Why the Balkans?


THE BALKAN PENINSULA HAS BEEN FOR MILLENNIA A CROSS-ROAD BETWEEN EASTERN (I.E. NEAR EASTERN) AND WESTERN (I.E. EUROPEAN) CIVILIZATIONS, WHERE THE NORTHERN CULTURE MEETS THE MEDITERRANEAN ONE.    

   

SOME FACTS WHICH WILL HELP EXPLAIN WHY WE WORK HERE AND WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM THE REGION:  

  • 1,6 million year old human remains found in Kozarnika cave, Bulgaria are among the oldest human remains in Europe found so far. This is evidence for early human migrations to the rest of Europe through the Balkans.
  • 7th millennium BC – Europe’s first Neolithic farmers migrated to the Balkans from the Near East and settled here.
  • 6th millennium BC – the Great Flood in the Black Sea zone. Many scholars associate it with the Biblical flood.
  • 5th millennium BC – Balkan Chalcolithic civilization turned, for the first time in human history, metal processing into an industry and built the Europe’s first proto-towns.
  • The following ancient people developed their civilizations in the Balkan area: Minoans and Ancient Greeks, Macedonians, Illyrians and Thracians, Celts and Romans as well as different Hellenic, Albanian, Germanic, Iranic, Slavic, Armenian, Jewish and Turkic peoples and communities make the history and culture of Balkans complex and interesting.

   

TODAY WE DISCOVER THE REMAINS OF MANY CIVILIZATIONS THAT ONCE EXISTED IN THE BALKAN TERRITORY. SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR ARE:

  • The Minoan civilization;
  • The Ancient Greek civilization with the world's oldest democratic state of Athens;
  • Hellenistic civilizations and the Empire of Alexander the Great;
  • Roman civilization and Empire;
  • The Orthodox civilization and the Byzantine Empire, Bulgarian Tsardom (Empire) – home of the Cyrillic alphabet, Serbia, Wallachia and Moldova etc.;
  • West European civilization and the Kingdoms of Croatia and Hungary, the Crussaders’ Latin Empire, Venetian and Genoese republics as well as Austria;
  • Ottoman civilization;
  • In the course of the history parts of the Balkans were conquered for shorter periods by mighty neighbors such as Achaemenid Persia and the Mongol Empires.

   

THE PENINSULA IS HOME TO THREE WORLD RELIGIONS:

  • Since 1st century AD, Christianity (brought by apostles Paul and Andrew) and Judaism (brought by Jewish communities from different parts of Roman Empire but majority of them arrived here in 15 th century after prosecutions from Western Europe).
  • Since 14th century, Islam (brought by Ottoman Turks).
  • Today, a majority of Balkan people are Christian Orthodox. Here are the sees of four Christian Orthodox patriarchates (Ecumenical, Bulgarian, Serbian and Romanian).
  • Croatia and Slovenia are the peninsula’s traditional Catholic countries, though catholic communities as well as evangelist communities are spread throughout the region.
  • Beside majority of Muslim Sunni Turks in the Balkans live also vital Shia communities.

   

FAMOUS NAMES FROM THE BALKANS YOU MAY ASSOCIATE WITH FACTS YOU KNOW FROM HISTORY

Achilles – a Greek hero from the Trojan War.

Orpheus – legendary Thracian musician, poet, prophet and king.

Alexander the Great (336-323 BC) – king of Macedonia who established the mighty Macedonian Empire.

Ancient Greek philosophers Socrates, Aristotle and Plato.

Spartacus – Roman gladiator of Thracian origin, who led the major slave uprising against Rome.

Roman and Byzantine emperors like Diocletian, Constantine the Great and Justinian were born in the Balkan provinces of Roman Empire.

Emperor Simeon of Bulgaria (893-927) – the first Tsar.

Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566) - the greatest among all Ottoman sultans.

Nikola Tesla - Serbian and US inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

Mother Teresa - Roman Catholic Religious Sister and world renowned missionary.

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