Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro have long been an important cultural crossroads and coveted prizes in the ebbing and flowing of empires and kingdoms. For millennia, the peoples from all over the Balkans – and further afield – lived, traded and fought in this area. Today, both countries are calm, and remain stunningly beautiful and intriguing as they face the challenges of the 21st century. Once again, their peoples need to reinforce their independence, rebuild economies and sooth the tensions embedded in a very complex history.
This ten- day journey distills the essence of both Kosovo and Montenegro. It will uncover the layers of cultural and natural history that explain their identity as an incredible crossroads of northern and southern as well as western and eastern cultures – from the Greek and Roman eras, early medieval kingdoms and Venetian, Ottoman and Habsburg conquests to the brief, ill-fated Yugoslavia and beyond, to the present day. The two countries have always tottered on one of Europe’s great historical fault lines, where the Catholic West meets Orthodox East and the flow of Islam reaches into so much of the region’s history. The multiculturalism and the complexities will be clarified not only through visits to the magnificent historical sites of incredible variety but also through distinctly regional food, wine, flora and geology as well as conversations with the local people.
The history of Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro is as much about the local peoples as the numerous invaders and occupiers over the centuries each of which has left an indelible imprint. Kosovo’s Serbs and Albanians, in particular, are still trying to resolve issues triggered off by the Slavic migrations in the 6th and 7th centuries. Four centuries of the Ottomans left an Islamic legacy still evident in many mosques, cobbled bazaars and walnut baklava. The Venetians controlled much of the coastal region of Montenegro leaving their mark on the fine Baroque churches and palaces along the Adriatic seaboard and this Mediterranean influence is also evident in the olive groves and vineyards of the beautiful countryside. The Orthodox Faith arrived with the great medieval dynasties of the Serbs who bequeathed a wonderful ecclesiastical heritage of monasteries with beautiful frescoes and glittering iconostases.
Maximum Party Size: 20