Culture of Europe

Europa and the Bull on a Greek vase, circa 480 BC

The culture of Europe is rooted in the art, architecture, music, literature, and philosophy that originated from the European cultural region.[1] European culture is largely rooted in what is often referred to as its "common cultural heritage".[2]


Because of 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.[3] Nonetheless, there are core elements which are generally agreed upon as forming the cultural foundation of modern Europe.[4] One list of these elements given by K. Bochmann includes:[5]

Berting says that these points fit with "Europe's most positive realisations".[7] 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.[8] 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.

The Nobel Prize laureate in Literature Thomas Stearns Eliot in his 1948 book Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, credited the prominent Christian influence upon the European culture:[9]

I am talking about the common tradition of Christianity which has made Europe what it is, and about the common cultural elements which this common Christianity has brought with it. If Asia were converted to Christianity tomorrow, it would not thereby become a part of Europe. It is in Christianity that our arts have developed; it is in Christianity that the laws of Europe have--until recently--been rooted. It is against a background of Christianity that all our thought has significance. An individual European may not believe that the Christian Faith is true, and yet what he says, and makes, and does, will all spring out of his heritage of Christian culture and depend upon that culture for its meaning. Only a Christian culture could have produced a Voltaire or a Nietzsche. I do not believe that the culture of Europe could survive the complete disappearance of the Christian Faith.[. . .] The Western World has its unity in this heritage, in Christianity and in the ancient civilisations of Greece, Rome, and Israel, from which, owing to two thousand years of Christianity, we trace our descent.


Main articles: European art and Western painting
Leonardo da Vinci. Among his works are the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, with their fame approached only by Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam.


The oldest known cave paintings are at the El Castillo cave (Spain), older than 40,800 years.[10] 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.

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.


Wolfgang A. Mozart is considered one the greatest music composers in History.
The Beatles are the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band in the history of music, with sales of over one billion.[11][12][13]


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 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, Stalinist architecture, Deconstructivism.


Europe has produced some of the most prominent or popular fiction and nonfiction writers of all time :


Main article: European cinema
Sir Alfred Hitchcock, often regarded the greatest British filmmaker of all time[15]

Antoine Lumière realized, on 28 December 1895, the first projection, with the Cinematograph, in Paris.[16] 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. Philippe Binant realized, on 2 February 2000, the first digital cinema projection in Europe, with the DLP CINEMA technology developed by Texas Instruments, in Paris.[17]


Europe has produced some of the greatest scientists and inventors in history.



Further information: History of Western philosophy

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.

The Greek schools of philosophy in antiquity provide the basis of philosophical discourse that extends to today. Christian thought had a huge influence on many fields of European philosophy (as European philosophy has been on Christian thought too), sometimes as a reaction.

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, Anarchism, Christian Democracy, Communism, Conservatism, Constructionism, Deconstructionism, Empiricism, Epicureanism, Existentialism, Fascism, Humanism, Idealism, Internationalism, Liberalism, Logical positivism, Marxism, Materialism, Monarchism, Nationalism, Perspectivism, Platonism, Positivism, Postmodernism, Protestantism, Rationalism, Relativism, Republicanism, Romanticism, Scepticism, Scholasticism, Social Democracy, Socialism, Stoicism, Structuralism, Thomism, Utilitarianism, Spenglerism.


Main article: Religion in Europe
Religions in Europe

Indo-European religions were: Celtic polytheism, Germanic paganism, Ancient Greek religion, Etruscan religion, and Slavic mythology.

The Eurobarometer Poll 2005[19] found that, on average, 52% of the citizens of EU member states state that they "believe in God", 27% believe there is some sort of spirit or life force while 18% do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force. 3% declined to answer. According to new polls about Religiosity in the European Union in 2012 by Eurobarometer, Christianity is the largest religion in the European Union accounting 72% of EU citizens. Non believer/Agnostic account 16%, Atheist account's 7%, and Muslim 2%.[20]

Christianity has been the dominant religion shaping European culture for at least the last 1700 years.[21][22][23][24][25] Modern philosophical thought has very much been influenced by Christian philosophers such as St Thomas Aquinas and Erasmus. And throughout most of its history, Europe has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture,[26] The Christian culture was the predominant force in western civilization, guiding the course of philosophy, art, and science.[27][28] The notion of "Europe" and the "Western World" has been intimately connected with the concept of "Christianity and Christendom" many even attribute Christianity for being the link that created a unified European identity.[29]

The most popular religions of Europe are the following (by dominant religion):

There are significant Catholic minorities in the Netherlands,[46] southern Germany,[47] Switzerland, the Czech Republic,[48] western and central Belarus, western Ukraine,[49] Hungarian-speaking Romania, Albania, parts of Russia, the Latgale region of Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, England (UK), Scotland (UK),[50] and Wales (UK),[51] and indeed small minorities in most of the other European countries.


