History has its way of creeping into the present as it is fused with certain images, sounds, gestures, or customs. For locals, they’re quite obvious (or culturally embedded), but they may not be as clear to those visiting.Read More
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.
Of course, we are not talking about state capitals, but, on this occasion, the European Capitals of Culture. With a nearly 40-year-long tradition, the initiative promotes the best and most revered cultural treasures across the EU. Where should you go this year?
One of the most famous Hollywood directors and a vocal admirer of the art of the cinema is openly in love with the Polish film school of the 1960s and 1970s.
The 11th of November is a day of remembrance virtually within all European countries scarred by the First World War. How exactly did this day shape Europe as we know it?
Back when personal computing was just a few thousand white pixels against an emerald background, young Polish early adopters had an oasis of modernity in the midst of a technically neglected industry.
One of the most contested Guinness records, "Largest human image of a country/continent," has been held by Romania since 2018 when, on the occasion of the country's centenary, more than 4000 people joined hands in framing the shape of their homeland.
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?
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.
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.
In Slovenia, the Reformation was more than just a religious change. It started a revolution in Slovenian culture, leading to the creation of its written language, complete with influential and impactful literature. It even established the nation's fundaments, including its name.
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.
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.
Czechia has recently experienced a crisis of trust. Citizens do not trust their politicians and public representatives. Is the situation as dire as it seems, and is there a possibility of addressing it?
There is no other city in Lithuania where social, political, and cultural trends are reflected in architecture to such an extent. The history of the past few centuries becomes crystal clear in Kaunas as the city gained its modern form only recently.
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.
A new adaptation of a classic Polish-novel-turned-cult-film was just announced by Netflix, sending the Internet into a frenzy. While younger generations seem open, fans of the original film are up in arms over the remake of a beloved masterpiece.
After World War Two, all the German culture was forced out of Wrocław, and Polish culture swept in. This included the residents switching out the most important monument in the main square.
For Romania, one of the Great War's most significant losses was its extensive treasure of over 120 tons of gold and numerous other valuables, all sent to Russia under the guise of "safekeeping." A century later, it still hasn't been returned.
Pilsen was the only major Czech city liberated by the American army during World War II. How did this happen, why did the Americans not go further, and how do Pilseners still celebrate this fact today?
Would any country ever give up part of its territory to ensure its continued prosperity? In the 17th century, the Republic of Dubrovnik did just that. How did the Neum Corridor divide today's Croatia and become a cheap tourist oasis?
The annual International Peace Marathon in Košice, known as Košice Marathon, is the oldest in Europe and the fourth oldest in the world. In what began as a race with eight runners, today, this marathon series attracts over 10 thousand participants each year, with roughly 1500 running in the main event.
The Istria region is divided between three countries - Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy. It was always a bit of "someone else's" - the tug of war took decades. And the scars are still visible.
It was the dream of socialism without censorship and political prisoners. It was the dream of a society motivated by the future, not fear. It was a dream that was killed by an invasion in 1968.
Hungarian painter Róbert Berény's "Sleeping Lady with Black Vase", was considered missing for almost a century. That is, until an art historian found it... in a scene from a popular family movie.
While still a practical mobility aid for seniors and hikers, the generously patterned and colorful wooden walking stick has also become a symbol of the Latvian town of Sigulda. It is a much-loved souvenir item, and you can even make your own version.
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Warsaw in the Summer of 1955 for the 5th World Festival of Youth and Students – a Socialist peace initiative that vastly influenced the city, art in the Eastern Bloc, and the youth culture of Central Europe.
After living together for 69 years, a divorce came. Czechs and Slovaks shared many ups and downs throughout modern history, and the split surprised many. But was it really a surprise?
Located at the opposite ends of the three seas region, Bulgaria and Poland are connected in myriad ways. But with new countries competing for attention, are traditional cultural ties still going strong?
What would you do if you found a wallet full of money? Would you give it away or keep it for yourself? Researchers analyzed this dilemma and came up with the fairest societies.
Most countries worldwide have declared national animals, with eagles and lions favored by many. Although Croatia has not explicitly declared a national animal, most Croatians (and a Google search) will tell you it's the pine marten. What is so special about this beloved creature?
It is not unusual to see a rescue car driving through Prague. Ambulances operate all over the world. But did you know Prague's ambulance service is the oldest in Europe?
