Culture of Europe  

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Triumph of Christianity by Tommaso Laureti (1530-1602), ceiling painting in the Sala di Constantino, Vatican Palace. Images like this one celebrate the destruction of ancient pagan culture and the victory of Christianity.
Triumph of Christianity by Tommaso Laureti (1530-1602), ceiling painting in the Sala di Constantino, Vatican Palace. Images like this one celebrate the destruction of ancient pagan culture and the victory of Christianity.
 This page Culture of Europe is part of the world culture series.  Illustration: screen shot from L'arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat
This page Culture of Europe is part of the world culture series.
Illustration: screen shot from L'arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The culture of Europe might better be described as a series of multiple cultures, often competing; geographical regions opposing one another, Orthodoxy as opposed to Catholicism as opposed to Protestantism as opposed to Judaism as opposed to Secularism as opposed to Islam; many have claimed to identify cultural fault lines across the continent. There are many cultural innovations and movements, often at odds with each other, such as Christian proselytism or Humanism. Thus the question of "common culture" or "common values" is far more complex than it seems to be.

Upon the pagan cultures of aboriginal Europe, the foundations of modern European cultures were laid by the Greeks, strengthened by the Romans, stabilized by Christianity, added to by the rest of Europe, reformed and modernized by the fifteenth-century Renaissance and Reformation, and globalized by successive European empires between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. Thus the European Culture developed into a very complex phenomenon of wider range of philosophy, Judeo-Christian and secular humanism, rational ways of life and logical thinking developed through a long age of change and formation with the experiments of enlightenment, naturalism, romanticism, science, democracy, fascism, communism, and socialism. Because of its global connection, the European culture grew with an all-inclusive urge to adopt, adapt and ultimately influence other trends of culture. As a matter of fact, therefore, from the middle of the nineteenth century with the expansion of European education and the spread of Christianity, European culture and way of life, to a great extent, turned into "global culture," if anything has to be so named.


Common cultural heritage

Pan-European identity

European culture is largely rooted in what is often referred to as its "common cultural heritage". Due to the great number of perspectives which can be taken on the subject, it is impossible to form a single, all-embracing conception of European culture. Nonetheless, there are core elements which are generally agreed upon as forming the cultural foundation of modern Europe. One list of these elements given by K. Bochmann includes:

  • A plurality of states with different political orders, which are condemned to live together in one way or another;
  • Respect for peoples, states and nations outside Europe.

Berting says that these points fit with "Europe's most positive realisations".

The concept of European culture is generally linked to the classical definition of the Western world. In this definition, Western culture is the set of literary, scientific, political, artistic and philosophical principles which set it apart from other civilizations. Much of this set of traditions and knowledge is collected in the Western canon. The term has come to apply to countries whose history has been strongly marked by European immigration or settlement during the 18th and 19th centuries, such as the Americas, and Australasia, and is not restricted to Europe.


European art

The oldest known paintings are at the Grotte Chauvet in France, claimed by some historians to be about 32,000 years old. The history of Western painting represents a continuous, though disrupted, tradition from antiquity. Until the mid 19th century it was primarily concerned with representational and Classical modes of production, after which time more modern, abstract and conceptual forms gained favor. Developments in Western painting historically parallel those in Eastern painting, in general a few centuries later. African art, Islamic art, Indian art, Chinese art, and Japanese art each had significant influence on Western art, and, eventually, vice-versa.

The earliest European sculpture to date portrays a female form, and has been estimated at dating from 35,000 years ago. See Classical sculpture, Ancient Greek sculpture, Gothic art, Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque, Neoclassicism, Modernism, Postminimalism, found art, Postmodern art, Conceptual art.

European music

Europe was the birthplace of classical music- notably, Germany, France, Italy, and Russia. Important classical composers from Europe include Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Haydn, and Vivaldi.

Europe has also imported many different genres of music, mainly from America, ranging from pop, rap, hip'hop, r'n'b, dance, jazz, soul etc. Britain has been most successful in re-exporting this type of music from the Beatles to Oasis; however, countries like Spain and Germany have not been far behind with artists such as Julio Iglesias and Kraftwerk.

The Eurovision Song Contest brings European states together every May, in which each country submits a song and an eventual winner is chosen at the end, through voting.

EMI is the largest European music company.

Neolithic architecture : Born in the Levant, Neolithic architecture spread to Europe. The Mediterranean neolithic cultures of Malta worshiped in megalithic temples. In Europe, long houses built from wattle and daub were constructed. Elaborate tombs for the dead were also built. These tombs are particularly numerous in Ireland, where there are many thousand still in existence. Neolithic people in the British Isles built long barrows and chamber tombs for their dead and causewayed camps, henges flint mines and cursus monuments., Architecture of ancient Greece, Roman architecture, Medieval architecture, Renaissance architecture, Baroque architecture, Beaux-Arts architecture, Expressionist architecture, Deconstructivism.

