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Chapter 9 Geography and tourism in Central Europe and the Balkan States.


* Central Europe and the Baker States are fragmented culturally and politically.

* The region is located between more powerful countries, which hindered its political development real in repeated conflicts.

* The region historically had a central monarchy and nobility whose palaces and other relics are important tourist attractions.

* There is a wide range of economic tourism development, standard of living and political stability.

* Central Europe is characterized by physical and cultural diversity.


* There is a diversity it entry requirements, but all countries are encouraging international tourism.

* The countries of Central Europe have increased their interest in tourism development.

* There is a wide variety of tourist attractions and landscapes.

* Tourism from the West has expanded dramatically since the revolutions of 1989 overthrew the Communist governments it the region.

* Mary attractions, highways, and accommodations have been destroyed because of conflicts in former Slovenia Croatia, Bosnia Kosovo, and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia.


The capitals of Central Elope and the Balkan States

Blade Sea Resorts

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Adriatic Sea Coast


Carpathian Mountains

Tatra Mountains


Lake Balaton

Julian Alps


Valley of Roses

Dinaric Alps

Romanian Riviera

Dalmatian Coast



Austro-Hungarian Empire


Eastern Orthodox

European Cities

European Plain


Hidden Economy


Iron Gate


Masurian Lake District


Mountains (Carpathian, Tatra, Dinaic Alps)

Tukic Ottoman Empire

World War II

In 1991 Croatia and Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia; Bosnia-Herzegovina followed in 1992. Macedonia also declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, but it is recognized only by a few countries. In 1997 Bosnia-Herzegovina was divided into Croat, Serb, and Muslim territories, with United Nations peacekeeping forces stationed in each. In 2000 the leader of Yugoslavia was replaced by an elected leader, which may signal a reduction in conflict in the region.



The countries of Central Europe and the Balkan States (Figure 9-1) are distinct geographically and as a tourism destination region in three readily identifiable ways. First, the region has only recently (1989) emerged from Communist domination. Communist governments made visiting difficult to varying degrees depending upon each individual country's policies. Second, the region spans a wide range of climatic, scenic, and cultural settings, providing a great variety of tourism experiences. Third, portions of this region are a living relic of medieval Europe, something which is unusual because of the extensive conflicts that have affected the continent in the last two centuries.


Some of these countries, such as Albania, avoided any tourism contact with the West in the past and are now opening to tourism. At the other extreme was Yugoslavia, which endeavored to develop its tourism industry as an integral element of its economic base. Visits by tourists to these countries prior to 1990 were indicative of their policy towards tourism. Yugoslavia and Hungary had millions of visitors, primarily from Western Europe, while Albania numbered tourists in the thousands. Analysis of the geography of these various countries illustrates the differences that exist between countries, the impact of government policies on tourism flows, and the tremendous changes that have occurred.

The Political Geography of Central Europe

The political geography of Central Europe is a function of its location and physical geography. The location is peripheral to the core of Europe centered in France, Germany, and the British Isles. The location is also important because certain countries lie along the trade routes between Asia and Europe, Russia and Europe, and the Middle East and Europe. In consequence they have been invaded and re-invaded, creating an ever-changing mosaic of boundaries and countries. The physical geography of Central Europe that contributed to the fragmentation of the region still affects the area. The contrast in physical geography between the European Plain of Poland and the mountainous peninsula occupied by Yugoslavia and Albania helps explain the present cultural fragmentation, which is partially reflected in the political boundaries of the region. Taken together, the location and physical geography of Eastern Europe continue to be expressed in the extraordinary changes presently occurring within the region.

The nations of Central Europe today share a long history of political and cultural evolution. At varying times, they have been invaded from Russia and the former Soviet Union, Germany, Austria, Turkey, and Rome. The resulting pattern of peoples, languages, and cultural characteristics makes this one of the most complex areas in the world. The most recent factors affecting the political geography of Central Europe and the Balkan States were the impact of World War II and the emergence of the Communist Party as the sole political party in each of these countries and the revolution of 1989 that overthrew the Communists, leading to both democracy and conflict. These changes in turn reflected events that transpired at the end of World War I, illustrating the importance of the past in explaining the present geography of the region. The final political boundaries in this area, particularly in what was Yugoslavia, still remain to be defined.


The countries of the region range in size from Poland (largest in population and area) to Macedonia (smallest in population and area).

