In October 2022, Russian forces held a sham vote on annexing parts of Ukrainian territory to Russia. In response, the Czechs invented a claim to the Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea. Its basis was simple: Kaliningrad, formerly known as Königsberg, was named after the Bohemian king.Read More
Europos Park is a “monument valley” on the outskirts of Vilnius to celebrate the spot being exact center of Europe. But the celebration was a bit hasty, as now one of claimants to the title is 11 km away.
The European aristocracy and artists loved the Czech Spas. The fame of Czech healing waters has gradually spread worldwide. The result is the 2021 inscription of the Czech Spa triangle to UNESCO.
Cepelinai dumplings, the fist-sized Lithuanian delicacies, derive their name from Zeppelins - the long, cylindrical airships of the early 20th century to which they bear a striking resemblance. And like their dirigible counterparts, cepelinai will leave you high... on carbs.
Despite worldwide usage in the past, timber rafting is very rare today. Last year, a group of countries led by Czechia and Poland nominated and safely navigated it to the UNESCO heritage list.
Shopska salad is a bone of contention between a few Central European nations. However, its origins are easily traced to the post-war creation of Bulgaria as a socialist paradise of sun, relaxation, and good food. The red, green, and white salad easily fits the image of traditional Bulgarian cuisine.
The 20th century: a time when everyone wanted to touch the sky, but few were thinking about the dangers. Apart from one whose work was centered around the question of, “How can one survive if things go wrong?”
When frosty winter hits, people tend to stay home and warm themselves up with a nice cuppa… not! Not when they're Polish, anyway. Winter at the end of the carnival was considered by the nobles as the best time to hit each other's pads and party.
The Czech Republic has often been crowned the most atheistic country in Europe, sometimes even the world. Is it so that all Czechs are non-believers, or is it a bit more complicated?
When the Croatian national football team played the final of the World Cup in 2018, the whole world noticed the red and white squares on the Croatian fans and players. These same squares are also found on the Croatian coat of arms and are popularly called a chessboard.
Perched high atop the list of countries with the most literate people in the world are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania... and North Korea. While the first three have some solid proof behind the statistics, the fourth makes the list based on more dubious claims.
Nestled amongst the trees in a park in the center of Budapest, Hungary, the much-anticipated House of Music, designed by famed Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, has finally opened its doors to the public.
Contrary to popular belief, the Airbnb travel model wasn’t invented in the 2000s. Examples of it can be found 60 years earlier with Balkantourist, travel agent in communist Bulgaria.
Przemsza is the name of a Polish river that is nearly impossible for non-Polish speakers to pronounce. Regardless, three Emperors speaking these languages had to know its name, as their countries joined at its junction for decades. Now it's almost forgotten in the middle of modern-day Poland.
The blood-red bohemian garnet is considered the national gem of the Czech Republic. Not only is it good-looking, but legends also say that this beloved stone can replace bad moods with joy.
At the end of January, masked people with countless bells tied around roam the streets in villages across Bulgaria. But despite their scary outfits, locals are not intimidated. These are the Kukeri, and they are here not to scare onlookers but to chase away the evil forces
It is a route that Czech Kings took upon their coronation for centuries. And while there are no kings in Czechia these days, the Royal Road is still a crucial sightseeing trail through Prague.
Everyone knows that Christmas is on 25 December. It's just that we can't agree on exactly when 25 December should be. The same is true for movable feasts, such as Easter. And - say - the anniversary of the October Revolution, which falls in November.
Would you swim in the frozen waters during Romania’s coldest month to fetch a cross thrown by the Priest? Some wouldn’t - but many would. Or so the tradition proved for the past hundreds of years. Learn about Romania’s most astonishing Epiphany traditions.
2022 marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the word “robot,” brought to you by famous Czech science-fiction author Karel Čapek. However, the term, actually coined by his brother, has deep historical ties to centuries of feudal economics.
Some say that the woods in Poland's Masurian Lake District harbor a secret: that an abandoned channel project from the Polish Lake District to the Baltic Sea wasn’t only for an inland trade route - it was to provide access to a secret German WW2 era submarine shipyard.
The clock strikes 12, and we all suddenly find in a new year. New Year's Eve is the one day that unites people of all religions (and time zones) in celebration and has always been connected with many traditions.
Wherever you are flying with Czech Airlines, it will always be OK. Why? Because OK is the Czech Airlines callsign. Let us tell you the story of the fifth-oldest airline in the world.
The Struve Geodetic Arc is a network of triangulation towers spanning Scandinavia to the Black Sea. They made it possible to take the first accurate measurement of a meridian arc.
