Traveling to Belgrade, Serbia

Not one to deny its tumultuous past, the Serbian capital of Belgrade is putting its troubled decades behind it and emerging as one of the most up-and-coming cities in Europe. Situated at the joining of the Danube and Sava rivers, Belgrade has a history dating back nearly two and a half thousand years. Long the epicentre of Serbian culture and power, Belgraders will be the first to acknowledge that the twentieth century wasn’t overly friendly to the city. From the communist regimes in the years that Belgrade served as the capital of Yugoslavia to the now-infamous presidency of Slobodan Milošević, Belgrade Serbia Belgrade is certainly no stranger to adversity. However, with the 21st century came a new era of freedom and prosperity for Belgrade and Serbia as a whole, and the tribulations of the past have only served to strengthen the character and uniqueness of both the city and her citizens, and today Belgrade enjoys the status of being one of the premier economic and cultural centers of south-eastern Europe, and a travel destination not to be missed.

The city population of Belgrade is over 1.5 million people, making the city a bustling metropolis. Sightseeing opportunities abound all across the relatively compact city center of Belgrade, making it easy and convenient to walk nearly anywhere you need to go. Republic Square is located directly in the middle of the city, making it a natural starting point for your Belgrade expedition. You will notice an interesting blend of architecture throughout the area, with ornate buildings dating back many centuries at odds with the Soviet-esque, brutal block-style buildings that are the legacy of rule during the twentieth century. Belgrade is a city of grand squares, and indeed many of these are in and of themselves an attraction. Should you need to venture out of walking distance, the area also features a popular tram system. Navigating the city is also easier than it may first appear to be, and English is commonly spoken throughout the city, especially by younger Belgraders.

<The most important ancient monuments in the city can be found on the grounds of Belgrade Fortress. While there has been a fortress in one form or another on the grounds since the third century BC, the site we see today was originally constructed by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in 535 A.D., the fortress is located in the center of Belgrade in a beautiful, expansive park located directly at the confluence of the Saka and Danube rivers. The most well-preserved section of the fortress is called the Kalemegdan Citadel, and is the focal point of the grounds. For many centuries, the whole of Belgrade existed within the walls of the citadel, and it remains a major landmark for the city to this day. Continuing the rich historical offerings of the city are the Serbian National Museum, which houses hundreds of thousands of works of art from both Serbian and Western European artists including Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso. However, if you’re after something more local, the Historical Museum of Serbia, located next door to the country’s National Assembly, has the world’s most expansive collection of Serbian art and historical artifacts dating back more than two thousand years. If that isn’t enough, travel to Belgrade would not be complete without a trip to St Sava Church, the largest Eastern Orthodox church in the entire world.

Belgrade also features some of the tastiest food in south east Europe. Carnivores can rejoice in the ubiquitous Burek, which are pastries that include anything from meat and cheese to vegetables and fruits. Also not to be missed is ćevapi, which are packages of minced meat which are grilled street-side and spiced to taste. Belgraders also have a love of good beer and wine, and travellers will be very pleased with the price of delicious, Serbian-brewed lagers available all across the city. When at a pub in Belgrade, it is quite common and accepted to look your companions in the eye as you clink your glasses and let out an enthusiastic “Živeli!” (Cheers). Belgrade also has a booming and historic cafe St Sava Church Serbiaculture, which is most evident in the quaint and remarkably picturesque Bohemian quarter of Skadarlija, whose cafe and artist-lined streets have often been compared to similar districts in Paris and Prague. The entire neighbourhood is pedestrianized as well, only adding to the timeless quality of the winding, cobblestone streets.

It is often said that the hottest fire forges the strongest steel. In no place is this more apparent than Belgrade. The character and uniqueness of the city, combined with the warmth and welcoming of Serbian hospitality despite decades of adversity, make Belgrade a truly one-of-a-kind destination. In addition to the plentiful and memorable attractions, Belgrade remains a very budget-friendly destination, making it ideal for the young traveller. In Belgrade you find an irrepressible spirit, as evidenced by the numerous music festivals and art exhibitions you’ll find scattered about the city throughout the year. The city is continuing to go about the exciting and invigorating process of re-discovering and re-defining its identity, not shackled to the past, but rather looking forward to the bright future. As a traveller in this day and age, it is truly a unique opportunity to visit this captivating city and be able to witness this re-birth first hand.

