hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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Strolling along the riverside promenade of Novi Becej, a small town on the shores of the River Tisa in Serbia’s Vojvodina region (photo © Laurence Mitchell).
Magazine article

A River Town out of Season

Bicycles outnumber cars in Novi Becej, a small town on the east bank of the River Tisa in the flatlands of the Vojvodina region of northern Serbia. Laurence Mitchell catches the changing moods of Novi Becej as autumn slips into ...
Magazine article

Bradt Guide to Serbia

Laurence Mitchell has written a number of Bradt Guides, including titles on Norfolk (where he lives), central Asia and the Balkan region. We have been thumbing through Laurence's latest Bradt book, the 5th edition of his 'Bradt Guide to Serbia', ...
Lock-in tower (called a 'kulla') and traditional stone house in the north Albanian village of Theth (photo © Laurence Mitchell).
Magazine article

Albania: A Tale of Two Valleys

It is unlikely that great streams of tourists will be arriving in the mountains of northern Albania anytime soon. But this part of the southern Balkans now benefits from better access roads. Guest contributor Laurence Mitchell reports from two ...
Magazine article

Socialist Architecture in Yugoslavia

In Tito's Yugoslavia, architects offered an ideological space between East and West - aligned neither to Soviet-style communism nor to the capitalist tradition. The result was some assertively different architecture, not all of it memorably ...
All aboard the Sargan Eight Railway in western Serbia. The train is at Sargan Vitasi station (photo © Laurence Mitchell).
Magazine article

The Hills of Western Serbia

There are many visions of Yugoslavia's past. Laurence Mitchell visits the hills of western Serbia to learn how heritage and history fuel the imagination. It's a journey that starts and ends in Uzice and takes in the famous Sargan Eight narrow-gauge ...
Magazine article

Recalling Tito

From Skopje to Moscow, from Sarajevo to New Delhi, the names of roads and squares recall Josep Broz Tito, who was President of Yugoslavia from 1953 until his death in 1980. But what happened to all the Tito towns in former Yugoslavia? Titograd ...
Young men in Prishtine, Kosovo (photo © Malik5 / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

What colour is your flag when it burns?
  

Kosovo is arguably Europe's newest country. Most nations now recognising the leadership of the territory as being a legitimate national government, though even some European Union members are still withholding recognition. Kosovo still has internal ...
Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children pose for a photo at the renovated Centre for Co-operation and Integration ‘Fidan Lahu’, funded by the OSCE, at Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje (OSCE / Hasan Sopa).
Magazine article

Balkan identities
  

So you think you know the key ethnic groups in Kosovo? Serbs and Albanians, to be sure. But life on the ground is more complicated. Who are the Gorani? Then there is a trio of ethnic groups who are locally referred to as the RAE community, viz. ...
Letter from Europe

A Kosovo tale

  • 31 Jan 2016
There's a touch of the wild west about Ferizaj. It has a frontier feel. When the English traveller Edith Durham travelled through Kosovo in 1908, she stopped just briefly in Ferizaj, remarking that this was a community created by the ...
Moscow Belorussky railway station, the starting point for the direct service from Moscow to Sofia which connects seven capital cities. The new service launches on 13 December 2015 (photo © Victoria Demidova / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

New train services for 2016

  • 3 Dec 2015
New railway timetables kick in across much of Europe on Sunday 13 December - so here's a summary of interesting changes which we've noted in the new schedules. They include a useful new direct link from Moscow to Sofia - a journey which connects ...
Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia & Herzegovina, is served by just one international train each day (photo © Dejan Vekic / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Slow train to Sarajevo
  

Twenty years ago this autumn, the Dayton Peace Accord brought a measure of peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Join us as we take the train from Zagreb to Sarajevo, travelling through a region which still bears the scars of ...
Letter from Europe

New rail services across Europe

  • 16 Nov 2014
Four weeks from today much of Europe will awaken to new train timetables. Each year in December, new schedules come into effect across the continent. The big day this year is Sunday 14 December. We take look at a dozen positive developments worth ...
Magazine article