Those traveling to Europe often think it will be sufficient to bring along some Euro, but this is not always the case. So what currency do you need when you find yourself in the Three Seas States?
On 1 October 1869, the Austrian Post Office issued its first postcard. Today merely a collectible, they were for decades a communication staple, as texting is now.
English-style beer consumption stole some ground from vodka territory when a jokingly named quasi-political movement called the Polish Beer-Lovers Party gained Members of Parliament (MPs) in the early 1990s.
With Christmas approaching, let's look at how it is celebrated in the Czech Republic, where little attention is paid to faith and church. And is Christmas here still a Christian holiday?
Believe it or not, winter in Croatia can get pretty cold. Most households used to have fireplaces, which served as the basis for developing an interesting Christmas tradition.
The date is the 18th of the second month. The year is 7527. And no, there is nothing wrong with your calendar. According to the Ancient Bulgarian Calendar, the year is very accurate, recognized by UNESCO as the most accurate calendar in the world.
It has been said and will never cease to be repeated that Austria – the home of Silent Night, the world's revered Christmas carol – certainly knows how to turn Christmas into a special time of year, spiced up with a short visit by the underworld demons.
Never ones to leave their guests hungry, on one particular day of the year, Latvians load the table with nine foods. Traditionally, this was Yuletide to mark the winter solstice. Today, many celebrate Christmas but still keep up with tradition, too.
Some claim it's a myth, but it's possible that at some point, you could take a sleigh ride from Poland to Sweden and break your journey with a stay at an inn - on ice.
Are you able to survive in water for a few hours at one time? Can you swim (advisable)? Do you like challenges? If your answer to the above question is ‘yes,’ then we have a proposition you won't want to pass up.
Christmas is one of the most celebrated holidays worldwide. In Romania, the Christmas spirit is spread around by the Juni – a group of young men who carol the streets and houses for days in a row.
Prague’s Czechoslavic Ethnographic Exhibition of 1895, the Central European answer to the World Expo (of sorts), was the first time the people of Central Europe noticed the richness of regional folk culture. It immediately started a folk craze.
In most European countries, you grow out of swinging in your early teens. But not in Estonia, where kiiking, or swinging, is a national sport recognized by the Estonian Sports Association.
During Christmas, one melody is sure to unite the world. This carol has been sung for over two hundred years by Christians all over the world. Do you know it? Where does it come from?
Who was the greatest musician ever alive? A celebrity by today's definition – famous, talented, and wealthy? Whose compositions are known to practically every human, even if they have no idea about classical music? There is only one answer – Mozart!
"Mr. Blot's Academy" was a magical school described by Jan Brzechwa six decades before "Harry Potter." In the character of the Professor, some see Janusz Korczak, a pedagogue so dedicated to the Jewish orphans in his care that he went with them all the way to the gas chamber.
World-famous Polish ski jumper, Adam Małysz, was once asked what he did to relax when sitting on the bench, waiting to jump. He answered – "I hum Christmas carols." His answer might have astonished everyone but Poles. Poles smiled and understood.
To: Mum, From: Nicky – is what you may find written on your Christmas present, for example, in the UK or the USA. However, Central Europeans are adamant that the gifts have a more otherwordly origin. So what is it about all this gift-giving tradition?
We seem to take it for granted that Christmas presents are brought by Father Christmas in his sleigh. That's down to C.C. Moore, but what came before and is still practiced in many Three Seas States?
In 1935, the Romanian government banned any visual representation of Mickey Mouse, and the reason behind this drastic measure might make you take a double look at Disney’s most beloved character.
In the middle of the summer, as we are stocking up on that lush, sun-generated heat, it seems safer to think about the growing trend of swimming in icy-cold water in the middle of winter. A sport that unites some of the Baltic countries. Which ones?
You’d have to be pretty out of your mind to rob a bank – let alone during the communist times. But it happened, and the authorities were so shocked that they documented the investigation in a movie, casting in the leading roles the real-life protagonists of the heist.
A national holiday in Romania and a popular customary feast in more countries of Central Europe, the commemoration of St. Andrews Day on November 30 is an occasion to witness ghostly activities and get them to share insights from the future.
Not sure if you want to believe the legend that a fir tree in this exact spot is one of the oldest Christmas traditions in Europe? Heirs to the Brotherhood of the Blackheads can show you historic proof.
The rise of national languages in Central Europe led to the expansion of diacritic letters, unique to a few groups of them. Nowadays, Unicode has given us an easy computational solution. But the fight for diacritic inclusiveness lasted for decades.