Europe is the birthplace of some of the most prominent or popular fiction writers of all time : Homer, Dante Alighieri, François Rabelais, Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer, Voltaire, Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, H. G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, C. S. Lewis, Franz Kafka, Agatha Christie, Henrik Ibsen, J. R. R. Tolkien, Rudyard Kipling, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Alexander Pushkin, Knut Hamsun, George Orwell, Jules Verne, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Mary Shelley, Albert Camus, Oscar Wilde, Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, Virginia Woolf, Daniel Defoe, Anne Frank, John Milton, Umberto Eco, Walter Scott, Beatrix Potter, D. H. Lawrence, Hans Christian Andersen, Brothers Grimm, Joseph Conrad, Terry Pratchett, Jonathan Swift, J. M. Barrie, Alan Moore, Anton Chekhov, Patrick Süskind, J. K. Rowling, Sigrid Undset...

See Western art history, dance, drama, and circus arts.

In 1897, Georges Méliès established the first cinema studio on a rooftop property in Montreuil, near Paris. Some notable European film movements include German Expressionism, Italian neorealism, French New Wave, Polish Film School, New German Cinema, Portuguese Cinema Novo, Czechoslovak New Wave, Dogme 95, New French Extremity, and Romanian New Wave. The cinema of Europe has its own awards, the European Film Awards. Main festivals : Cannes Film Festival (France), Berlin International Film Festival (Germany). The Venice Film Festival (Italy) or Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia, is the oldest film festival in the world.

Some of the most popular games of all time come from Europe : the Grand Theft Auto (series), Tomb Raider, Cossacks: European Wars, Brain Challenge, Block Breaker Deluxe...


Europe has produced some of the greatest scientists, inventors and intellectuals in history. Germany; Albert Einstein, Johannes Kepler, Johannes Gutenberg, Gottfried Leibniz, Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, Max Planck, Karl Benz. England; Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, James Joule, Edward Jenner, John Dalton, George Stephenson, Florence Nightingale, George Cayley, Frank Whittle, Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking, Tim Berners Lee. Scotland; James Watt, Alexander Fleming, Alexander Graham Bell, John Logie Baird, James Clerk Maxwell, Adam Smith. Italy; Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Niccolò Machiavelli, Alessandro Volta, Guglielmo Marconi, Enrico Fermi. France; Louis Pasteur, Antoine Lavoisier, Henri Becquerel, René Descartes. Poland; Nicolaus Copernicus, Marie Curie. Ireland; Lord Kelvin. Sweden; Alfred Nobel, Anders Celsius. Denmark; Niels Bohr. Serbia; Nikola Tesla. Switzerland; Carl Jung. Hungary; Leo Szilard. Russia; Dmitri Mendeleev. Austria: Sigmund Frued.


European philosophy is a predominant strand of philosophy globally, and is central to philosophical enquiry in America and most other parts of the world which have fallen under its influence. Christian thought is a huge influence on many fields of European philosophy (as European philosophy has been on Christian thought too), sometimes as a reaction; the Greek schools of philosophy in antiquity provide the basis of philosophical discourse that extends to today.

Perhaps one of the most important single philosophical periods since the classical era were the Renaissance, the Age of Reason and the Age of Enlightenment. There are many disputes as to its value and even its timescale. What is indisputable is that the tenets of reason and rational discourse owe much to René Descartes, John Locke and others working at the time.

Other important European philosophical strands include: Analytic philosophy, Calvinism, Christian Democracy, Communism, Conservatism, Constructionism, Deconstructionism, Empiricism, Epicureanism, Existentialism, Fascism, Humanism, Idealism, Liberalism, Logical positivism, Marxism, Materialism, Monarchism, Nationalism, Perspectivism, Platonism, Positivism, Postmodernism, Rationalism, Romanticism, Scepticism, Scholasticism, Social Democracy, Socialism, Stoicism, Structuralism, Thomism, Utilitarianism, Spenglerism


Religion in Europe

Christianity has been the dominant feature in shaping up European culture for at least the last 1700 years. Modern philosophical thought has very much been influenced by Christian philosophers such as St Thomas Aquinas and Erasmus.


European cuisine

The cuisines of Western countries are diverse by themselves, although there are common characteristics that distinguishes Western cooking from cuisines of Asian countries and others. Compared with traditional cooking of Asian countries, for example, meat is more prominent and substantial in serving-size. Steak in particular is a common dish across the West. Similarly to some Asian cuisines, Western cuisines also put substantial emphasis on sauces as condiments, seasonings, or accompaniments (in part due to the difficulty of seasonings penetrating the often larger pieces of meat used in Western cooking). Many dairy products are utilized in the cooking process, except in nouvelle cuisine. Wheat-flour bread has long been the most common sources of starch in this cuisine, along with pasta, dumplings and pastries, although the potato has become a major starch plant in the diet of Europeans and their diaspora since the European colonization of the Americas.


History of Western fashion

The earliest definite examples of needles originate from the Solutrean culture, which existed in France from 19,000 BC to 15,000 BC. The earliest dyed flax fibers have been found in a cave the Republic of Georgia and date back to 36,000 BP. see Clothing in ancient Rome, 1100-1200 in fashion, 1200-1300 in fashion, 1300-1400 in fashion, 1400-1500 in fashion, 1500-1550 in fashion, 1550-1600 in fashion, 1600-1650 in fashion, 1650-1700 in fashion, Textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution.


Sport in Europe

See Olympic games

European Capital of Culture

Each year since 1985 one or more cities across Europe are chosen as European Capital of Culture.


See also

Europe, culture, Western culture, European tourism

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Culture of Europe" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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