Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Hidden europe argues that the European Union needs the Balkans just as much as the Balkans need the EU

article summary —

The origin of the croissant is not the most obvious starting point for a perspective on the relations of the Balkans to the rest of Europe. But it is a useful one. Hands up all those who know the city from which the croissant hails! No, it is not Paris. However much of an affront it may seem to modern French bakers, the croissant is in fact a Viennese creation. Its crescent half moon shape reminded the good citizens of the Austrian city of their success in repelling the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683. Its gentle mocking of the symbol of Ottoman power pleased Vienna's café society. The foreign forces had been sent packing.

A hundred and fifty years later, the celebrated Austrian diplomat and chancellor Metternich commented "Asia begins at the Landstraße", speaking of the then quite modest road that led out of Vienna to the southeast. Metternich's pithy comment reminded the Viennese all too forcefully that they lived on the very edge of European civilisation.

But recent years have challenged us all, not just the burghers of Vienna, to rethink our mental map of Europe.


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About the authors

hidden europe

and Susanne Kries manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.

This article was published in hidden europe 1.