Polish citizens, who found themselves under a foreign rule for 123 years, were often forced to leave their native lands in pursuit of opportunities unavailable to them under new rulers. Collectively, they are referred to as Polonia.
At the two opposite ends of Europe, two countries hold the bagpipe in the highest esteem possible. What links Bulgaria and Scotland when it comes to bagpipe music?
The Czech Kingdom of the 15th Century became the birthplace of what we would later know as Protestantism. It was thanks to Hussites, an armed religious group that vowed to reform the Catholic Church.
Certain species of plants and animals tend to raise in importance in different areas of the world. Such is the case with tobacco. Brought to Europe from North America, it found a special place among Kashubians.
Although interwar Poland had unrealized ambitions to become a colonial empire, the truth is that at some point, in fact, it was one. Here’s the surprising history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as a seafaring metropolis.
In 2023, Bulgaria will celebrate three decades of belonging to the global Francophonie family without ever speaking French as an official language. What happened?
With a complicated biography, multiple areas of expertise, and a good number of jobs, Janusz Korczak was an exemplary modern teacher. His book for children entitled “Król Maciuś Pierwszy” (eng.: "His Majesty, King Matt the First") is a 1930s coming-of-age novel with a very modern take.
It took a lot of planning and hard work – and still, from up close, there's not much to see... However, the picture comes into focus as you rise above the horizon. The image of the white eagle, the emblem of Poland, miraculously depicted with trees into the Polish landscape.
When Israel declared its independence in 1948, it was immediately attacked by its neighbors. The desperately needed weapons, planes, and other supplies came from an unlikely source: Czechoslovakia.
Poles and Americans have a lot in common, like respect for national flags and taste in national symbols. For both, the eagle reigns supreme, and while the US favors the bald eagle, Poles are 100% devoted to their white eagle. When did this noble bird steal the Slavic hearts?
The World EXPO is an always an event unlike any other. However, the EXPO of 1958 was particularly special for Czechoslovakia because it won the Golden Medal, despite going through the darkest times of the Communist regime.
The countries of Central Europe still have not shaken off the stigma left on the region by the two forms of totalitarianism that dominated the 20th century: Nazism and Communism.
In the north of the 3 Seas Region, you can find a land adorned in a green gown of forests and crowned with the gold of sandy beaches. With her majesty accentuated by blue jewels of lakes, Lithuania is a mysterious land where the tales of old don’t seem old at all.
Established in 1946, Poland's "Przekrój" was a unique concept for an opinion and lifestyle magazine in a country where opinions were suppressed, and lack of style was due to scarcity.
The Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are throwing the biggest folk festivals in the world. The event is so grand that it takes four years on average to prepare. What is it all about?
For 22 years now, bears, which were used to act in shows across the Balkans, get a new chance for life in a unique bear sanctuary sponsored by French actress, Brigitte Bardot.
A new permanent exhibition in the city of Shumen will soon tell the story of Bulgaria’s first theater performance in 1856. One issue: Another Bulgarian town claims they got there first.
The Sociological Record was a 1960s art project by photographer Zofia Rydet that did precisely what it says on the lid - it captured Polish society in the transformation process. Until her death, Rydet managed to document some 20 thousand Polish households.
There are many types of capitals - like business capital (London, UK), love capital (Paris, France), or food capital (San Sebastian, Spain). Such flashy tags are bound to attract tourists from all over the world. Do conventional capitals stand a chance?
Czechs claiming Russia’s Kaliningrad was a political statement heard around the world. Inspired, Poles reached even further, declaring the annexation of the Siberian city of Irkutsk to protect its Polish minority. How did Poles end up thousands of kilometers from home?
Among the early modern empires of Central Europe, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is perhaps the least known. It was in a state of forming for some two hundred years and remained more than a strategic alliance for another two centuries, shaping the culture and history of more than those two nations.
Throughout millennia, humans have always paid respects to their dead and laid them to rest with elaborate burial styles. Gradually, these were replaced by rituals. Are you sure you know how they developed and what remains of them today?
Over three decades after the fall of communism in 1989, Bulgaria seems to be at a crossroads, with four parliamentary elections in less than two years and forces pulling the country into opposite directions: West and East.
In Halloween costumes, light-hearted witchcraft, and door-to-door trick-or-treating, many conservatives in Central Europe see Satanism, postmodernism, and westernization. But in times past, the spirit of Halloween was summoned even here on Forefather's Eve.
Pop culture warns us of ghosts appearing at midnight. But according to Central European beliefs, demons could possess you even at noon – or at any other time if you find yourself in the wrong places.
People from the Polish town of Ząbkowice Śląskie see their connection with the first proper science fiction novel ever created. And there's a reason for that: until 1945, the city was known by its German name: Frankenstein.
