Sofia, 'The Grand Boulevard', 1907. By the British writer Harry de Windt.
In his book 'Through Savage Europe', a journey from the Adriatic Sea to the Caucasus, De Windt writes: '...This quaint mixture of the latest European fashions and Oriental costumes are the first things which strike the stranger on arrival in Sofia. But he soon discovers that this is a land of contradictions.
For instance, the man who drove us to our hotel from the station was an essentially modern Bulgar who, as far as dress was concerned, would have walked unnoticed up Regent Street, and who was as loquacious and full of information as a Maltese guide. Indeed he was up-to-date on every subject, from the newest style of motor-car to Mr. Chamberlain's fancy in orchids.
And yet his wiry little pair of ponies were adorned with necklets of blue beads as amulets against the (Turkish) "Evil Eye," any allusion to which was strongly resented by their driver…'
Serbs lived for centuries in Prizren, the capital of their medieval state. Some of their houses occupied the area of Marash, on a hill overlooking the historic town and surrounding the 14th century Church of the Holy Saviour.
In March 2004, nearly five years after the Kosovo war, most Serb cultural monuments in Prizren were damaged, set on fire, or destroyed in one single day. Empty and derelict, the old Serb homes in the Marash area bear silent witness to the acts of vandalism. In 1999 almost ten thousand Serbs were living in Prizren, while today there are just a handful of them.
People in Prizren say that the owners of the Serb houses, now far away, should either come back to repair them, or sell them. The owners feel that no one can force them to sell some of the town's most prestigious properties, nor would they return to an area where they do not feel safe.
What do you think? Do you recognise your old house here?
We would like to hear from you.
Photos summer 2013
© Velislav Radev
A moving document from another era. A German soldier writes back home from occupied Serbia, 1915. Passed by the military censor.
In which Emir Kusturica movie does this Serbian spa feature?!
What else was Banja Koviljača remarkable for during the Cold War?
Prizren. Second largest city of Kosovo. The only trilingual city in the Balkans, with Albanian, Turkish and Serbian/Bosnian spoken. Capital of the medieval Serbian Empire in the 14th Century. Preserved its Ottoman character better than any other city in the Balkans. Natalya Grebenyuk is a Moscow-based photographer. She is a fan of motor-rallies and daunting car journeys. Natalya crossed the Balkans from East to West at the height of the winter 2010: from Kosovo via Montenegro to Albania and Bosnia.
© Natalya Grebenyuk
© Velislav Radev
This report by Mark Urban shows the effect of operation 'Storm' ('Oluja') on the civilian population of the town of Knin. It was a joined operation of the Croatian armed forces with the Bosnian Army.
Broadcast on 8 August 1995, BBC2 / Newsnight
On 5th August 1995 Croatian forces entered Knin. In Croatia 5th August is celebrated as a national holiday, 'Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day', in Serbia it is marked by commemorations to the killed and exiled. Operation 'Storm' led to the displacement of the entire local Serbian population.
The Croatian government estimates that around 90,000 Serb civilians had fled, Serbian sources claimed that there were as many as 250,000 refugees. The UN puts the figure at between 150,000 and 200,000, the BBC at 200,000. Hundreds of Serb civilians were killed - mostly elderly people who stayed on after their families had left.
The Hague War Crimes Tribunal indicted 3 senior Croatian commanders: Colonel General Čermak, Colonel General Markač and General Ante Gotovina. They were said to have had personal and command responsibility for war crimes carried out against Krajina Serb civilians.
Čermak and Markač were handed over to The Hague Tribunal, but Gotovina fled in 2001. He remained on the run for more than 4 years, his whereabouts surrounded by mystery. The issue was a major obstacle for Croatia's application to join the EU. At the end of 2005 Ante Gotovina was captured by Spanish police in a hotel in the Canary Islands and transferred to The Hague.
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Bosnian Serbs celebrate St. George's Day. Mount Romanija, near Sarajevo - May 1991.
In the intoxicating atmosphere of gunfire, nationalist euphoria, Balkan grill in the forest, a prayer and a blessing.
Indicted war-criminals Radovan Karadzic and Vojislav Šešelj with a group of Chetniks. Vojislav Šešelj announces his 'Karlobag-Ogulin-Karlovac-Virovitica' line.
It's a hypothetical boundary often used to describe the western extent of Serbian aspirations. Vojislav Šešelj often claimed that all of the population of these areas are in fact 'ethnic Serbs, of Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Muslim faith.'
Amateur footage, Bosnian Serb collection.