Historically speaking, the Iberian Peninsula has been the rudder to Europe’s leviathan. In fact, the tiny country of Portugal ruled the first global empire in history, with colonies stretching as far east as today’s China and as far west as Brazil. The Spanish Empire grew to gain an even broader reach—from today’s California in the west to Indonesia in the east—and has left a cultural and linguistic legacy unrivaled by any other country. How did these two nations expand their reach to the farthest reaches of the earth? One word: Spice.
In Albania, hearts swell with national pride at the mere mention of his name. Born George Castriot into a noble family, the man who would famously go down in history as Skanderbeg led an anti-Ottoman rebellion that planted the seeds of cultural identity for Albania and Macedonia.
In the 1870s, when King Carol I of Romania traveled outside Sinaia and saw the rolling and rugged hills of the magnificent Carpathian Mountains, he knew this was the place to build his castle. His Majesty certainly had a good eye for settings; his remarkable home is nestled quietly on a gentle slope, yet it also strikes a commanding pose, seeming to lord over the sweeping cradle in which it is swaddled.
With its secluded location north of Greece, east of Albania, and west of Bulgaria, Macedonia boasts a rich and enduring culture that has been shaped and, yes, sometimes tested, by its geography and its history.
Dramatic mountains, centuries-old monasteries, astonishing stonework architecture, and ancient vineyards may sound like the dreamy ingredients of a European country long on your bucket list. But point your compass eastward, past the minarets of Turkey […]
An Armenian folktale goes like this: The invading army of Timur of the Timurid Dynasty appeared on the horizon close to the Noratus Cemetery near Lake Sevan. Upon seeing the oncoming troops, villagers set to […]
Cathedrals are perched on hillsides like crowns. Brick bathhouses shaped like domes invite you to take in their sulfuric waters and a spa treatment or two. A vibrant arts scene and café culture blow away […]
The cultural heritage of Armenia and Georgia reaches back to ancient times. Perhaps because of their proximity to the Holy Land, they were the earliest countries to embrace Christianity as the official religion, in the […]