Women in Central Europe have long played an important role in the home and also in public spaces. Centuries of fighting for independence, defending against the Nazis and the communists have meant that women in this part of Europe have emancipated themselves in many fields relatively quickly compared to other parts of the world.
When, 200 years ago, Napoleon sent Polish troops to the Haitian islands, even he – one of the greatest strategists of all time – could not have foreseen what was about to happen.
In 1975, Czechoslovakia and the World experienced something that had never happened before. A church in the city of Most made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. Why? Because it took a train ride.
1848, 1918, 1938, 1948: these are just four recent examples of important years in Czech history ending with number eight. Four out of 40. Should the Czechs get superstitious?
When Otto III, Caesar of the Western Roman Empire, came to the capital of still-forming Poland, could he have hoped to establish a new geopolitical initiative in Eastern Europe?
The Romanian founder of biospeleology did not study sciences – he studied law. But his true calling was too prominent to be ignored, so Emil Racoviță pulled a one-eighty and completely changed not only his life but the world we live in today.
In the case of a church called Vang in southwestern Poland, it is not custom or faith that was imported but the building itself. It is a rare occasion when one construction can write several cities into its itinerary.
That, my friend, is an excellent question. Everyone seems to know where Western Europe is. And everyone seems to be an expert on calling everything else the East. But hey! What happened to the Center?
One look away and oops, she’s gone! Best advice for the groom? To keep his eyes on his bride. The sudden disappearance of the bride is a normal thing during a Romanian wedding reception. And getting her back does not come cheap.
Natural as it is now, the existence of two separate states of Czechia and Slovakia is a rather new thing in the region. Here’s how it happened.
Nowadays, when reading books could be considered a dying pastime, it is refreshing to learn that book-reading is still important enough to rank based on their friendliness toward bookworms. So which cities are the best and which are the worst?
In March 1946, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered a speech declaring the new, post-war division of Europe. His view on the new world order was strict, and a sharp boundary of the Iron Curtain turned out to be one of the most prolific ideas in modern history.
While walking along the banks in Prague, the capital of Czechia, you will encounter the majestic building of the Czech National Theatre. The building was built with contributions from everyday Czechs and… burned down right after its completion.
Every country has its superstitions. Some of them are still popular, while others bring a smile of disbelief that someone could have treated them seriously. And it looks like they are still alive and well in Poland.
Franz Kafka's troubled life made him one of the most successful writers of all time. Unfortunately, not many people know his story, and many don't know that he was Czech.
Spanning from the Netherlands to Baltic Countries, this important trade and geopolitical project had an enormous impact on Europe’s history. Consequently, some seaside cities across Europe are more like each other than to other cities in their respective countries.
Socialist Romania struggled for a position on the map of Eastern tourist destinations for Western visitors. In doing so, it lured tourists with long-legged waitresses and Elena Ceaușescu.
The thousandth anniversary of crowning the first Hungarian king was marked by the World Exhibition in Budapest. And boy, did the city get a glow-up to celebrate this monumental anniversary.
This important religious and administrative capital of the Dacia historical region of Romania was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1999 for its intricate fusion of both military and spiritual concepts. But it holds far greater secrets.
Stephan I, the first Hungarian king crowned in or around the year 1000, was declared a Catholic saint soon after his death and an Orthodox saint a thousand years later.
In 1945, Warsaw had been destroyed to such an extent that the only place which offered conditions for reopening foreign embassies was the centrally-located Hotel Polonia. Looking for France? Room 22, s'il vous plaît.
During Stalinist times, this now-Estonian town evaporated from the map as it turned into a militarized zone and a source of uranium ore for the Soviet nuclear program.
Along with its counterpart in Gdańsk, Poland, this Czech masterpiece of medieval engineering gives you as many details on time and astronomy as the present-day three iPhone widgets.
When German author Karl May wrote his most famous story of Winnetou he must have been thinking of the wild, North American landscapes with their waterfalls and the Rocky Mountains. But why go so far when you can travel to Croatia - where the movies were filmed?
Croatia, now one of Europe’s prime holiday destinations, has long been an actor in the complicated historical drama of the Balkan states. And by no means a boring one! Here’s the story of how your favorite holiday resort came to be.
Lithuanians brag about the mildness of their native language. So in order to keep it clean, they simply use either Russian or English whenever they want to say something particularly naughty.
Zlarin, also called the Golden Island, is a place known for its natural treasure – the unique coral (and sponges. Natural sponges – nothing to do with cakes.) It also must be the least motorized place on the planet. But let’s start at the beginning.
