This is a journey to a part of Europe that few travelers have visited, yet it is an area with a long and eventful history, magnificent cultural monuments and old towns, many of them UNESCO World Heritage sites, a vibrant and flourishing contemporary culture and lifestyle, and stunning scenery. Parts of the former Yugoslavia, now independent countries, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro are a fascinating microcosm of Western and Eastern, European and Ottoman Turkish, Christian and Islamic influences. Their architecture, art, customs and cuisine reflect this rich diversity. Located in the western part of the Balkan peninsula, a strategic position that was throughout history a crossroads between Europe and the East, this territory became the home of Slavic tribes, starting in the 6th century AD. But before and after the arrival of the Slavs, the area was coveted and occupied by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottoman Turks, Venetians, Austrian, German and Hungarian magnates.
Our journey of discovery begins in Belgrade, the bustling and urbane capital of Serbia, known for its vibrant cultural scene, situated at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. During our stay in the city, we will visit its most important historic landmarks, including the formidable Kalemegdan Fortress, one of the largest fortifications in Europe, built on a hilltop facing the rivers. We will also take an excursion to Novi Sad, a city with interesting architecture and a rich cultural heritage.
From Belgrade, we will travel to the Serbian countryside to visit medieval monasteries whose sublime frescoes are among the artistic treasures of the country. Included are the great monasteries of Studenica and Sopocani, both listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. We will then enter the beautiful land of Bosnia-Herzegovina, where we will explore its two most alluring and magnificent cities, Sarajevo and Mostar. After the civil war in the 1990s, when Sarajevo was besieged, the city’s fabled historic center has been restored and is as lively as ever, its stone-paved alleyways lined with artisanal shops and cafes. In Mostar, its iconic landmark, the exquisite single-arch stone Stari Most (Old Bridge), originally built in the mid-16th century across the banks of the Neretva River, and the restaurants that line the river’s banks below the landmark bridge welcome visitors.
Traveling through the lovely wine-producing countryside of Herzegovina, we will arrive in Montenegro. It may be the smallest country of the three in our itinerary in size and population, but Montenegro is big in scenic splendors and charming historic towns. Moreover, the country is blessed with a coast that is among the most beautiful as in the Mediterranean. The focus of our exploration will be the old towns around the incredible Bay of Kotor, where high mountains come down to the sea to form the only fjord-like waterway in southern Europe. Along the bay’s shores maritime towns grew during the Middle Ages that became wealthy and powerful. Kotor’s and Perast’s walls and stone mansions speak loudly of these bygone years.