Sometimes the best times waiting to happen are where you least expect them. The Balkans makes it all possible and that is why our special Balkan tours – actually Multi-destination Balkan regional tours focus on unique culture and traditions, taking you to discover the first-hand original Balkan life, enhancing inspirational, experiential and fun aspects of travel and rise question to learn more about generally accepted interpretations of the secret Balkan connections and surprises. You may think you know much about the Balkans, but until you have been to any of the Balkans alluring places, you really do not understand the organization of its intriguing cultures and the long-lasting mystique of the region. Our Balkan tours and information posted on this site make a firm belief in the role Balkans and its environs played during prehistory in the birth and evolution of civilizations in Europe and around the Mediterranean, due to its unique geographical position at the gates of Europe, its unique geographical diversity and richness. And even if you have visited the Balkans, it is still a bit hard to describe….

The Balkans as a region is characterized by specific geo-history and socio-cultural dynamics. The Balkans is extraordinarily fluid region marked by historical events, in which allegiances were bound to be transient, and in which local power relationships were based on the recognition that any alliance was likely to be temporary, and that yesterday’s enemy could be tomorrow’s best friend. The natural, historical, cultural, ethnic, religious, linguistic, social and political diversity of the Balkans makes authentic and significant tourist resource for transforming the region into competitive transnational tourist destination.

The Balkans features paramount importance of the common historical heritage as the Old Europe firmly rooted in the Old European ancient civilizations that contributed to the essential part of the cultural development of the whole European continent. As per the archaeological finds, the indigenous peoples of the present Balkans did not wage wars between themselves for 10000 years and were ahead of their time in art, technology and long-distance trade – the Aegean and central Balkans, the Adriatic, the middle Danube, the eastern Balkans, and the Moldavian and west-Ukrainian. The centuries-old cultural-political conflict between the Germanic peoples and the Serbs is never interrupted. The Sorbs of Germany are considered as cultural and linguistic isolates and are thought to have settled in their present location in eastern Germany after a westward migration from a largely Slavic-speaking territory during the Middle Ages. “One study of Sorbian populations describes their presence in present-day Germany as the result of an initial spread of numerous Slavic groups (collectively termed Polabians) westward from at least the 1st Century C.E. The geographical origins of these Polabians are essentially unknown, but various authors have placed it in present-day Ukraine, southern Belarus, parts of Russia, southern Poland and the Czech Republic. From the 9th century forward, eastward expansions of Germanic populations resulted in the displacement or absorption of virtually all Polabians, with the exception of the ancestors of modern Sorbs. Sorbs remain culturally distinct from their Germanic speaking neighbors, preserving much of their Slavic language and traditional customs.”Genetic variation in the Sorbs of eastern Germany in the context of broader European genetic diversity” – KR Veeramah et al

The multiplicity of the Balkans is given by the peculiarities of each area’s tourist offer, by the uniqueness of the natural landscapes, by the variety of the local traditions and beliefs, by the richness of the cuisines and local food products. The Balkan Peninsula is often considered notorious for being one of the greatest battlegrounds of the History. For centuries the Balkans has been highly influenced by external factors and subjects which did not contribute to the realization of the interests of its peoples but on the contrary, has made inter – Balkan relations further more complex. Balkans is the region where the victories won in the wars have turned into defeats when it came to diplomacy. Serious people should also respect scholarly integrity in the Balkan lands as it confronts the myths and falsehoods relating to the remote past which are deployed in modern political contests. It remains to be seen how great-power influence in the region has been catastrophic for the people of the Balkans, and how so-called “ancient hatreds” and “tribal rivalries” have often been intensified by ignorant diplomats in far-away capitals, creating states, allocating populations and redrawing borders – with deadly results. Westerners, generally not well informed about Balkan issues are fascinated and sometimes horrified by the Balkans. Please see The Burden of the Balkans – Edith Durham.

Yet, Balkans, that specific mixture of races and beliefs with its great cultural, ethnic, religious, social, economic, and geographic diversity possesses another unseen and alluring, unforgettable side unknown to many, of its breathtaking ancient sites and greatest achievements of the Medieval and the Ottoman architectures, as well as brilliant examples of the Hapsburg era or the unique Balkans gastronomy preserving a seemingly unchanged past. Please see – Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Rebecca West. Thus traveling the Balkans is considered as “the journey in time”, as the heart of Old Europe was in the lower Danube valley in contemporary Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. With such deep History, variety of smells, tastes and flavors, rich Inheritance and impressive Culture of its cheerful people, Balkans inspires many to travel, as it has to offer something peculiarly distinctive and not replicated elsewhere in Europe…. Those resources on the Balkans would make the “Balkans journey in time” far easier and would help travelers find unique ways to experience various tempting flavors of the Balkans.


The countries that make up the Balkans today include Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Peoples of those Balkan countries share common roots and thousands of years of history. Geographically, “European Turkey,” a small region around Istanbul, is located in the Balkans. Some scholars also consider Croatia to be part of the Balkan region. The Balkan Peninsula in the south-east of the continental Europe, between the Alps and mainland Europe and the Near East, with its abundant forests, waters and mountains, and, accordingly, with remote and hard-to-reach places, for a long time was believed to be a barely accessible and dangerous region that separated the civilized South from the cold and barbarian North. The range of Dinaric Mountains is naturally best connected by the mountain chain through the present Albania with the south of the Balkan peninsula, Macedonia and Greece, and in the north, along Kopaonik Mountain, including the Morava River, it is connected with the mountain area of the present western Bulgaria. There are the Sar Mountains, the Pindus Mountains, the Dinaric Alps, which run from north to south, the Balkan Mountains, Olymp Mountain and Rhodope Mountains which run east to west and harbor gigantic pristine wilderness up to 3000 meters altitude, that provides exceptional conditions for the unique Via Dinarica routes.