Commonly known as a "Maluch” (Eng: "the little one”), the Fiat 126p was a car that Poles dreamed of for decades. Even though it's been out of production for years, it is still attracting unexpected admirers. Like Tom Hanks (yes - that one).
George of Poděbrady, the king of Bohemia in the 15th Century, came up with a crazy idea. He dreamed of creating an organization to include all European nations. They would hold important meetings on an international level and vote on topics in a parliament-like manner. Crazy right?
The story of the Vltava River is fascinating for just a simple river. It is a source of historical legends, an inspiration for artists, and a stylish free time spot. The Vltava has always been and is still the beating heart of the Czech Republic.
After Polish tennis player Iga Świątek won the US Open, commentators from all around the world struggled to pronounce her name. Here’s how to do it right.
“Yesterday,” “Thriller,” “Happy,” “Poker Face,” “With or Without You”… these are all the hits we know and love, and we heard them so many times. But there is a melody you might have heard and yet have probably no idea what the name is or who recorded it.
There aren’t many things Romanians agree on. But there is one that 20 million people have believed, and continue to believe generation after generation, despite scarce medical evidence. It is called the curent (aka a draft) and it is the reason you can’t have two windows open in the same room - ever.
A ritual of great importance on Latvian family calendars, the Cemetery Festival gathers relatives from near and far. The curious day’s events are less about mourning and more about celebrating life and togetherness.
The debate about the legacy of socialist residential architecture in Bulgaria, and the need for changing it, is ongoing. Should neighborhoods’ names follow suit?
The iconic Palace of Culture and Science is a monumental skyscraper in Warsaw's city center, now considered somewhat controversial due to its Stalinist genesis. Even so, it turns out that Varsovians now have a soft spot for this cultural landmark and do not want to see it demolished.
For decades in the 20th century, Bulgarians and Romanians, two neighboring nations sharing 609 kilometers of border, knew little of each other. Today, 15 years after the two countries became members of the larger European family, things are changing for the better.
Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu built this holy place as a place of worship. Today, it is a UNESCO world heritage site that stands tall not just as a meaningful clerical site but also as Romania’s most emblematic piece of Brancovan architecture.
In one scene of "Return of the Jedi," a protocolar android addresses a person in Polish. Was Jabba the Hut's servant a Socialist economic migrant, or did American producers just want to impress viewers with an exotic language?
They say the language of love is universal, but sometimes, knowing another language helps. A popular story in Bulgaria tells of an American who fell in love with a Bulgarian woman. Alas, the story doesn’t end in “happily ever after” thanks to confused gestures.
The recent archeological discovery of a 17th C. woman’s corpse buried with a sickle around her neck points directly to her being suspected of some undead activity. However, her moniker, the vampiress, isn’t entirely fitting. It’s not that she wasn’t suspected of being undead (she was), but the term “vampire” doesn’t fit her time and place.
The old Slavic custom of celebrating the harvest is still holding on strong in Poland. Dożynki, as it is called, is celebrated nationwide and provides a great way for villages to remind the city dwellers of the richness hidden in the countryside.
The old saying goes, "Stop trying to reinvent the wheel." However, often overlooked in this statement is exactly how many times the wheel has, in fact, been reinvented. The Ljubljana Marshes Wheel found Slovenia is the oldest wheel ever found.
The ancient Thracians, who resided mainly in modern-day Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, left behind a priceless trove of artifacts that are still being unearthed to this day. As the search continues, the question looms: Who will get to them first? Archeologists or treasure hunters?
Taking inspiration from France's Maginot Line, the defensive system of bunkers on the French-German border, Czechoslovakia also tried to fortify its borders with Germany. Despite never being used in action, the bunkers serve various purposes until today.
When World War Two ended in Central Europe and the Iron Curtain, as famously called by Winston Churchill, descended “from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic,” the eastern side of the curtain began filling with monuments of victory. In August 2022, yet another of those monuments fell.
Forget about Paris and London – the Romanian city of Timișoara paved the way for Europe’s transition to electrical street lighting. Discover the story behind the original City of Lights.
Most people assume that AI is a product of our time while, in fact, engineers have been seeking to discover it for centuries. The vision of designing a machine superior to the human mind caught global attention as early as the 18th century.
Far from a centuries-old tradition, cider making in Latvia arose in the 1990s. Since then, the industry has blossomed, and cider makers and pub owners have united to create a local Cider Route - a rival to the wine routes of Western Europe?
People, goods, and mail were moved by air for the first time at the beginning of the 20th century. And the first regular route for long-distance air travel was between European cities in Austria-Hungary.
