You are here
Romania’s cultural heritage is rich and diverse although much has been destroyed by wars, earthquakes, wrong political decisions and neglect. Romania currently has a total of approx. 30,000 listed historical monuments (see the official Romanian Historical Monuments List here: http://www.cultura.ro/lista-monumentelor-istorice or browse/ search an older version database with English interface here: 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) while the others are of regional or local importance (B grade). Their ownership status is public, private or mixed. Regarding conservation, it differs from one area to another and from monument to monument. Maybe 60% of them are in poor conservation condition.
On the UNESCO World Heritage List there are currently inscribed (2018) 6 cultural and 2 natural serial assets, with a total of 51 properties (41 Romanian historical monuments and 10 natural sites). They were included between 1993 and 2017. Among them: 8 medieval painted churches in Moldavia, 7 Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, 6 Dacian fortresses in the Orăștie Mountains, 8 wooden churches in Maramureș, Sighișoara Old Town, Hurezi Monastery, the natural reserve of the Danube Delta and 9 forests belonging to Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other Regions of Europe (see http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/ro). There are also 15 Romanian proposals on the for the UNESCO World Heritage List (http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/state=ro) and one nomination in evaluation process: the Monumental Ensemble of modern sculptor Constantin Brancusi in Târgu-Jiu (see http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/548/).
For the protection of cultural heritage, Romania currently has a law on historical monuments (in 2001, with later revisions and additions), a law on archaeological heritage (Ordinance No. 43/2000), a law on protection of movable heritage (in 2000), a law on museums and collections (in 2003), a law on intangible cultural heritage (in 2008), o law on industrial heritage (in 2008). Legislation in the field of urban planning referring to protected areas is based on a government decision of 1996, which adopted the General Town Planning Act, a 2000 National Settlement Law, which has a section dedicated to protected areas and the specific Urban Planning Law of 2001. As well as the Building Authorization Act, which was adopted in 1991, urbanism law has been amended many times.
Romania ratified three European heritage conventions (not yet the Faro Convention) and implemented them in the national legislation.
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, proposed since 2008 – 2009, has not been yet fulfilled. A step ahead was the elaboration of the Preliminary Theses of the Cultural Heritage Code project, approved by Government Decision No. 905/2016.
During 2015, the National Defense Strategy of the country was revised, bringing for the first time the cultural heritage between the values, interests and symbols that define a strong Romania. From this point of view, cultural patrimony is today one of the national security objectives and a strategic development resource.
After 2008, the financial crisis, austerity policy and not less government instability (ministers of culture has changed once or twice a year!) 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, often 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.
There are 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. 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.
The Romanian Ministry of Culture and National Identity (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 Institute (INP), created in 2011 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).
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.