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 to date. This is evidence
for early human migrations to the rest of Europe through the Balkans.
- 7th millennium BCE – Europe’s first Neolithic farmers migrated
to the Balkans from the Near East and settled here.
- 6th millennium BCE – the Great Flood in the Black Sea zone.
Many scholars associate it with the Biblical flood.
- 5th millennium BCE – 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
CE, Christianity (brought by apostles Paul and
Judaism (brought by Jewish
communities from different parts of Roman Empire but majority of them arrived
here in 15th 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.
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
– 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.
Simeon of Bulgaria (893-927)
– the first Tsar.
Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566) - the greatest among all Ottoman sultans.
and US inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer best
known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating
current (AC) electricity supply system.
Catholic Religious Sister and world renowned missionary.