Main article: European social model

Many political ideologies were theorised in Europe : capitalism, communism, fascism, socialism, anarchism.

Popular culture and folklores

Main article: European folklore


Main article: 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.

Austrian Wiener Schnitzel 
Italian pasta 
French bread 
Spanish paella 


The earliest definite examples of needles originate from the Solutrean culture, which existed in France and Spain 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.

Video games

Some of the most popular games of all time come from Europe: Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider, The Witcher, Cossacks: European Wars, Colin McRae: Dirt, Far Cry 3, Asphalt, The Settlers, The Patrician, Need For Speed, Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Brain Challenge, Rayman, Beyond Good & Evil, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, Watch Dogs, Batman: Arkham City, Banjo-Kazooie, LittleBigPlanet, Block Breaker Deluxe, Crysis, Tetris, Assassin's Creed, Europa Universalis, Kinect Sports, Hysteria Project and The Getaway (video game series).


Main article: Sport in Europe
Spectator sports are popular in much of the EU. (Camp Nou, Barcelona)

Europe's influence on sport is enormous. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a modern sport, apart from basketball and related sports, that does not have its origins in Europe. European sports include:

In addition, Europe has numerous national or regional sports which do not command a large international following outside of emigrant groups. These include:

Some sporting organisations hold European Championships.

Some sport competitions feature a European team gathering athletes from different European countries. These teams use the European flag as an emblem. The most famous of these competitions is the Ryder Cup in golf .

Capitals of Culture

Each year since 1985 one or more cities across Europe are chosen as European Capital of Culture. Here are the past and future capitals:


See also


  1. Mason, D. (2015). A Concise History of Modern Europe: Liberty, Equality, Solidarity. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 2.
  2. Cf. Berting (2006:51).
  3. Cederman (2001:2) remarks: "Given the absence of an explicit legal definition and the plethora of competing identities, it is indeed hard to avoid the conclusion that Europe is an essentially contested concept." Cf. also Davies (1996:15); Berting (2006:51).
  4. Cf. Jordan-Bychkov (2008:13), Davies (1996:15), Berting (2006:51-56).
  5. K. Bochmann (1990) L'idée d'Europe jusqu'au XXè siècle, quoted in Berting (2006:52). Cf. Davies (1996:15): "No two lists of the main constituents of European civilization would ever coincide. But many items have always featured prominently: from the roots of the Christian world in Greece, Rome and Judaism to modern phenomena such as the Enlightenment, modernization, romanticism, nationalism, liberalism, imperialism, totalitarianism."
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Berting 2006, p. 52
  7. Berting 2006, p. 51
  8. Duran (1995:81)
  9. Selected T.S. Eliot on Tradition, Poetry, Faith, and Culture
  10. "Red dot becomes 'oldest cave art'". BBC News. 15 June 2012.
  11. 1960–1969, EMI Group Ltd, archived from the original on 28 May 2008, retrieved 31 May 2008
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  13. 100 Greatest Artists Of All Time: The Beatles (No.1) Rolling Stone'.' Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  14. Rivadavia, Eduardo. "allmusic ((( New Wave of British Heavy Metal '79 Revisited - Overview )))".
  15. Avedon, Richard (14 April 2007). "The top 21 British directors of all time". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved 8 July 2009. Unquestionably the greatest filmmaker to emerge from these islands, Hitchcock did more than any director to shape modern cinema, which would be utterly different without him. His flair was for narrative, cruelly withholding crucial information (from his characters and from the audience) and engaging the emotions of the audience like no one else.
  16. December 28, 1895.
  17. Cahiers du cinéma, n°hors-série, Paris, April 2000, p. 32 (cf. also Histoire des communications, 2011, p. 10.).
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