The vast majority of the Balkan region is heavily forested, but there are also plains regions which are suitable to agriculture and here ever since a great deal of mouth-watering food is produced. The Balkan region is intersected with river valleys, such as those of the Danube, Morava, Vardar, Nišava, Timok, Ibar, Toplica and Drim Rivers, opening up obvious directions of north- and southward communication. Of all the Balkan rivers, the Danube River is far the most outstanding, both in length and in historical significance. The Balkan rivers cut narrow gorges in the rocks, connecting spacious and fertile basins, where from fresh and simple ingredients delicious food is prepared ever since. On the rims of the basins, Balkan mountain ranges often rich in ores offer a good raw material base for the development of metallurgy as well as impetus for trade. Hospitable fertile zones and plentiful natural resources of the Balkans have attracted human communities from the earliest times.

The distinct identity and fragmentation of the Balkans owes much to its common and often violent and turbulent history and to the very mountainous geography of the Balkans. The people who reside as the nations that make up the Balkan region were created from a large number of different ethnic roots that originated from a huge indigenous race – civilization that had populated this region down through millennia. There is a number of artifacts, traces, testimonies and finds testifying that the Serbs were the predominant indigenous population of the Balkans in the pre-Roman time, recorded in the ancient historical records and annals as Serbs, Sorbs, Serboi, Vendi – Wends, Dacians, Thracians...., but also people who inhabited the whole territory of the present Europeand, as known astonished all contemporary Byzantine and Latin writers by its vast numbers and by the manifested robust vitality as Slavs – Sclavenes breached the defenses of the Roman Empire in southeastern Europe with Roman troops increasingly present in the Balkans from the 70s BCE onward.

Farming societies have been settling in the region west of the Black Sea and the East Carpathian basin since the Early Neolithic from around 6000 BC. Since the time of Great Tartaria and the Great Mogul, peoples of the north Euroasia developed not from plundering and looting during the Crusades, and colonisation of America, Africa, India and drug addict in China, but thanks to their diligent work and peacefulness. Until the beginning of the Christian era the Medieval monuments and written chronicles claim the Slavs originated from the Serbs where the name of Belosrbija, i.e. Sarmatia was changed with the name of Scythia that previously designated the eastern part of Europe. This term was derived from the name of Sarmatian people who settled the territories of the Scythians north of the Black Sea. Sarmatians – Sauromati, Saurobati, Sarbati – designate the numerous Serb tribes that were first mentioned as Sauromati by Herodotus in the 5th century BC, as the Slavs-Serbs are genetically mainly descendants of Sarmatians in the North and East and indigenous tribes of lower Danube in the South. Herodotus claims that Sarmatians are of Scythian stock, a mixture of Scythian warriors and Amazonian women, to be more precise. Herodotus actually dedicates a lot of pages of his “History” to Scythians and Sarmatians. The Scythian nomads controlled a vast area stretching from the edge of northern China to the northern Black Sea region. Originating in southern Siberia they dominated the Eurasian steppe for centuries until they were displaced by other Eurasian nomad tribes at the beginning of the 2nd century BC. The term Serb was later mentioned by Pliny in the 1st century, and Ptolemy in the 3rd century, as well as by a number of the Roman historians and authors of the Imperium Romanorum – Vasileia Romaion /Pseudo Scylax/. Maria Gimbutas claims that “Old Europe was invaded and destroyed by horse-riding pastoral nomads from the Pontic-Caspian steppe /the “Kurgan culture”/ who brought with them violence, patriarchy, and Indo-European languages.” The Serbs belonged to the population of the Scynths, Medians, Partians and their original language was similar to avesta. Not any of Serboa written texts is preserved, except few personal names, usually of rulers. But, language of today Serbs from Serbia or Ossetians from the Middle Caucus, that derived from the Sarmato-Alan dialects /of whom Serbs are direct descendants/, can be considered as the modern Sarmatian language.

However, this part of Europe – the Balkans is among the most mixed of any geographic area in terms of ethnicity, religion and cultural influences. We do hope that we ALL can learn something from the past to make for a better present and future, seeking ways of revitalizing local and regional life.

The Old Balkan tribal communities of Illyrians, Thracians, Dacians, Dardans and other ethnic group of peoples have experienced nearly complete Romanization in the course of several centuries of the reign of the Roman Empire. In the historical context of the Roman conquest and expansion the Praefectura Illyricum was subdivided into the following provinces: Dacia Ripensis, Dacia Mediterranea, Moesia Superior Margensis, Dardania, Praevalis, Macedonia Prima, Macedonia Secunda, Epirus Nova, Epirus Vetus, Thessalia, Achaia and Creta. The most outstanding Illyrian tribes were: Iapudes, Dalmatae, Autariatae, Docletae and Taulantii. The Dardani, a pre-Roman tribe, had occupied the central areas of the Balkans, actually the space between the Morava and Vardar river basins from the prehistoric times. All the peoples /nations/ who live today in the Western and Central Balkans feature Illyrian elements, identified as different groups of populations from the north-eastern and north-western Balkans and the Carpathian Basin, named in this way by various ancient authors while writing about the respective regions. Illyrians refer to the common Latin-Romea geographic-historical term for the number of indigenous tribes of the ancient Heamus, while the Triballi designates the ethnicum i.e. the tribe of the Serb origin of the ancient Illyria. However the new Slavic element predominates in the other regions of the Western and the Central Balkans.

Due to their turbulent history abundant with appropriation, looting, forgery and disappearance of many of their primary historical sources and artifacts, ancient Serbs-Slavic people have considerably lost the knowledge of their joint historical heritage originating and lasting from ancient times, although keeping in collective memory mostly an intuitive awareness of it on the grounds of similar languages, letters, religion, historical experience and remaining historical evidence of it. /dr Sanja Šuljagić, sen.res. assoc. Institute for Political Studies, Belgrade, Serbia/.

Numerous historical sources, toponyms, oronyms, patronyms and folk memories and legends witness and prove the appearance and existence of Serbs, Vlachs, Vlaštak people, Morlak people and Morovlah people on the eastern side of the Adriatic, in the region of Dalmatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. Essentially a pastoral and usually a nomad people, the Vlachs /Wallachians/ of the Balkans have been throughout their history regularly at least nominally subject to some other national group, largely spread in the Epirus and Thessaly regions, although the Wallachians and Russians and Serbs feature the same ethic origins.