A new Netflix original movie makes yet another attempt at screen adaptation of one of the most known Polish youth adventure fiction series. Its popularity in the country is undeniable, but the backstory may be even more interesting.
A good piece of advice – never anger a Pole. Better yet – never anger a Pole by attacking his loved ones. Regardless of how important you may be, chances are you risk one going, "[Polish] Medieval on your ass."
The latest "Mission: Impossible" caused a huge stir in Poland before filming even started, thanks to plans to blow up a historic railway bridge. Now that the controversy has faded, there is still buzz - thanks to the visible role of Polish actor Marcin Dorociński.
This is how one could summarize the teachings of the physical education association, which became one of the most influential Czech organizations through physical education and patriotism.
Two decades ago, a Czech documentary film hit the headlines when it presented the opening campaign for a new hypermarket when the country was on the brink of joining the European Union. The documentary has become one of the most important recent productions in Czech cinematography.
Anyone who grew up in the early 2000s knows "Gladiator" by Ridley Scott. Yet another Hollywood movie that came out only a year later also tapped into the sword-and-sandals success of its Golden Globe-winning predecessor - but with a Central European twist.
This breed of dog, native to the historical region of Bukovina, is not only man’s best friend but sheep’s as well. But don’t let its friendly appearance fool you! It is sure to risk its life to protect you, your family, and everything in your pen.
Known for its intellectual properties and unanimously referred to as a mind game, chess is a board game that stimulates mental and psychological development. Which is precisely why in Romania, it is an official curriculum subject that you can study in school.
We are all familiar with the shows prepared by the US soldiers serving abroad, especially during the Vietnam War that are so popularized in mass culture But did you know Poles also took theatre to war?
The answer is – probably not. Franz Liszt was more than just a brilliant piano virtuoso and gifted composer. He became what we would call a pop icon in his lifetime. But was he as flamboyant as Mozart, and did he really build his name on plagiarism?
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.
If you know that Czechia is a landlocked country, the title of this article probably gave you pause. But it has indeed won every naval battle it has ever fought—all (one) of them.
When the world's largest, most diverse underground mining complex was set to become Europe's biggest open-pit mine, the people had a word to say against it. How much are Romanians willing to fight to protect Roșia Montană?
Used today as the official script of their national languages by some 250 million people around the world, Cyrillic script is particularly celebrated in Bulgaria - and for good reason.
What led to the collapse of the Soviet Union? There are many possible answers – rock and jeans, the Pope, Americans, hippies, Gorbachev, and nationalism. But what first comes to the minds of those who lived through these times are two terms – perestroika and glasnost.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was one of the largest states in 17th-century Europe. But despite being a confederation, it is most widely regarded as a primarily Polish entity. So just how important was the role of Lithuania in the union?
In Balgari, a small village in Bulgaria’s Strandzha Mountains, the air is thick with anticipation. Embers are spread around in a large circle. High above the circle sit icons of the two saints, Constantine and Helena, who are being honored today. The fire dance is about to begin.
"School by Play" is one of the most famous thoughts of the Czech philosopher and pedagogue nicknamed The Teacher of Nations. Although Jan Ámos Komenský was Czech, he influenced the whole of Europe.
When Czechoslovakia came to be in 1918, a large part of its army was left in Soviet Russia. The Soviets didn't want to let Legionnaires back home, so they fought their way through. Very successfully!
"Vienna for lunch, Venice for dinner... and Dubrovnik for breakfast," contemplate Mr. and Mrs. Connor Roy in the recent episode of "Succession" about a possible stay in Slovenia. However, once they see what the country has to offer, we think they'll want to stay closer to their Ljubljana base for their three square meals.
Every year, the inhabitants of Vlčnov pick a young boy who will become the King for that year. And like any other King, he must ride through the town with his knights. Vlčnov Kings has done so for the last 200 years, and there are no signs of stopping.
Lithuania is one of the few European countries where football does not reign supreme. There are many reasons for this, but the most important is that basketball here has always been closely related to its historical ups and downs.
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.
On May 24, Bulgaria is set to celebrate its biggest national holiday dedicated to the saints of the Bulgarian alphabet, education, culture, and of the Slavonic literature. We asked five Bulgarians working with words on an everyday basis to give us their favorite distinctively Bulgarian words.
The hot dispute about a gas connection from Russia to Germany took an unexpected turn during the 2008 Architecture Biennale in Venice when Estonians made a simple installation instead of their national pavilion.