The Talgo tale
  

The story of the Talgo trains of Bosnia reveals a quite stunning waste of money. This is a country which invested in a new fleet of trains which are simply incompatible with its antiquated rail ...
Magazine article

Kratovo: a town worth its salt

The Macedonian town of Kratovo is by-passed by most travellers exploring the southern Balkans. But guest contributor Chris Deliso took time to discover the town which was once an important mining centre. Join us as we walk over the bridges of ...
Magazine article

One country, two entities

Several European countries are split on ethnic lines. We see the dramas being out in Ukraine just now. Belgium is even more decisively split, but happily the results are not as fractious. Shift to Bosnia and Herzegovina and we see the great game of ...
Letter from Europe

Winter comes to Kroscienko

  • 5 Dec 2013
The winter snows have come to higher parts of the Carpathians, and already the beech woods and forests of fir are clad in white. Kroscienko, a little village in the Polish hills, is very quiet this time of year. Were it not for the fact that the ...
Magazine article

Of alkari, lace and wooden toys
  

Rudolf Abraham has over the years written about many of Croatia's most remarkable landscapes for hidden europe. Now he returns to the country in search of something more subtle: Croatia’s remarkable craft traditions and festivals. Rudolf argues ...
Magazine article

Hidden Istria
  

Istria may be defined by its coastline, but the hinterland warrants a visit too. Rudolf Abraham, co-author of the new Bradt Guide to Istria, invites us to join him in a search for mediaeval frescoes, truffles and an enigmatic pillar of shame. Along ...
Magazine article

The ghost of Beeching
  

Is cutting public transport links in rural areas and across its borders really the right way for Croatia to gear up to join the European Union this summer? We look at how the pieties of the market are playing havoc with rail services in the north ...
Letter from Europe

Through the Rhodopes

  • 13 Jan 2013
Septemvri might have been a railway town like Swindon. If Isambard Kingdom Brunel had not built a carriage works at Swindon on his Great Western Railway, the place would probably have remained an insignificant dot on the map halfway between London ...
Letter from Europe

End of the line for the peace train

  • 9 Dec 2012
Europe's railway geography was reshaped last night. New timetables kicked in, bringing a host of novel travel options. Newly-built rail routes opened in Holland and Austria. A new high-speed service now links Amsterdam and Brussels. And northern ...
Magazine article

Zagreb street art
  

When you paint something on the street, it is no longer your own. It becomes public property. Street art demands of artists that they 'let go', that they have the courage to relinquish ownership of their work. Rudolf Abraham takes a look at the ...
Magazine article

Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb
  

Nicely multi-ethnic, assertively multi-confessional, the cemetery at Maragoj is a fine spot to fire the imagination of the living. The cemetery in Zagreb's northern suburbs is one of Europe's most evocative burial ...
Letter from Europe

The naming of sons

  • 24 Jun 2012
You probably don't chart your progress through the year with an ecclesiastical calendar. We do, but in truth we cannot really recommend it as a sensible way of confronting modernity. It is all too easy to miss dental appointments, dinner dates and ...
The city of Ohrid, on the shores of the eponymouslake, is Macedonia’s premier tourist destination (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Quo vadis Macedonia?
  

Protecting the national narrative is a fine art in Macedonia, the south Balkan republic which neighbouring Greece insists should be referred to only as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (or FYROM for short). Join us as we try and unravel ...
Magazine article

Sharing sacred space
  

The clean lines that we think divide religions often become very blurred in the Balkan region. Thus shrines may be claimed as sacred by adherents of more than one religion. We look at the phenomenon of syncretic ...
Letter from Europe

Train services of yesteryear

  • 30 Jun 2011
There is much talk today about how we live in a new age of the train, and that many journeys around Europe are now much more sensibly undertaken by rail rather than air. Only too true, but such rhetoric does imply that rail travel in Europe was ...
Letter from Europe

