Be Inspired

Europe is a diverse and inspiring continent, full of fascinating details, places, people and events. Our religious heritage is not only a window into this past, but also provides enjoyment and inspiration for its architecture, its beauty and its splendour. These lists show some of the ways that Europe's religious heritage can be enjoyed today.

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Center for Jewish Art

Romania's Jewish Heritage

Romania has a very rich Jewish heritage. While the first Jewish people arrived in the territory of modern Romania during Roman times, it wasn't until large immigration waves in the 15th and 16th centuries that a sizeable community was established. Over time, several Jewish families became quite prosperous and the community was able to fund the creation of some magnificent religious heritage sites. Our Religiana list will take a look at some of these outstanding sites and examine the rich Jewish heritage of Romania.

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Painted Monasteries of Bucovina

The pained monasteries of Bucovina are some of the most unique religious heritage sites, not only in Romania but of the whole world. These monasteries can be found in the Bucovina region of northeastern Romania near the Carpathian Mountains. Built in the 15th and 16th centuries, these monasteries feature brilliantly coloured frescoes on the exterior of the monastery churches in addition to the interior. The reason for this was to convey biblical stories and teachings to a mostly illiterate population. Today, seven of these monasteries are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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Otto Schemmel/Wikimedia Commons

Fortified Churches of Transylvania

Romania's region of Transylvania has always been a very diverse place, consisting of Romanians, Hungarians, Germanic "Saxons", and others. One of the more notable features of Transylvania's landscape is that of the fortified churches. These unique churches were built during the late middle ages by the German minority group who were under constant threat from invaders. Since it was difficult for the armies of the Holy Roman Empire to ensure the protection of these villages, they were forced to build their own fortifications around the village's largest building, its church. There were once around 300 of these fortified churches, but today only around 7 of them are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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Wikimedia Commons

The Religious Heritage of Malta

The small island nation of Malta has changed hands several times over the centuries due to its militarily strategic importance, with several kingdoms and empires leaving their mark. Much of the island's most notable architecture was built during the 16th-18th centuries under the rule of the Knights of St. John, a Catholic military order who left their mark on the Island's religious heritage. Today, Malta hosts several magnificent and well preserved religious heritage sites that make any visit well worth the trip.

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Wikimedia Commons

The Religious Heritage of Zagreb

Religious heritage in Croatia's capital city dates back to its founding when the town of Gradec merged with the neighbouring canonical settlement of Kaptol which was the seat of the regional diocese. Since then, the city remained an important place for philosophy and theology. Furthermore, its location as an important city under the multicultural Austro-Hungarian empire and the multi-religious Yugoslavia gave it quite a variety of religious heritage sites that can be enjoyed today.

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UNESCO Religious Heritage of Croatia

Despite going through a war which caused much devastation to both the lad and its cultural heritage, Croatia has been able to preserve its jewels of sacred architecture, mainly those located on its coast, many of which are recognised by UNESCO.

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Ukrainian Baroque Churches

The Ukrainian Baroque style, one of the most recognisable architectural styles in Ukraine, is a mixture of Baroque and traditional Russian architecture that was very popular in 17th and 18th century Ukraine. Although originating in Kyiv, we have also selected some lesser-known examples located outside the capital.

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Religious Heritage of Kyiv

The cradle of Slavic culture, Kyivis also a crossroads for the populations of Eastern Europe. Here, monasteries with golden onion domes stand alongside Ashkenazi synagogues and even a Tatar mosque.

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Jewish Heritage of Ukraine

Ukraine has one of the largest numbers of Jewish heritage sites of any European country with around 1,500 listed sites. Its Jewish community has contributed much to Jewish cultural heritage: the first shtetls were located in Ukraine, and Hasidism was born here.

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Wooden churches of the Ukrainian Carpathians

The Ukrainian Carpathians, like many mountainous regions throughout Europe, are home to many minorities. Gorals, Boykos, Lemkos, Rusyns and Hutsuls all share a great deal of expertise in building with wood, the material with which they erect their churches.