Vilhelms Purvītis laid the foundations for Latvian landscape painting. His emotive works capture the fragile beauty of nature throughout the seasons in unrivaled detail. Still today, he is a revered cultural figure.
This may come as a surprise, but Bulgaria was once a computer superpower. Well, at least behind the Iron Curtain. It was all thanks to the genius of Ivan Marangozov, a flute player turned computer engineer credited with the creation of Pravetz, Bulgaria’s first computer.
With the advent of modern science, there also came modern detectives. One of the first was Juan Vučetić, born in Hvar, Croatia, who pioneered dactyloscopy and was the first person in history to identify a killer based on a bloody fingerprint.
For centuries, generations of Bulgarians have resorted to a trove of proverbs and saying with clear negative undertones. Why is their pessimism still around?
Not technically a mountain, but a hill in central Poland is a souvenir after the Christianization of the country. It is symbolized even in the hill's coexisting two names: Witch Mountain and Holy Cross.
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.
The history of Central Europe is one that weaves together stories of countries and peoples, present and past, drawn to these lands. Among them, Czechia has its own. Ready to hear it?
In a somewhat strange custom, Polish movies are interpreted by a single voiceover speaker instead of the more typical dubbing. The most famous lectors have become omnipresent celebrities, even announcing subway stations and giving directions in Google Maps.
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.
In the 13th century, Lake Peipus in Eastern Estonia was a site of a major battle between the Livonian Order and the Republic of Novgorod. It was a medieval show on ice, as the action happened on a frozen lake.
The dunes, the heat, and the desert lifestyle is not something we necessarily connect with Poland. Let alone Polish people living at the turn of the 18th century. Yet Polish history has a mark left on it by its own personal, real-life Emir!
The Medieval Wieliczka Salt Mine in southern Poland has many wonders. If a one-day visit is not enough for you, feel free to go on and just spend the night in the underground hostel.
It was to rule the waves and lead the Austro-Hungarian Kriegsmarine to victorious battles. Alas, it was sunk by a small torpedo. The first and last Hungarian battleship's fate is also linked to the story of a certain Polish invention.
The 1960s cinema saw two great films set amidst the backdrop of ancient Egypt. One was the famous 1963 American production "Cleopatra". What was the other?
The true career of a Roman legionnaire, Saint Florian, was launched over a thousand years after his death when it turned out that, even though deceased for centuries, he had been doing miracles as a Krakow firefighter.
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.
The fall of the Soviet Union seemed like a miracle for those that lived through the 70s and 80s. Many people could not believe what was happening until it happened – on 11 March 1990, Lithuania declared independence.
Modrotisk, or Blueprinting, is an old Czech craft passed on by generations since the 16th century. It may look easy: printing white ornaments on blue fabric. But it is far more complicated than that.
In a world where neurosurgery was considered to be an inherently masculine domain, Sofia Ionescu made history during the Second World War when she first operated on a young boy, officially becoming the first-ever woman to perform brain surgery.
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.
Despite being part of only one episode of “The Simpsons,” a 19-second show-within-a-show became legendary. Few people know that the inspiration for it came from an Oscar-winning animated short from Zagreb.
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.
Look closer at this monument in a village in southern Bulgaria, and an inevitable question arises. Why is Prof. John Atanasoff, the American-born scientist credited with the invention of the first electronic digital computer, being honored here of all places?
The premiere of the new season of the Bulgarian edition of "The Bachelor" quickly revealed that many of the women fighting for the heart of the man in the spotlight have one thing in common: an affinity for injectable facial treatments and plastic surgery. What makes Bulgaria a special case when it comes to beauty enhancement?
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.
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.
Only one wall remained of this work of medieval architecture as sea encroached on its foundations. Then people joined the struggle and saved the remnants.
Ever wondered what a fish presumably as old as dinosaurs would look like? Or if there are any alive? And if so, where? The answer to these questions can all be found in the Asprete, the specimen believed to be Europe’s rarest freshwater fish.
Every Czech child knows Mr. Spejbl, his son Hurvínek, and their dog Žeryk. What does it matter that they are puppets? Their humor has entertained generations and will, no doubt, entertain more to come.
It should be fairly straightforward. You are born in a country, which means you are its citizen. If someone moves abroad, then after some time, the original connection is lost. Simple? Not when it comes to Poland! We'll tell you why.
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.