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What are the 10 oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe?

Here at MapofEurope.com love educating our users and one of our favorite topics is history. In this Brand new education category we will endeavor to make learning as fun as possible. Without further adieu here is a inaugural educational article.

The Ten Oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe are :

 

1) Athens:

map of ancients monuments Athens

map of the ancient monuments in AthensThe Greeks feature quite heavily in this list of ancient towns, no wonder they are considered the cradle of civilization. Athens begins its recorded history at around 1400 BC and was continuously inhabited since approximately 11,000 BC.  The Mycenaean culture dominated Athens from about 1900 BC to about 1100 BC. The other big cultural movement and probably the one that had the greatest lasting affect on the history of Europe was the Hellenistic era. It lasted from about 325 BC to the foundation of the Roman republic in 146 BC.

2) Argos:

map of ancient monuments Argos

map of the ancient monuments of ArgosAnother Greek city that has stood the test of time. Argos is second only to Athens age.  Neolithic remains where found there dating back to 7000 BC. However continuous habitation probably begun around 5000 BC, the same as Athens. The king of Argos (Diomedes) featured heavily in the Homeric epic of the “Trojan War”.

3) Plovdiv : The earliest evidence of habitation for Plovdiv dates back to 6000 BC. Originally a Thracian city in modern day Bulgaria. It has been continually settled since approximately 4000 BC. After the Thracian empire faltered, it was governed by the Greeks and then Romans right almost up until the dark ages. other later empires have ruled Plovdiv including The Byzantines, Bulgarians, Ottmans and Russians.

4) Kutaisi : Originally known as Aia and was the capital city of Colchis empire which is in modern day Georgia. In Greek mythology it is believed that Jason and the Argonauts found the golden fleece here or in the nearby region.  So it’s origins, date back possibly to  3000 BC and it is known to have been continuously inhabited since 2000 BC.

5) Chania : Once again we have a city in Greece. However this one is on the island of Crete. Crete is an  archaeological and historical honey hole. Founded by the Minoans it has been continuously inhabited since 1400 BCThe ancient Roman theatre at Plovdiv

6) Larnaca : Yet another city founded by the Mycenaeans. Currently Larnaca is third largest city on Cyprus and is situated to South east on a map of Cyprus. Later on it became a Phoenician colony and has been continuously settled since 1400 BC.

7) Thebes : Often this city is confused with the Egyptian city of Thebes  which was established around 3500 BC and is much older than the Greek city of Thebes (Thiva in Greek)  which has been continuously inhabited since approximately 1400 BC. It was originally inhabited by the Mycenaeans, the race of people who first spread the Ancient Greece.

8) Trikala : Another Mycenaean colony founded in region of Thessaly in central Ancient Greece. It was established next to the primary water course, the River Litheon. Whilst records show it was only continuously inhabited since about 1200 BC. The surrounding regions have evidence of neolithic habitation dating back to 49,000 BC and other settlements in the region date back to 6000 BC.

9) Chalcis : This town is mentioned by Homer as one of the towns that the Aetolians who were led by Thoas inhabited. Another Greek city that is situated to the South East of the Greek mainland. The town started approximately 1200 BC and carries on to this day.

10) Lisbon : The capital of Portugal to this day and was founded at around 1200 BC and has had a population that has maintained a level above 100,000 people since 900 AD. The land in and around Lisbon are littered with neolithic funerary monuments, megaliths, dolmens and menhirs. So there is evidence of habotation going back to at least the neolithic period, sometimes also known as the pre-celtic period.

We hope you have enjoyed the first of our series of education articles. If you have any suggestions or recommendations for future articles please contact us through our contact page here.