With a narrative spanning from the famous CIA headquarters in Langley, VA to exotic Thailand, Netflix's latest blockbuster set most of its action in-between the two, right in the heart of Central Europe. And don't worry – thanks to the power of CGI, no actual locations were harmed during filming.
People from Central European countries are more attached to their personal liberty than Westerners. This is one of the consequences of almost 50 years of communism in the region.
With up to 21 hectares of area, Malbork in northern Poland was, by far, the largest gothic stronghold of the Teutonic Order. It was never conquered and only changed sides for political reasons.
The Manuscript Found in Saragossa, a cult novel about Spain, written in French by a Polish aristocrat and an intellectual genius, got transcribed to hypertext, shedding new light on its content.
Invented in the late 1950s, this simple, sturdy aluminum electric cooker didn’t even have power regulation. But it was so handy and ingenious that Russian housewives called it a "miracle oven,” and even today, some Polish cooks can’t imagine life without it.
Over 10 Churches and 10,000 households were demolished in the making of what is today the world's heaviest building – a monstrosity of a palace built to provide a home for Communist Romania’s leader, Nicolae Ceausescu.
In 1818, Joseph Madersperger invented the sewing machine. A few decades later, none other than Karl Marx called it the ultimate tool of the revolution.
For many years Europe has been deeply divided over attitudes to war. Russia's aggression in Ukraine showed that Central European countries were more realistic about the risk of armed conflict.
Seeking answers to personal questions with the help of psychics and fortune-tellers is hardly a novelty. But in Bulgaria, these services continue to be wildly popular three decades after their onset. Why?
Thonet, an almost two-century-old Central European furniture manufacturer, is best known for its No. 14 Chair, which can be seen in the paintings of many French Impressionist café dwellers.
Hungarian, aside from Turkish and Greek, is the only other language in which the word “wine” does not come from the Latin 'vinum'. Instead, ‘bor’ is of Celtic origin. And Celtic culture much predates the Romans, who came to these lands. But what does this actually mean?
Rationalism - the keyword in the creation of Latvian nationhood and statehood. How the modern Latvian nation came into being, and what rational considerations guided its founding fathers.
Thanks to a combination of the Eastern Bloc’s economic structure, effective export deals, and last but not least, great products, Hungarian bus manufacturer Ikarus was able to dominate the Eastern Bloc’s transportation business - and even some of the West’s, too.
Is this real life? Is this a fantasy? In Croatia, former Yugoslavia, you can explore abandoned underground airbases. Some of them, like Željava, even have a history of daring escapes from the war-torn country.
What do a former Secretary of State of the United States, the Special Assistant to several US presidents, and a former Mayor of Chicago have in common: they were all born in Czechia.
In 1977, a vinyl record featuring the Bulgarian folk song "Izlel ye Delyo Haydutin" (Eng: Come out rebel Delyo) began its journey aboard the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecrafts. The song's journey continues to this day.
Perched atop a plateau overlooking the northeast Bulgarian town of Shumen, the aesthetic appeal – and permanence - of The Founders of the Bulgarian State Monument is still up for discussion, 40 years after its unveiling.
A new exhibition in Sofia is taking a closer look at six examples of post-war architecture in Bulgaria, from a kindergarten to a planned neighborhood and an airport, with the hope of providing answers and maybe, a whole new perspective.
To easily navigate through Central Europe, you should know at least a few languages and no fewer than two scripts. The border between Latin and Cyrillic scripts is one of culture and politics.
Although voted never to be activated in the aftermath of the Chornobyl meltdown, Austria’s Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant remains in good condition as a research facility and a unique film set.
In 1984, a small and largely unused chapel in the town of Tryavna in Central Bulgaria was transformed into something somewhat unusual in the times of socialist rule: Bulgaria's first and only Orthodox Icon Museum.
A song composed by the Czech songwriter Jaromír Vejvoda and later enriched with text by Vašek Zeman made it all around the world. In fact, it's so ubiquitous that in just the Three Seas countries, each has its own special name for this simple Czech folk song.
Who invented music? This integral part of humanity, without which we can’t imagine our lives, has been a part of us for what seems forever. And yet, there must have been a time of silence before those first notes.
Most countries across Europe, especially those of Central Europe, have a strain of DNA in common. They all were once influenced by the Habsburgs, a dynasty that for centuries ruled in different parts of Europe.
The festival was also the birthplace of punk rock under communism, despite the fact that it was considered a safety mechanism to prevent a youth-led revolution against socialist power.
Dracula's Transylvanian castle is huge enough to be a symbol of vampire menace. While it may appear to be a castle made from pure fantasy, it is, indeed, quite real. But it's actually in Slovakia.
