Is it about building buildings that give culture as soon as they become available and getting Great Artists? I feel stupid when I say i've well over 1000 hours in Civ IV but i've never won a culture victory, I just never looked into how it is done.
Optimal for the Reli stuff yup, but in every culture game i played it became unrealistic anyways (having so many temples & Cath).I thought you needed 3 temples for each Cathedral, so 9 cities is the optimal.
14 culture per turn if you manage to get sistine chapel.Also build monasteries as soon as you can. They are relatively cheap for 2 culture per turn and are available early in the game. Those culture points add up over time and if you build them early, you also get the doubling bonus in their culture output eventually.