The name of Vlachs – Wallachians is closely related to the ancient Slavic god or Veles /or Volos/god of earth, waters, and the underworld. “Veles is the Wallachian deity of cattle breeders and also described as the demon or God of the Underworld, but also as the constant opponent of the God Perun. On this testifies the old myth of the eternal fight between Perun and Veles where the God Veles as a dragon climbs the World Tree in order to take over the sky, while the God Perun throws thunderbols on him, that is how allegedly the thunders appear. When God Perun wins, he starts a rain as his triumph over the demon. The Old Slavs see the world as a huge tree which they call the World Tree. The God Perun lives as an eagle in the top of the tree together with the majority of deities, while in the tree bottom lives the God Veles as the dragon and the ruler of the Underworld, and the master of dead…. After the Christianity was adopted, the horned God of Veles being the snake-face had the bad fate to be determined as the Satan. His positive aspects have been conveyed to Saint Basil. In the town of Jaroslaw the first church that has been erected on the spot of the shrine of God Veles was dedicated to this saint, probably because of similarity in names, but also for the fact that somewhere the Saint Basil is regarded the protector of shepherds. The Croats consider Saint Basil as Sveti Vlaho”. Adam Volynets

“In the Middle ages, some Vlachs were partially Romanized, but most of them refused that process. Serbs from the middle-aged Raska and Bosnia named their compatriots from Dubrovnik Vlachs, and later people from Dubrovnik also referred to Serbs from the interior of Hum peninsula as Vlachs. These Vlachs who lived in the hinterland of Dubrovnik, or in Raska, Bosnia and Zeta have been engaged in live-stock breeding and caravan trading. Before arrival of Hungarians there was an area called the Vlach’s land in the Middle Danube region. It is unknown when this name for the mentioned social category of the Serbian population in the triangle of today’s Czech Republic, Greece and Dalmatia, appeared for the first time, but it is certainly related to Slavic god Veles /or Volos/. Wallachia’s land or the Vlaska Land was in the area of today’s Romania, and later /1241 c/ it was also known as Voivodeship of Wallachia or Voivodeship of Vlaska, with all typical characteristics of a Slavic state”. Petar B. Bogunovic  

Speaking a Latin dialect closely allied to modern Rumanian /the language of the Vlachs north of the Danube/, the Vlachs disappear from our sources during the Middle Ages for as much as several hundred years at a time. But the probability is high that they were always residing the Balkans, watching their flocks, and practicing stock breeding and brigandage. Balkans is the place where Latin and Greek roots of the Roman Empire have met and intermixed in antiquity and it is difficult to sort out all of the various influences which have combined here to create such the unique blend of heritages. Find more on the cultural heritage of the Balkans.

The Balkans is the historical name of a geographic region of southeastern Europe and the East of the Mediterranean. The Balkan region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains which run through the center of Bulgaria and stretch into eastern Serbia. The Balkan region has a combined area of 550,000 km2 and a population of about 55 million people. The ancient Greek name for the Balkan Peninsula was “the Peninsula of Haemus”. Hem or Helm is the Classical name for the Balkan Peninsula  /lat. Hæmonia classica or Pæninsula Hæmonia/, which designates the form of the Slavic world ‘hum’ – hill or mountain, which the Greeks distorted. »Haemus, Hum, Hem, Holm = hill, mountain, pile. The Balkans countries are adjoined by water on three sides: the Black Sea to the east and branches of the Mediterranean Sea to the south and west /including the Adriatic, Ionian, Aegean and Marmara seas/. The identity of the Balkans is dominated by its geographical position. Historically the Balkan area was known as a crossroads of various cultures. The important Roman road started in the area of Naissus /modern Niš/, a city at the crossroads of other trans-Balkan land routes leading in four directions: northward to Viminacium and Singidunum /modern Belgrade/; westward to Lissus and the Adriatic coast; southward to Thessaloniki and the Aegean; and eastward to Serdica – today Sofia– and Constantinople – today Istanbul.

In the 1st millennium AD, the Balkans was a part of the Roumeli Empire Byzantine Empire – the continuation of the Roman Empire in the Greek-speaking – eastern part of the Mediterranean. Essentially the Byzantine Empire was a combination of three major cultural components : Roman in political concepts, administration, law and military organization;  Greek in language and culture and Christian in religion with dioceses and monasteries which protected the Roman civil law and Orthodox identity. The Byzantine Empire ruled from the Greco-Roman city of Constantinople – kind of the second holiest place on Earth, was multinational and very proud of its legacy as the chief successor state of the former Roman Empire. As a matter of fact, the Byzantines regarded their state as the “Eastern Roman Empire.” The term Byzantine Empire was an invention of the 16th century Renaissance scholars after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 – the true successor of the Holy Roman Empire which was never used by its contemporaries. The Greeks then inherited the Roman Empire, without however ceasing to identify with it. And, what’s more, under Roman law in the unbroken jurisdiction of Roman Courts they were Roman Citizensunlike, the illiterate Charlemagne. The Roman-Catholic Alliance by the Venetians and the Franks during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 overthrew the Eastern Roman Empire when the Frankish Emperor was installed in Constantinople, with the imperial crown of Constantinople placed on the head of Count Baldwin of Flanders. This was the beginning of the Latin Empire of Constantinople. The bloody Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204 /at the connivance, sadly of the Venice Republic/, and wanton abandon of desecrating, raping, destroying, burning, torture, killing, and then cruel refugees from the fall of the City to the Ottomans in 1453, effectively brought much of the heritage of the Roman East back into the hitherto poorer Medieval civilization of the West.

Balkan peninsula has been a juncture between the Latin and Greek bodies of the Roman Empire, the destination of a massive presence of pagan Slavs, an area where Orthodox and Catholic Christianity met, as well as the meeting point between Islam and Christianity. According to the sources in the Acts, Saint Apostle Paul began spreading Christianity in the Balkan Peninsula and Europe towards the mid 1st century AD, where the first Christian communities were founded in the large cities, indicating that the beginnings of Christianity in the said area should be sought in the large urban centers. The present day Balkans is a very diverse ethnic-linguistic region, being home to multiple Slavic, Romance, and Turkic languages, as well as Greek, Albanian, and others.