In 2019 right after the Polish parliamentary election, the Parliamentary Committee for Women's Rights took up a cause particular to Poland. One against the tradition of greeting women by kissing their hands.
Founding father of Slovakia, L'udovit Štúr, was a national activist, linguist, codifier of the Slovak language, and undisputed national hero. His contribution was crucial to the formation of the Slovak nation.
Bat? Check. Ball? Check. Teams? Also, check. We just described baseball – or did we? What is Oina, Romania's national sport? And is it the precursor of American baseball?
St. Anne’s Mountain in Poland was a part of the German territory when the Nazis decided to commemorate the Battle of Annaberg with a mausoleum, theater, and a monument park. After the war, it changed allegiances and now honors members of the uprising.
At first sight, Pliska, a town in northeastern Bulgaria with a population of just over 1,000, is exactly what you’d expect from a small town, with its main street housing a few administrative buildings and a coffee shop. And yet, it is not a town like any other. Welcome to Bulgaria’s first capital.
The discovery of the 17,000-year-old Venus of Piatra Neamț figurine in North-Eastern Romania in 2019 was supposed to be an archeological miracle. However, some eagle-eyed journalists discovered that certain puzzle pieces do not fit into the story.
In 1387, Lithuania became the last European nation to convert to Christianity. However, Romuva, the old, native Lithuanian religion, did not die out. In fact, it’s in the middle of a resurgence, with the number of followers doubling in recent years.
Medieval Polish historian Jan Długosz once claimed that trees in the Roztocze Forest turned to stone just a few years after death. The reality is just a bit more complicated.
Who knows if it's the diet or just something in the air, but three out of the five countries that produce the most female models per capita are in the Baltic region: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
The Pionier 1907 Cinema may not be the most modern and state-of-the-art movie theater in the world, but its name is no accident. Though it recently lost its title as oldest running cinema in the world, it is still in a close second, with a title made official on a Guinness Record certificate.
The fragile situation created by a Christian kingdom vs a Christian knightly order pressured medieval Polish lawyers to expand on an ancient Roman idea.
The revolution against the Soviets took different and unique forms in each country in the Eastern Bloc. In Estonia - it took the form of choirs.
Russia has repeatedly either "invited" Poland to take part in partitioning Ukraine or accused Poland of plans to do so. The Curzon Line, drawn a hundred years ago, helps to understand the distinction amid the current military buildup.
First, the good news. According to a new study by the Trust for Social Achievement and Alpha Research, the number of Bulgarian Romani with a university degree increased six-fold from 2011 to 2019. Now, the not-so-fast moment: that translates to only 1.2% of Bulgarian Romani.
A 200 kg stone with curious inscriptions found in Canada's Nova Scotia has scientists and historians wondering if perhaps this stone bears proof that a Hungarian set foot on North American soil centuries before Christopher Columbus.
When thinking about the oldest universities in Europe, the first that come to mind are probably Oxford or the Sorbonne. That would be a good guess, as those are indeed among the ten oldest universities in the world, most of which were founded in the 13th century or earlier.
Hungarian company Tresorit grabbed the world's attention in 2013 when it offered hackers a $50,000 prize to the person who could break the layers of defenses protecting their startup. After a year and a half, nobody had cracked the new end-to-end encryption service.
The Estonian city home to the University of Tartu has had multiple names and belonged to numerous countries. Despite the constant change, the university has managed to turn its varied heritage into a positive, now known internationally for its high level of education and openness to forward-thinking academic pursuits.
After joining the Réseau Art Nouveau Network in 2012, Oradea, Romania, received the title of Best Art Nouveau Destination within just ten years. How did it achieve this? And more importantly, why is everyone falling in love with this small city on the river?
The A.S. Bytom Funeral Home found a thousand ways to ridicule the fear of death. It’s among the most prevalent Polish memes on the internet, and thousands perhaps still believe (or hope) it exists.
On one day in 1989, two million people formed Baltic Way: the longest human chain in history. It connected three capitals and represented unity and freedom.
One of the largest and most elaborate murals from Communist Europe consists of three million porcelain pieces and makes a huge impression. In fact, it had such an impact upon its unveiling that its creator was forced to flee Romania.
Yes, there is a way to measure it - many, actually, depending on who is doing the assessment. For many years now, whenever standards of living are measured, Vienna has managed to snag one of the top spots.
George Enescu first played the violin at the tender age of four, was admitted to the Vienna Conservatory at the age of 7, and by age 10 had played a private concert at the Court of Vienna for Emperor Franz Joseph himself. The meteoric rise of Romania's national treasure knew no bounds.