The Jew as a tavernkeeper remains a staple of any historical narrative based in early modern Poland. And there's a reason for that, as the occupation was virtually reserved for members of this closed society.
Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV is considered the most influential ruler of the High Middle Ages. Despite his education in France, he always remembered where he was born: Prague.
People all over the world wear pants, bras, and pajamas made in Latvia. A lot of the garments originate from Liepāja. How did this coastal city become the Northern country’s unofficial capital of lingerie?
Everyone loves their birthday. In some countries where the Catholic Faith is prevalent, people also tend to celebrate the day of their patron saint. The people of Vilnius make sure the day of Saint Casimir is a party no one wants to miss.
If you are planning a trip to Cracow, Poland (if you are not – then you should do), we want to help you avoid one of the most terrible culinary faux pas anyone can commit while in this gorgeous city. One that the locals would not forgive.
Should the Romanian Ursitoare have been present at the birth of Sleeping Beauty, she may not have ended up cursed, as it is the job of these creatures to protect and bless the newborn baby. Who, or what, are these mythological fairies, and why are they so important in Romanian culture?
Once upon a time, lions roamed parts of the Balkan Peninsula. Excavations show that the last lions were spotted in Bulgaria somewhere around the 3rd or 4th century BC. And while lions were not around to witness the birth of Bulgaria or its struggles, they remain one of the country’s symbols. Why?
Cupid and Eros had nothing on Romania’s Dragobete - a young demigod whose sole purpose was to remind people to love and appreciate one another. Celebrated on the 24 February, the holiday has become Romania’s version of Valentine’s Day.
The decline in the number of marriages and the rise in the number of divorces are ongoing trends in Europe. But in CEE countries, this trend is taking a much slower path. And there are examples of countries where it is even reversing.
The traditional Romanian woman’s blouse, known as ie, the symbol of authenticity and unity, has recently been recognized as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.
Communist countries were jealous of a few things from the West, and one of them was the famous "capitalist" soft drink. A Polish copy became the symbol of attempts at escaping communism – but in a very unexpected way.
After a long period of short, cold days and endless, dark nights, there comes a time when something has to be done about it. In Hungary, the people of Mohács might just have the answer.
Known as the "Millennium Schools," characteristic buildings made with one ingenious design are still the most prevalent of their kind in Poland.
Books are probably the last things that come to mind when you hear the word “illegal.” Crazy as it sounds, this was once the reality in Lithuania. And it wasn’t just books – it was everything from newspapers to shop signs - which sparked a lucrative smuggling trade.
If the phenomenon of a self-burning fire is not mind-blowing enough already, know that the living fire of Vrancea is more than just pretty flames. It is an indicator that the disaster that lies underneath is about to erupt.
A unique aspect of Slovenian folk art is the way it intermingles with everyday farm life in the form of artfully decorated beehives. It is not only an excellent example of how creativity takes shape in all environments but also how seriously the culture of beekeeping is taken in this country.
Socialism’s great hotel investment in the heart of Polish Tatra Mountains is glamorous again. And it gets one hell of an (unofficial) product placement in the latest production of the most famous Polish opera.
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.
A song, which some Latvians would like to see become the national anthem, has become an unofficial anthem of a faraway place - Catalonia. The Catalan independence movement gave the song new lyrics and meaning with the composer's blessing.
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.)
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.
The formation process of the world’s languages is one of the most fascinating stories humanity has ever written. At least for language geeks. Or can you get sucked in too?
Step inside the filming set of the newest adaptation of Adams Family, Wednesday, the coming-of-age spin-off that took the world by storm. From the ordinary city of Jericho to the outstanding Nevermore Academy, discover the locations of one of the most binge-watched series.
Found in bathroom cabinets around Latvia, the ointment is said to help ease colds and soothe burns and muscle aches in humans and pets. While several products co-exist on the market, only one claims to be the real Evija.
Not ready to hang up your skis come April or May? No need to worry. Some of Central Eastern Europe's top ski resorts will keep you on the trails well into spring.
The RAF Latvija minibus, a close relative of the Volkswagen Type 2, never managed to achieve the same legendary status as its competitor beyond the borders of the Soviet Union. But then again, it was little more than an inferior copy, after all.
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.
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.
"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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
The Varangian colonization of Ruthenia (modern-day Ukraine) was possible thanks to a river route flowing all the way from Lithuania through to the Black Sea.
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.
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.
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.
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.