Through their history many Old-Serbian Slavic tribes and ethnic groups lived in the area of the Balkans cherishing their heritage and languages, among them Proto-Slavs, Thracians, Sarmatians, Antes /who did not call themselves by this name, which was used foreign writers to designate Slavic tribal society between the Dniester and Don Rivers/, Iazyges, Roxolanes, Scythians, Illyrian tribes, Alans, Triballi tribe, Dalmatians, Dardanians, Huns, Goths, Pechegnes, Sclavenes /with multitute tribes of which some are known by names of Dragubites, Sagudates, Berzetes, Baiunetes and Belegezites who never became fully integrated into the Roman system of alliances or its cultural orbit in the 6th and the 7th centuries/, Cumans, Venethi-Wends, but also Avars, Celts, Germans, and various Germanic tribes. ‘Dardanians – Dardanics – Dardanos were called Troiana prosopia by Solin used to populate around the Danube and Vidin and Orahovac, on the Skitula River in Real Serbia and all along the former Dardania or the southern and the southeastern provinces of the Real Serbia. Their towns were Rashka on the Rashka River which joins the Maritza River, Stip, Samokov, Skopje, Krusevo or Stari Dol, Radovic, Prilep, Bitol, Kostur and so on from its former living areas around the present Nis. The smaller part of this Serb tribe lives in so-called present Albania as the Serbs in mentioned towns and their surroundings’. Novica R. Grujic

The ‘Celtic’ arrival in southeastern Europe and the formation of identities with a ‘Celtic ethnic element’, such as Scordiscan, are seen here in regional settings and explained as a consequence of the process of hybridization and restructuring of existing identities through a selective acceptance of global cultural templates from the Mediterranean and temperate Europe.” Danijel Dzino – The Celts in Illyricum. Thracian tribes in Dacia were in Apuli /present Alba Iulia, Transylvania/ Carps in the Eastern slopes of the Carpathians, and Suci in Oltenia/south of the Carpathians and north of the Danube. In the 7th century BC, the Thracians from Dacia came in contact with the Greek world on the shore of the Black Sea. Herodotus called them Getae and later the Romans called them Dacians. In the 3rd and the 2nd centuries BC, Rome expanded into the Balkan Peninsula and that evidently affected the evolution of the Thracian living in the Danubian space and in the Transylvanian Basin. They developed a distinct society and culture by the second half of the 4th century BC.

From the late 6th millennium BC, the gold and copper mining and processing was developing in Europe and there was extensive mining in Serbia and Bulgaria throughout to the 5th millennia BC. Pelasgian and later Etruscan population, prior to the classical civilization of Greeks, are by their script related to the Vinca culture – the source of the overall European literacy, including all the later cuneiform scripts of the Near East and the Mesopotamia. Already pretty enriched groups of knowledge about Slavs /and Serbs among them/ in the Antiquity are hidden by the inappropriate information and insufficient results of research of the Pelasgians – the indigenous people of the Balkans. Many golden objects have been found that were used for ornamentation of body and clothes and during this period Balkans may have been the most dynamic region of Europe. The Balkan region was the first area of Europe to experience the farming cultures in the Neolithic era – growing grain and raising livestock in the Balkans of Starchevo culture, 10000 years BC spread west and north into Pannonia and Central Europe.

In pre-classical and classical antiquity our Balkan region was home to Greek city-states /polis/, Illyrians, Tribals, Paeonians, Thracians, Epirotes, Mollosians, Thessalians, Dacians and other ancient groups. Later the Roman Empire conquered most of the Balkan region/Illyricum/ and spread the Roman culture and the Latin language, but significant parts still remained under classical Greek influence.

At the beginning of the 4th century AD after long and desperate fights with the invading Roman Empire, the imperial territory of the Balkan tribes lived under the rule of their ruler – Emperor Constantine the Great. Not knowing neither Greek, nor Latin, Emperor Constantine the Great established in 330, on 11 May the new imperial capital of Constantinople – the “New Rome” – Novi Rim – the City of Constantine – the Tsar city – Byzantion on Bosphorus /present Istanbul/ at the eastern end of the Via Egnatia road. The emperor Constantine settled 300.000 barbarians – Sarmatians in the devastated empty Balkan peninsula. Death of Emperor Constantine the Great in 337 led to formal crucial division of the Roman Empire into Western and Eastern Empires. City of Constantinople /modern Istanbul/ was located on a triangular peninsula along the Bosphorus and between the natural harbor of the Golden Horn and the Propontis /Marmara/ Sea. Constantinople served as the capital of Byzantine Empire from 324-1453, except for 1204-1261 when it was the capital of the Latin Empire founded by the Fourth Crusade. The promised western assistance and crusade to save Jerusalem collapsed in the fierce Battle of Varna on 10 November 1444 with heavy defeat of the Crusaders. Before the Crusaders tricky sacked the city of Constantinople in 1204, the city’s population might have been around 300,000, when Venice, the largest city in the West at the time, may have had a population of around 80,000 /Paris not more than around 20,000/.