Although his colleagues, such as Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe, are more remembered today, Šibenik-born Fausto Veranzio can be credited with many inventions, including the suspension bridge, parachute, and wind turbine - all in the 17th Century.
In 1937 Walter Zapp developed the Minox subminiature camera, a boon to real-life 007s across the world. His invention opened up the possibility of quickly and covertly smuggling countless thousands of pages of secret materials out from behind enemy lines.
From New York to London to the Middle East, these are all fascinating film locations that can make for a great Hollywood film. But what if I told you that some of Hollywood's most memorable films were actually shot in Bulgaria?
Romanian motifs and symbols are recognizable around the world. The traditional outfits, bright and intricately embellished, are even inspiring big fashion houses like Yves Saint Laurent and Dior.
Norbert Wiener revolutionized the world in 1948 when he introduced the concept of cybernetics. However, a Romanian scientist had done precisely the same ten years earlier.
You may have heard of the somewhat controversial and much-disputed art movement called Dadaism. But do you know what it is? What does “Dada” mean, and what does Romania have to do with it?
As you take in the extraordinary sights of the country, especially the city of Dubrovnik, it's easy to see why film crews from massive productions like "Star Wars" and "Game of Thrones" have chosen to shoot some of their most most meaningful scenes here.
On a May day some 250 years ago, Poland declared its first-ever constitution. Along with the communist-propagated Labor Day, also in May, the celebrations for two long and storied traditions give just the right excuse for majówka - extended spring celebrations.
Today’s race for the tallest building in the world is usually a competition between the United Arab Emirates and China. However, a few short centuries ago, St. Olaf’s Church in Tallinn held the title. (At least, maybe it did.)
The question was popped, and the answer is yes. Now what? For many Bulgarian brides-to-be, this question has an easy answer, at least when it comes to finding a bridal gown. It involves a road trip to Asenovgrad, a town in the south of Bulgaria.
Hide the dry-clean only outfits for the day! Śmigus-dyngus is the age-old, day-after-Easter Polish tradition where splashing cold water on friends, loved ones, or even complete strangers is common practice.
Perhaps nothing illustrates the diversity of Central Europe better than the richness of its languages. The perfect example is the way the region's countries approach naming the Easter holiday. The diversity is quite telling.
Doftana Prison, located in Prahova county at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, was notorious in the early 20th century for its harsh confinement of political prisoners, and ultimately became a veritable breeding ground for future leaders of a Red Romania.
When it comes to Easter traditions that might get lost in translation, Czechia and Slovakia have a solid example. In many villages throughout both countries, it is an Easter Monday custom for boys to spank girls with braided whips. Women can even return the "favor" with presents.
It is well known that any traditional Romanian family usually has eggs on its Easter table. However, some take this tradition to the next level, adorning them with an unexpected accessory.
The impeccable style of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, has been well-documented. But a closer look behind the scenes at Eponine London, one of the high-end brands favored by the Duchess, unexpectedly takes us to a sleepy Bulgarian town of 12,000 people.
On a Saturday in January, over 40,000 spectators crowded into the streets of Kaunas, despite the freezing temperatures, to take part in a music, video, dance, and light-filled kick-off celebration of the city’s year as a European Capital of Culture 2022.
A small pyramid in northeastern Poland holds the final resting place for several members of a wealthy family. But to some it's a places as mysterious and mystical as the pyramids of Egypt.
You’ve probably seen or heard the name “Czechia” used instead of “Czech Republic” and may have wondered what the deal was - which name is right? It’s an easy answer: both. Depending on the situation, of course.
Europe is not called “the old continent” by chance. Civilizations here have spawned for millennia. But three cities in Bulgaria are competing to be Europe’s oldest city.
One of Estonia’s most famous scientists is the founder of embryology, Karl Ernst von Baer. Each year, Estonian students honor his life and achievements by giving his monument in Tartu Park a bubble bath to remember - with champagne and beer.
Have you heard of body shots? It’s a thing mostly at college parties where the exposed stomach of a partygoer substitutes as the vessel for a shot of alcohol. The same kind of thing happened in medieval Bulgaria, but with a much more macabre twist.
In a small town in eastern Slovakia, an underground spring shoots a 15-meter-tall column of water every day and a half. This is the only place in Europe outside of Iceland where you can see such a marvel.
In Lithuania's capital, pedestrian crossing lights recently got a makeover as part of the celebration to commemorate 100 years of women’s right to vote in the country. Lights featuring figures wearing skirts now dot the intersections of a bustling Vilnius neighborhood.