No matter where you go - Bucharest, Transylvania, Moldova, Bukovina, Banat, Dobrogea - you'll notice the influences of the many minorities
living in Romania for centuries. These influences manifest at all levels of society: in architecture, in music, in dance, in traditions, in
dress, in language, even in cooking and definitely in people's behavior.
What would be Transylvania without the majestic Saxon fortresses, our traditional cuisine without the Hungarian goulash,
our traditional dances without Sarba, our language without the soft Slavic sounds, our religion
without the Byzantine rites ?
Traveling through Romania, you'll encounter villages where three or four nationalities live and share their cultural heritages. In many
Transylvanian villages, Romanian, Hungarians and Gypsies have music brass bands playing together or having an intermingled repertoire. In Banat,
Romanians, Serbs, Croats share their skills in traditional dances, while in Bukovina, Poles cook their delicious bigos and cookies.
In Dobrogea, Turks and Tatars still pray in their old mosques, while Italians enjoy la dolce vita in the village strangely called
Greci (Greeks). In the heart of Transylvania, Saxons (of German origin) and Landlers (of Austrian origin) go together to the Sunday mass,
but scrupulously take their respective places in the old Gothic churches as determined by ancient unwritten rules. The Armenians are proud of
the Rubens painting in their church at Gherla - a gift from an Austrian emperor, while the Greeks meet in Constanta to eat souflaki,
dance Zorba the Greek and talk about the motherland.
Some of these people's origin is lost in the past. For examples, the Csangos' (a group related to Hungarians and living in Moldova) origin remains a scientific dispute.
In order to better understand the Romanian soul, admire the fortified
citadels built by the Saxon peasant-architects, enjoy a Hungarian goulash,
listen to authentic Gipsy violin players, dance together with the Serbs on the
Danube shores, join the Turks when they pray in their mosques and bewilder the
magnificent cultural heritage that these people have left to us.
Sorin Cristescu, May 2005