During the middle Ages, the Balkans became the stage for a series of bloody wars and exhausting conquests and campaigns between the Byzantine, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Macedonian, Venetian and Serbian Empires. The Roumeli Empire /Rumelia/ – the Byzantine Empire was actually formed on three main cultural components: the Roman principle in political and administration processes and the military concept, the Greek component in language and culture and in the Christian component in religion. In his struggle for the reign in Roumeli Empire, the Emperor Basil II ended the civil war as the winner and turned to events in the Balkans and in the Samoil state. The Samoil or Samuil‘s State encompassed the central areas of the present Macedonia, the Danubian Bulgaria, Rascia – Rashka, Bosnia, Epirus and Albania with Durres, was under constant threats from already shaken status of the Roumeli Empire – Rumelia, and so the Emperor Basil II carried out activities for stabilisation of his state, by waging smaller or larger wars during next several decades from 986 til 1018. The Roumeli campaign in 986 ended with harsh defeat of Rumelians in the fight between town of Serdica /Sofia/ and Philipopolis /Plovdiv/. The crucial campaign of Emperor Basil II against the Bulgarian Empire lasted nearly fifteen years when in 1004 the Rumelians eventually took Skopje and in 1005 captured Durres by conquest of nearly half of the Samoil state.  The decisive battle was the Belasica Battle – Battle of Kleidion, waged on the 29th July 1014 which ended fataly for the Samoil’s state. The army of Emperor Basil II of some 45000 soldiers attacked the Slavic enemies with some 20000 soldiers from two harsh mountainous directions. This caused pannic and debacle of the defenders of the Kleidion Klidion – KljučKey fortification on Struma River on Belasica Mountain when Emperor Samoil was rescued from the overall chaos by his son Gavrilo Radomir who quickly took Emperor on horse to Prilep. To the disastrous defeat of the army of Emperor Samoil added brutal act of the Roumeli Emperor who blinded nearly 150000 soldiers, leaving every 100th man half-blind so he could lead to Prilep the rest of 99 blinded soldiers back to their Emperor Samoil. Such outrageous scene of blinded soldiers led to the sudden death of Emperor Samoil on the 6th October 1014 by which ended his Empire, and the Byzantine Emperor Vasilije II – Basil II got nickname of Bulgar killer vulgaroktonos. By its violent end and brutality the Battle of Belasica exists in historical memory of people settled in the areas of towns of Bitola, Prilep and Veles, where still today there are settlements bearing name of Slepče /blinded/… Izvor Goran Gorski

Throughout the Balkans turbulent history, borders of the Balkan peninsula were ever fluctuating, often involved in multitude conflicts with not only the Arabs, Persians and Turks of the east, but also with its Christian neighbors – the Bulgarians, Serbs, Normans and the Crusaders which all at one time or another conquered large amounts of its territory. Tsarigrad – the City of Constantinople was a bastion of resistance against Arab expansion, so the history of European civilization might have been dramatically different had the Arab sieges of Constantinople in 674-678, and in 717-718, succeeded. Christian in nature, Roumeli Empire – Byzantine Empire was perennially at wars. Flourishing during the reign of the Macedonian Emperors, Byzantine demise was the consequence of attacks by Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, and Ottoman Turks. By the end, the Roumelia – the Byzantine Empire consisted of nothing but Constantinople and small holdings in mainland Greece with all other territories in both the Balkans and Asia Minor gone. Ironically, the most destructive siege of Constantinople came in 1204, when Christian knights of the Fourth Crusade sacked Constantinople and partitioned Byzantium. The nearby suburb of Galata, once a region of the City of Constantinople became an important trading colony of Genoa. Constantinople’s preeminent role in preserving ancient Greco-Roman civilization lasted until the city’s final conquest by the Ottomans on 29 May 1453. The conclusion was reached in 1453, which marked a turning point in history, when the city of Constantinople was eventually besieged by the Sultan Mahmud II “the Conquerer”/Mehmed II el Fatih, Mehemmed II (1451-1481) “The Conqueror”/, bringing the “Second Rome” to an end. The Ottoman Empire had supremacy over the entire Balkans during the next centuries.

Arkona — the holy city of the Slavs: The West Slavic Baltic tribes /Vends/, who settled between the Elbe /Laba/, Oder /Odra/ and Vistula, achieved high development by the 9th-10th centuries AD, having built on the island of Rane /Rugen/ the sacred city of temples of Arkon which served for all Baltic Slavs as the Slavic Mecca and the Delphic Oracle. The Slavic tribe of the Rans formed a priestly caste in their midst /like the Indian Brahmins or Babylonian Chaldeans/ and no serious military-political issue was resolved by other Slavic tribes without consulting the Rans. The wounds /Ruans/ possessed the runic script of the Vendian tradition, the graphics of which differed markedly from the well-known older and younger runes /probably the term rane – wounds itself came from the Slavic to wound, that is to carve runes on wooden tablets/. The construction of the city of temples and the rise of the pagan culture of the Vendian ethnos was a response of the Slavic priestly elite for the ideological consolidation of the Baltic Slavs against the increased expansion of the Frankish, and then German and Danish aggressors, who carried out a systematic genocide of the Slavic population and its expulsion from the occupied territories under the banner of Christianization. By the 13th-14th centuries, under the intense onslaught of Danish and German Crusaders, the Slavic principalities of Paradise, Mecklenburg, Brandenburg and others fell, and the Baltic Slavic Vendian ethnos ceased to exist. Mikhail Alekseenkov – Slavic Spirituality

“The center of Orthodoxy was never in Tsarigrad, as it is thought. This was the royal town for some time administered by the citizens of the Eastern Roman Empire – the Eastern Rome, and later by the Greeks and the Ottomans. However the true heart of the Orthodoxy was Jerusalem and the Mount Sinai – the monasteries of Mar Saba and the nearby Saint Catherine until the Crusaders’ conquest when Saint Sava transferred the sea of the Orthodoxy to the Mt. Athos. We should know that the Judea is an area and that Judeans were not the nation, but there were various people living there including the Judeans, Aramens, Palestinians, Arabs… The Palestinians are also the Judish people who originally were Orthodox, and became Muslim only in the 12th century….. Since 1204 and for the next 80 years lasted the intense plundering of the fallen Orthodox Empire on the territories of the Near East, and in Tsarigrad and Greece. Venice was erected from the plundered wealth, likewise Genoa and Vatican, and numerous Frankish states out of which will later rise France and Germany and the whole West. This plundered wealth, art works and records have generated the Renaissance in the West”. Miloš Stanić

“The Fourth Crusade in 1204 which led to the fall of Tsarigrad – Constantinople instead of liberation of Jerusalem, had left exceptionally deep wounds and memories which last until the present. Even before this tragic event at the beginning of the 13th century, the Crusaders campaigns turned into attacks against those who were regarded as the religious and civilization opponents : heretics, Jews, and even against the Orthodox Christians. The religious passion and adventures of the Crusaders ever since the beginning of this epoch was performed by aggression and violence not only towards the Muslims, but also towards the other ethnic and confessional groups”. Aleksandar Uzelac

At the beginning of the 19th century most of the Balkans was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from Constantinople, and the rest by the Austrian Empire from Vienna. Beginning with the Serb rising against the Ottoman yoke in 1804, the First and the Second Serbian Uprising, the 19th and early 20th centuries saw a long struggle by Balkan peoples to form independent countries that would afford their citizens liberty and a reasonably good life.

