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Romania’s cultural heritage is rich and diverse although much was destroyed by wars, earthquakes, political decisions and neglect. Romania currently has a total of approx. 29,500 listed historical monuments (http://patrimoniu.gov.ro/ro/monumente-istorice/lista-monumentelor-istorice ; http://www.monumenteromania.ro). Of these, a total of approx. 6,800 buildings, archaeological and historical sites are of national and universal value (A grade). Their ownership condition differs being either public property, private or mixed. Regarding conservation status, it differs from one county to another and from one monument to another but maybe 60% are in bad condition. There are currently a total of 31 Romanian historical monuments belonging to the UNESCO World Heritage List, recorded between 1993 and 2010: the eight medieval painted churches in Moldavia, 7 Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, 6 Dacian fortresses in the Orăștie Mountains, 8 wooden churches of Maramureș, Sighișoara Old Town, Hurezi Monastery, and the natural reserve of the Danube Delta (http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/ro ; http://www.cimec.ro/Monumente/unesco/UNESCOen/fastvers.htm). There are also 14 objectives proposed on the to be registered in UNESCO World Heritage List (http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/state=ro ).
After 2008, the economic crisis, severe austerity policy and government instability (9 ministers of culture in the past three years!) had a bad impact on cultural heritage protection: we had several years of budget austerity, personnel cuts, frozen job schemes, frequent reorganisation of heritage institutions, changes of the members of heritage commissions and of the chiefs of county directorates, less money for restoration of historical monuments and other measures that affected the already fragile human and material heritage protection infrastructure. Existing heritage legislation is not entirely applied in real life in the absence of proper financial support and human resources. The purpose of updating of heritage legislation in a unitary Cultural Heritage Code was not yet fulfilled. There are huge delays in heritage inventory, monitoring, restoration and preventive conservation. The number and quality of personnel working in heritage field decreased significantly in recent years (by one third to half in some organizations), after a whole generation of experienced specialists either retired or left the country not to be replaced. Young graduates cannot find jobs in cultural heritage field since 6 years and training opportunities are poor. There is stagnation if not regress in digitization, computerization, heritage websites administration and public communication. Heritage policy remains centralized and slow to react. Poor administrative capacity at both central and local level, corruption and improper economic conditions to follow heritage policies on medium and long terms put our cultural heritage in danger. Many heritage buildings in public property were returned to their former private owners or buyers of owner rights, sometimes on disputable documents, to be left to ruin for real estate interests. The state support for heritage owners to maintain their heritage property is poor.
On the other side, we saw an increase in civic action for heritage protection, a growing number of non-governmental organizations and joint platforms from heritage causes, successful public campaigns against economic projects that destroy landscape and heritage (Roșia Montana gold mining area, for example), more community interest for local heritage, amplified private initiatives to save monuments and open local museums, and more international cooperation. These trends are encouraging. The capacity of our judiciary system to fight illicit traffic of cultural goods and recover stolen items from Romania improved: gangs of traffickers were dismantled and brought to justice and thousands of coins and precious hoards were brought back to our collections (unique Dacian gold bracelets, for example). European Structural Funding, Cross Border Cooperation Programmes and Regional Development Fund provided money for projects of restoration and conservation of some churches, theatres, museums and for development of tourism infrastructure. There should be much more to be done to increase the absorption rate of European funding which is very low in Romania (under 57%, the lowest in the European Union).
The Romanian Ministry of Culture (www.cultura.ro) is the main government body responsible for cultural heritage. It has a network of 41 county culture directorates and that of Bucharest, the Capital City. It is assisted by three advisory bodies: The National Commission for Historical Monuments, the National Archaeological Commission and the National Commission for Museums and Collections. The National Commission for Historical Monuments is the only one to have a network of 12 regional commissions. The National Heritage Institutes, created in 2011, under the Ministry of Culture, by merging together the former National Institute for Historical Monuments, National Office for Historical Monuments and The Institute for Cultural Memory (CIMEC) is the main central organization responsible with the maintenance and updating of the Historical Monuments List, the UNESCO World Heritage List, the National Archaeological Record of Romania, The Inventory of the Movable National Cultural Heritage, and the administration of the National Restoration Plan, financed by the Ministry of Culture for monuments of A grade (national value). National, regional and county museums play an important role in research, protection and valorisation of cultural heritage in their areas.
The three main heritage laws in action are Ordinance 43/2000 regarding archaeology (http://www.cimec.ro/Legislatie/Og43-2000-Republicare-2007-04-25.pdf), Law 182/2000 regarding movable heritage (http://www.cimec.ro/Legislatie/L-182-2000-PatrimoniuMobil-2010.pdf) and Law 422/2001 regarding historical monuments (http://www.cimec.ro/Resurse/Legislatie/Legea-422-2001-republicata-2006.pdf).
Romania ratified the three European Heritage Conventions (not yet the Faro Convention) and implemented them in the heritage legislation in 2000 - 2001.