Santorini, Greece the Aegean wonder

Santorini GreeceLocated in the South Aegean Sea, the island of Santorini, Greece, is the result of a gigantic volcanic eruption that left a giant caldera at its edge when the land collapsed. This huge lagoon, surrounded on three sides by thousand foot high cliffs, is over thirteen hundred feet deep. Atop the cliffs sits Santorini’s capital city, Fira, filled with charming white-washed cottages along narrow streets lined with jewelry, souvenir shops and cafes. The deep caldera can accommodate all but the largest ships, which can anchor just about anywhere in it, with the principal port being Athinias. Santorini is the largest island in the small Santorini archipelago, which is made up of inhabited Santorini and Therasia and uninhabited Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi and Christiana. Santorini, Greece, also known as Thera, and Therasia, were once part of the same island. They became separated by one of the largest catastrophic volcanic eruptions on Earth that occurred in the middle of the Second Millenium, in the Late Bronze Age.

The eruption destroyed Santorini and settlements on the nearby islands. It has been said that Plato wrote about the legendary island of Atlantis because he was inspired by that volcanic event on Thera. The volcanic explosion left a layer of ash, volcanic cinders and volcanic blocks or rock fragments two hundred feet thick on the island. The delineation of this white layer and the soil can be clearly seen today. Deposits of pumice from the eruption were found in sea beds and lakes as far away as Turkey. The eruption is said to have caused climate change in the area of the Mediterranean, the Aegean and even in the Northern Hemisphere. Evidence in studies of tree-ring dating, the dating science based on an analysis of tree ring patterns, shows that this climatic event depressed growth of Ireland’s European oak trees and Sweden’s Scotch pine trees. Crops failed in China due to a volcanic winter that is said to have been was caused by the eruption.

Today Santorini, Greece is a popular international tourist destination, mostly due to its charm and the beauty of its legendary sunsets and magnificent landscapes. Last year it was chosen by both the BBC and “Travel & Leisure Magazine” as the top island in the world. The summer months are most popular for visitors to the island. Spectacular sunsets can be viewed in the Oia Village at the island’s northern tip, which has an interrupted view. The island also has unique and fantastic beaches with a variety of colors of beach pebbles. The color depends on the solidified lava that is found on the beach, with red, black or white beaches. Most visitors consider Perissa Beach the best on the island. It is shielded by cliffs and very long with dark sand. The darker colored beaches have warmer waters due to the heat absorption process. The next most preferred beach is the one in Kamari, which is the black pebble beach. Above Kamari is Thera’s ancient city which is open from 10 am to 2:30 pm each day but Monday.

There are many villages on Santorini, Greece. Some have imposing old homes, or remnants of a Venetian castle, and there are several Byzantine churches on the island. The churches have bright blue domes and several of the villages spill picturesquely down the cliffs toward the caldera. Fira has a great many shops, tavernas and hotels. It is overlooking the port where most of the cruise ships anchor. Visitors can take a cable car up the cliffs, or go by mule up the almost six hundred steps. It is worth the trip, as it one of the most stunning villages on the island. Here you will also be able to visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, which displays artifacts found in the ruins. In the south of the island is Akrotiri, a thirty-five hundred year old Minoan town preserved in ash similar to Pompeii. It has well preserved streets, buildings and stairways. Wine-making is still an occupation on Santorini, Greece, so make a visit to one of the wineries for a taste of the local wines.

Santorini has many types of accommodations on the island for those who want to stay over. There are varieties of hotels, villas, rooms and apartments for all budgets. Santorini, Greece can be visited by plane, boat or water. Most cruises to the islands of Greece include a stop at Santorini, docking at the port below the ancient Thera. There is a major airport on the island which is only about three miles from the downtown area. Olympic Air, Aegean Airlines and Athens Airways all service the island, along with several charter flights. Ferry boats arrive daily from Naxos, Paros, and Piraeus, and fast catamarans arrive daily from Ios, Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, Folegandros, Sifnos, Iraklio and Piraeus. If you are visiting Santorini, Greece for just one day, do try to get there before sunset so you can make sure to see that fantastic sight. Some boats arrive at night, and you will not realize that you are entering a remarkable harbor that was once the crater of an enormous volcano. Come visit and see these splendors for yourself.