“The Аrbanasi noble rulers and the bey lords as well as the pashas of non-Arbanasi origin who in critical historical moments ruled the neighboring areas of the Arbanasi region, were the largest winners thanks to such conditions of the European Turkey at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century. The families of Bushati and Mahmud-begovich-Begolli right during the Vienna war and in wars at the beginning of the 18th century had definitely strenghted their absolute power in the areas which they ruled by inertia from the 19th century in one or the other way. Breakup of the Ottoman army 1687–1688 ejected to the stage the Arbanasi pashas who had in their disposal large mobilization basis of the Arbanasi mercenaries. In 1688 Мehmed-bey Мahmud-begović and Sijavush-bey Bihorac with their Arbanasi armies plundered and regained the areas rebelious towards the Porte of Stari Vlah, Poljimlje, Raska and the present western Serbia“. Uroš Šešum, Srbija i Stara Srbija (1804–1839)

Inheritance of the administrative duties in the areas of the present Albania and in Metohija within the same families was common right because the Porte since they got conquered those areas, led very flexible policy of leaning on the local lords and respect of the tribal autonomy. Due to the relationship of the Porte with the Arbanasi people, the Merdita tribe enjoyed the autonomy in the territory from Liesse to Tirana until the beginning of the 19th century by tribute payment not collected in the same regularly routine manner that taxes were and by not letting the royal army into their territory. The pasha-ruling family of Bergini governed Tirana and the surroundings in the 17th century, while the ancestors of the Sinan-pasa ruled in Vlora and Delvin for three hundred years“. L G. Аrš, Албания и Эпир в конце XVIII – начале XIX в западнобалканские пашалыки Османской Империи, Москва 1963, 33, 40.

To understand the Balkan wars (1912–1913), besides political and military history, cultural history has to be taken into account. The goal of politics of both Kingdom of Serbia and Kingdom of Montenegro was to liberate Serbs from Ottoman rule and to unite into one independent and sovereign state. It is necessary to consider the worldview of the age, the previous history at the single moment of freeing Kosovo – common paradigm of all diverse parts of the Serbian nation in the Balkans. Boris Milosavljevic, The Balkan wars 1912-1913

The First Balkan War was one of the most important events in the modern political history of the South-Eastern Europe waged by the allies of four Christian states – Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro against the Ottoman Empire with intention to end the Turkish rule in the Balkans and liberate their compatriots from that centuries-long rule. There were 356000 soldiers mobilized in the First Balkan war which started on 18 October 1912 and ended with the triumph of the four Balkan states. The Balkan Wars lasted from 8 October 1912 till the 10 August 1913 and marked completion of the centuries national liberation struggle of the members of the Balkan Alliance. In the First Balkan War which ended on 30 May 1913, by the London Peace Treaty, the Christian states of the Balkans – Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria together fought against the Ottoman Empire. Turkey was defeated in this war, so had along the London Peace Treaty to renounce all territories in Europe, except Istanbul and the surroundings. Bulgaria was dissatisfied over the division of the spoils in Macedonia, made in secret by its former allies, Serbia and Greece, and attacked to force them out of Macedonia, starting the Second Balkan War. On 29 June 1913 Bulgarian Army attacked the Serbian Army on Bregalnica River, which caused the Second Balkan War. The Serbian Army, supported by the units of Montenegro and Greece, ended the Bregalnica Battle with victory and liberation of Stara and Juzna Serbia – Old and South Serbia, now Kosovo and Metohija and North Macedonia. The Second Balkan War was used by Romania, which attacked Bulgaria from the north, and Turkey, which made its campaign from the south. Bulgaria was in difficult position, so on 10 August needed to sign the armistice, which was very unfavorable for it – Romania got Dobruja, Turkey got part of Thrace with the town of Edirne, Greece gained Aegean Macedonia and Serbia the Vardar Macedonia. Bulgaria kept Pirin Macedonia, as well as parts of Thrace and Dobruja. So was ended the Balkan wars a hundred years ago.

One of the burning questions in the Balkan history of the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th, until the Balkan wars 1912/13, was the Macedonian question. Not only the Balkan peoples and their states were engaged in the struggle over Macedonia but also the Great Powers endeavored to master this region, as it was rather significant for their political, economic, cultural, religious and other interests in the Balkans /Slavenko Terzic/. Independence, coming at different times to different Balkan countries, often did not mean liberty or prosperity, nor even freedom from the tutelage of larger powers. “With the Peace of London, the Great European powers, in the redistributing the land taken from Turks among the Balkan states, decided to create a new state, Albania”./Zolo, Danilo, Invoking humanity : war, law and global order/. In the past century hopes for better times have sometimes been high, for instance in the officially democratic Europe of the 1920s; at other times they have been very low, as when the 1930s and 1940s saw a decline into dictatorship, renewed invasions, and then /except for Greece/ imposed Communist rule. As said, ever since the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the geopolitical map of the Balkan Peninsula has been tailored by the interests of the great powers, first of all, the actors of the Ottoman Empire followed by the Austrian Hungarian Empire, then Russia and, today, Germany and the USA. The struggle goes on today, in greatly changed external circumstances. Structural stability, the rule of law, implementation of business ethics and institutional capacities at national and regional levels are equally important to macro-economic stability and proper tourism infrastructure. In spite of the burden of all the history – we broaden perceptions on the Balkans doing all about ennobling the soul, promoting lofty ethics and morality and giving visitors spiritual values that encourage its positive recognition and enlightening experiences, bringing the Balkan countries into the 21st century tourism.