Travels through Macedonia

  • 4 Apr 2011
We journeyed through Macedonia last week. We stayed at the country's only World Heritage Site at Ohrid and then hugged the Albanian border as we travelled north through Debar to Tetovo. This is territory that has long fascinated travel writers and ...
Mosque and minaret in Baščaršija, the Old Town of Sarajevo (photo © Xseon / istockphoto.com).
Magazine article

Europe by Rail: Balkan images
  

hidden europe editors Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries showcase a new book which they have edited. Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers was published in March 2011. This well-established title from Thomas Cook Publishing ...
The waterfront of Zemun. The town has a more intimate connection with the Danube than its larger neighbour Belgrade (photo © Laurence Mitchell).
Magazine article

Where empires collide: Zemun, Serbia
  

The Danube has always been a natural geographic barrier in the Balkans, a watery frontier between two cultural worlds: the Habsburg to the north and the Ottoman territories to the south. Laurence Mitchell escorts us on a riverfront walk from ...
Letter from Europe

Train service changes for 2010

  • 12 Dec 2009
The Balkan region gets a new rail service tomorrow, with the launch of a once daily direct train between Belgrade and Sarajevo. It is a mark of how much the mood in the region has improved over recent years that routes severed during the nineties ...
Letter from Europe

Kosovo and international politics

  • 24 Jul 2009
The Kosovo issue rumbles on. Contrary to popular opinion, the question of who has recognised the would-be state and who has not is far from being a simple east versus west divide. True, Britain and the United States both gave a positive nod to ...
Magazine article

Welcome to Novi Pazar
  

Novi Pazar (the New Bazaar) in the hills of southern Serbia turns out to be a town with a difference. Guest contributor Laurence Mitchell explores this Muslim town close to the Kosovo ...
Flocks of lake birds swoop down from their protected dominion, the white cli!s of Golem Grad (photo © Christopher Deliso).
Magazine article

Border zone: around Lake Prespa
  

At the point in the southwest Balkans where Macedonia, Albania and Greece converge lies Lake Prespa. It is an extraordinary place - brackish waters, fill of bulbous weeds that pull at your feet. In the middle of the lake is Golem Grad, an island ...
Magazine article

A hundred years of change: Jovici

Krste Jovic has lived in Jovici (Croatia) for almost a century. Regular hidden europe contributor, Rudolf Abraham, introduces us to Krste's home village. Wars, struggle and strife sear the history of a coastal region now known mainly for its sun, ...
Letter from Europe

Serbian Orthodox Christmas

  • 7 Jan 2009
Bitterly cold temperatures over central and eastern Europe last evening and this morning do nothing to diminish enthusiasm for the celebration of the Orthodox Christmas. While Orthodox Christmas is underway, daily demonstrations in Belgrade dilute ...
Letter from Europe

Tito toponyms

  • 28 Sep 2008
The cult status surrounding Josip Broz Tito, the onetime president of Yugoslavia, shows no sign of diminishing almost thirty years after his death. The capital of Montenegro, Podgorica, was until 1992 called Titograd. And we report from the extreme ...
Letter from Europe

Bosnian bridges

  • 15 Oct 2007
In territories dissected by great ravines, bridges become the very symbols of civilisation. And nowhere more so than in Bosnia. In The Bridge on the Drina, the epic Nobel Prize winning novel by Bosnian writer Ivo Andric, Mehmed Pasha's bridge over ...
Letter from Europe

Designing identity

  • 28 Aug 2007
Albanians have not lost their way with clothes, as anyone walking the streets of Tirana's business district at lunchtime will quickly notice. Forget notions of an obscure Balkan nation, and look more for the same stylish chic that you might see ...
Letter from Europe

Kosovo connections - Transdniestr

  • 20 Mar 2006
Western European observers of the east of our continent have had their eyes trained on Serbia and Belarus this past weekend. The Milosevic funeral in Pozarevac, a small city on the Danube plain seventy kilometres east of Belgrade, became a rallying ...