The Balkans means group of countries of such great diversity and rarely seen textures that one gets the blown up by the colors, cultures, hospitality, flavors, tastes, smells, traditions, dances, music, food, myths, legends and striking landscapes. Even the geographic extent of the “Balkan” region is a matter of controversy, but the presence of contradictory issues is itself characteristically Balkan. The term “Balkan” has been used not only for geographical purposes, but also to define a certain mentality of the people living in the area. As the result of the mixture through the turbulent Balkan history, communities with intense ethnic feelings, incorporating the unique cultural and linguistic characteristics of the whole Balkan Peninsula were created. The Balkan nations still have an immense and admirable cultural heritage in common, which is often concealed, neglected or denied in nationalist discourses. Balkan peoples are a more physical and affectionate culture, in public and private and possess a special ethos – independence, pride, courage and honor. All Balkan people are affectionate, males and females hold hands, kiss cheeks, touch one another, etc. They are a much more caring culture and more willing to show affection publicly. In order to be successful in discovering the culturally diversified Balkan population you must be open-minded, be willing to learn about other cultures and beliefs and be accepting of differences in people and cultures.

Due to such peoples’ composition, the Balkan region is today spoken of as a typical multi ethnic and multicultural area. This is the region in which the archways of numerous civilizations cross each other (of Islam, Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism) and where its multicultural diversity represented both wealth and a challenge for dialogue and cultural interpenetration as well as, in some historical phases, a cause for conflicts. The latter tendency was more dominant in those historical situations when the cultural, ethnic and religious differences were instrumentalized by the powerful forces, that is, the politics on the Balkans or outside it for the sake of the realization of their particular geo-strategic interests. In these historical situations, the cultural diversity, ethnic and religious, was transformed from the bridges of cooperation and richness into the borders and additional causes for conflict generation. That is why it is not accidental that the greatest writer on the Balkans, the Nobel prize winner Ivo Andrić, as a connoisseur of the spiritual life and relations in the region, wrote about the Balkans using the metaphors such as a dark vilayet, a damned yard, a bridge on the Drina as an area where diverse worlds meet and clash. It is also an area where the narcissism of small differences is expressed and where love and passion are extreme. Here people passionately love each other but they are even more passionate, morbidly passionate in their hatreds./quoted from Ljubiša Mitrović – THE GEOPOLITICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF THE TRANSITION PROCESS OF A REGION: FROM THE BALKANS TOWARDS SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE/

South Slavs of the Balkans can be divided into several types : the Dinaric type which includes the Dinaric areas of the Balkans and regions inhabited by Dinaric population who had greatly influenced the indigenous people. The Central Type mainly includes population of the Juzna Morava and the Vardar Rivers basins and the Shopi area which stretches up to the Danube River. To the East-Balkanic Type belongs population mostly settled away from the Balkans, in the Pannonian Plain. Those types of population pretty differ and distinguish themselves, which can be noticed at first site. There are vast areas of the Balkans where the Serb and the Bulgarian ethnic features and characteristics of population melt one into the other, as in the real Macedonia, south of Veles and the Shopi region, between the rivers of Timok and the Iskar. The race features of population east of the Iskar River and Ihtiman up to the Black Sea greatly differ from the other South Slavs who live west of the Iskar River, that along with the Marica River basin, create the ethnic line.

The vivacious members of the Dinaric race highlanders are to be found today in the mountainous areas of the Western Balkans (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, most of northwestern Bulgaria, northwestern Republic of Macedonia and northern Albania). Dinaric highlanders are characterized by a rough strength and down-rightness, by a peculiar trustworthiness, by a feeling for honor and love of the home, by bravery, strong masculinity and the certain self-consciousness. The Dinaric highlanders race is very tall, well-knit, dark pigmented, of high-skull and round-skull, with a very large, long, but also rather broad face and with a large, more or less bent nose. The eyes of Dinaric highlanders are wide open, brown to brown-black. The expression of the eyes is often something defiant, self-conscious, merry and bluff. Thick mustaches of Dinaric highlander are often met with, as also heavy eyebrows. The hair of the Dinaric highlander is brown to black. Dinaric race represents a stock which is likely found somewhat uncouth, with a rough cheerfulness, or even wit, and is easily stirred to enthusiasm. The gift for music, above all for song, is particularly pronounced. The sociability of the Dinaric race is a rough and noisy one; as between man and man it is generally sincere and upright. Dinaric innate nature embodied in cohesiveness of small communities which continuously strive to reach clearing, where life is much easier and embellished, what is the stage of cultural development that civilized societies have already passed through.

Traveling the Balkans it is to trace the Medieval Europe scenes with nationalities originating from Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania…. One can’t understand the Balkans without understanding its ethnic groups, and one can’t understand the ethnic groups and their history without knowing the influence of the region’s geography. These are countries rich in ancient myths and its cultural heritage also point to a time when they knew peace and cooperation, when early Balkani peoples worshiped life-loving deities who appreciated beauty, joy, and inspired a wide range of sacred arts. Long suppressed by later monotheism, those ancient deities nevertheless are still wedded to the Balkan countries. It is this churning energy and passion that will never be forgotten.

The Balkans Cultures

The peoples of the Balkan possess a special artistic spirit, and numerous crafts and handwork have been practiced here for centuries. Today these traditional Balkan skills are still performed in much the original manner.  The skillful hands of the Balkan masters have created wonderful pieces of art from wood, stone and metal and the talent of the Balkan women has been woven in the fibers of the impressive rugs adorned with decorative elements. The carved wooden ceilings are perhaps the most impressive examples of wood-carving in old Balkan houses.

The Balkan culinary products collected from the fragrant alpine lawns and century-old forests, offered in some suitable ceramic pots, are a desired souvenir to make a gift from Balkan tour. All of the Balkan food production is from original old recipes, which have been prepared for centuries by the Balkan woman with her natural taste for beauty. Famous Balkan masters and herbalists have developed all those recipes, which makes them unique. Master artisans, woodcarvers and painters of the Balkans actively participate in numerous manifestations and touristic events of the Balkans showing their skills to numerous visitors. They create original Balkan architectural and cultural ambiance in their beauty and fine workmanship that cannot be surpassed.

Living Art of the Western Balkans – short documentary film by filmmaker Melody Gilbert (

Balkans culture is traditionally male-dominated. In some parts of the Balkans clan-tribal social organization is still preserved and men are considered the head of the household. Many vestiges of the patriarchal system are still evident in woman’s lower social status. Traditionally women perform only domestic work. Infant care is largely the role of the mother. Godparents also play a significant part in children upbringing. It is customary for several generations to live together under the same roof. Ethnic Albanians tend to have large families, of eight to ten children, and so extended families often live together in a compound of houses enclosed by a stone wall. Even in Serbian families which tend to be smaller, relatives, aunts, uncles and other close family members often live, if not in the same house, then in close proximity to one another, which evidences the particular closeness of extended families. Inheritance customs follow a system of male primogeniture: the first-born son inherits the family’s wealth. Or the sworn virgins who become the new head of the family after the father dies and dress and act like men, and must take a vow of chastity…..

Balkan Folklore

Balkan folklore dances are beautiful danced in a line or circle, with dancers linked by a hand or shoulder hold. This means that you do not need a partner for the Balkan folk dance ! There is a repeated sequence of steps, some very simple, others quite intricate. The speed of the Balkan folk dance can vary from slow to brisk, but you do not need to be exceptionally fit or agile. In group, men and women enjoy each others dances, whilst trying to retain the correct style ! Balkan folk dances are based on the dance rhythms which are found more or less exclusively in the countries surrounding the Balkan mountain ranges which traverse south-eastern Europe. These rhythmic patterns date back to the pre-Roman times, but have been modified and developed as a result of the movement of peoples and cultures, which cross political boundaries.

AKUD Lola – Vranjanska svita

Staro Vranje – Kurta Ajredinović Čoček

Bakija Bakić – Niški čoček

Božidar Boki Milosević & Dušan Radetić Sextet – Čoček

Angel Nancevski Pance – Paunovo oro

More sokol pie

Dušan Radetić – Pajduška 5/8 oro

Miodrag Jasarevic – Protino kolo

Crmničko oro

Dule Nikolić – Milkino kolo

Balkan Music

Itinerant Gypsy musicians, whose importance must not be underestimated, aided and abetted this process of musical cross-fertilization. Gypsy Musicians continue to do so, though their own musical culture has been influenced by exposure to so-called “civilized” West European and American musical cultures. The development of musical instruments in the Balkans has also played a huge part in varying the sounds of Balkan dance music throughout the centuries. The biggest change came with the creation of tempered tuning by instrument makers and composers in the 17th century, which was adopted by folk musicians of the ubiquitous piano accordion throughout Europe, and now supplemented by the electronic synthesizer!

The asymmetrical aksak rhythm represents one of the distinctive and most vital features of the musical traditions on the Balkans. The asymmetrical aksak rhythm system has almost been unknown. It is characterized by combinations of unequal beats, such as 2 + 3 and their extensions, particularly 2 + 2 + 2 + 3. Owing to inadequate transcriptions of most of the musical notations of the vocal and instrumental Balkan music from the beginning of the 20th century, it was hardly possible to perceive the presence of this asymmetric rhythm in the Balkan area.
Famous Vlatko Stefanovski in one of songs of his great music calls upon fate & luck, the 2 constants of the roma cosmos, in a song that seems to have existed for centuries. “we all have our own star that follows us while we live/ when it brightly shines, man has luck/ when it dies, destiny…”Stefanovski is a remarkable guitarist and songwriter, and the founder of the cult rock band Leb i Sol (Bread and Salt), which was one of a handful of Balkan rock bands to have a real reputation outside its home territory. He has toured internationally and collaborated with the best musicians in the Balkans, bringing his concerts to Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia. Stefanovski’s intimacy with the folk music of his region, as well as the differing ethnic styles that coexist there, enabled him to write “Gypsy Song” with great authority. The song was part of a soundtrack he composed for a film of the same name.

Leb i Sol – Uči me majko, karaj me

Kulin Ban – traditional, ethno Balkan music

Dragoslav Pavle Aksentijevic and the Zapis Group – Concert in the Sava Center, 2004

Trag Ethno Group Ensemble

Iskon Ethno Group

Kalem – Zbog tebe, mome ubava

Jordan Nikolic – Ej dragi, dragi

Himzo Polovina – Kad ja podoh na Bembasu

Meho Puzic – Snijeg pade na behar na voce

Snezana Spasic & Naissa – Zito znjela mlada moma


The Balkan region is where east meets west, and this applies particularly to the musical Balkan rhythms. Since they are used for social dancing rather than virtuoso solo performance, the dance rhythms need to be comparatively regular in tempo. In this respect Balkan rhythms differ from the much more complicated systems of Asia and the Orient, which use elaborate tonal and poly-rhythmic structures. This means that Balkan rhythms can be easily understood /and danced/ by Western Europeans !

Balkan Gastronomy

Here in the Balkans we are all proud of the secrets and experience of the old culinary masters of the Balkans, and flavors and tastes awaiting visitors. Honey is rich in polyphenol compounds, which act as natural antioxidants, and were becoming increasingly popular because of their potential role to improve human health. The honey consumed in most of the Balkans is harvested from traditional hives and processed using traditional methods. The Balkan Gastronomy is characterized by highly diverse and pretty spicy food, plenty of fresh or-and stuffed vegetables, abundance of milk- and meat-based dishes, delicious food prepared from smoked or grilled meat, pickled salad, variations of filo pastry pies and desserts….

We here in the Balkans incorporate passion and attention in every stage of food production, starting from the careful choice of raw materials and supplies, old recipes, cooking and production process of food, which provides true surprises, satisfaction and unique memories of consumers, directly from the rich traditions of our homes….

The Balkans boasts a favorable climate and a strong wine heritage, some 200 indigenous grape varieties grown on almost 65 000 hectares by about 800 wine companies – family producers to large firms, connection to the expanding markets …. Wine tourism is part of Balkan cultural packages. Wine tourism provides a lucrative income for local producers of the Balkans, by boosting rural development and creating more jobs through direct sales while linking speciality foods with tourism.

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