The development of industry came late to this region. Industrial development primarily reflects developments since World War II. Even in the Czech Republic the bulk of industrial development historically occurred in the region adjoining Germany. The initial industrial development in western Czech Republic spread to southern Poland. Since World War II the industrialization of Central Europe has proceeded more rapidly. The general pattern of industrial development is from north to south, with the Czech Republic and Poland still having the highest level of industrialization. This reflects both their earlier beginnings in industrial development and the amount of assistance that they received from the former Soviet Union. Albania is the only country in which employment in industry does not exceed employment in agriculture.

The relative standard of living across the region reflects the level of economic development. As measured by per capita gross national product (GNP), Slovenia is the highest. It is misleading to assume, however, that the per capita GNP effectively measures the standard of living. The growing importance of private ownership of farms, small shops, and industries and service activities create a hidden economy that is not measured by the official GNP. Changes since 1989 have created inflation, private enterprises, and challenging economic situations for all of these countries, even affecting the ethnic divisions in the region that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia and the division of Czechoslovakia.

The conflict in Bosnia and Kosovo continues to create problems to the economic infrastructure of the region. How soon or whether recovery can occur in this region is questionable. In consequence, the economies of countries created from Yugoslavia have fallen from among the region's highest standards of living to among its lowest. Continued killing and destruction, of course, make even measurement of living standards meaningless.



The physical geography of Central Europe and the Balkan States has contributed both to the political fragmentation and the attractiveness of the region for tourists, Figure 9-2. The landforms of Central Europe can be divided roughly into four broad areas:

1. The North European Plain

2. The Central Mountains

3. The Plains of the Danube River

4. The Mountains and Coasts of the South

The North European Plain is an extension of the major landform feature of Western Europe that extends on to Russia as the Russian Plain. Most of the plain varies from 200 to 300 miles in width. Few features in the plain are higher than 900 feet above sea level. The landforms of the plain are not level and reflect the historic development of the North European Plain and its subsequent glaciation.

The first zone of the plain lies adjacent to the Baltic Coast. It is made up of glacial moraines of sand and gravel. These moraines create a series of hills or ridges that extend in an arc across the North European Plain from Denmark through Lithuania to Russia. These hills are a series of terminal moraines from glaciation, and in the northeast of Poland they have blocked the natural water drainage, creating the Masurian Lake District. Soils in this region are infertile, and much of the area is planted in pine forests.


South of these hills is a zone of sand and gravel that was stratified by melted water draining from the glaciers to the north. The soils are relatively infertile and are used for growing oats, rye, and potatoes. This zone creates the characteristic north Polish landscape of pine trees separated by large fields of rye, potatoes, or oats. Cutting across the sand and gravel deposits are the large shallow valleys created by the rivers of melt water that flowed from glaciers as they advanced and retreated over a period of a million years. The rivers of Poland (the Oder, Warta, and Vistula) are all found in these great valleys. Because they are broad, flat, and often marshy, they are also used for the canal routes that link the rivers of the European Plain. The soils are poorly drained and are often used as pasture for livestock.

Located north of the mountains that form the southern margin of the European Plain is a fertile plain where fine wind-blown material called loess was deposited near the end of the glacial period. These are the most fertile soils in Central Europe and are used for wheat, sugar beets, and other important crops.

The Poles, the largest cultural group in Central Europe, developed their distinctive cultural characteristics in the various zones of the North European Plain. The Poles created a number of capital cities over time on this plain, the most important of which were Poznan, Krakow, and Warsaw. Poznan was located on the Warta River and had access to the Vistula River by a glacial valley. Population growth led to a shift of the capital to Krakow because of its location on the upper Vistula River proper. Continued population growth and political changes ultimately prompted removal of the capital to Warsaw on the middle Vistula River. Warsaw has a more central location on the main route from Central Europe to Moscow, a fact that is important even today in trade and tourism.

The Central Mountain Zone

The Northern Plain ends as it meets the mountain ranges of the Carpathians, the Ore (Erzgebirge) and Sudeten Mountains. The most important of these are the Carpathian Mountains, which constitute a long arc of mountains ranging from 3,500 to over 8,000 feet elevation and extend a distance of over 1,000 miles. These are part of the Alpine geologic system of Europe. Portions of these mountains are rugged and scenic and are important for tourism. In the southern part of the Carpathians, the rugged nature is reflected in their designation as the Transylvanian Alps. The western ranges of the Carpathians include the high Tatra Mountains on the border between Slovakia and Poland. An important tourist area, the Tatra Mountains exceed 8,000 feet in elevation. Other ranges of the Carpathians are also very scenic and are the location of popular resorts in several of the countries of Central Europe.

The Ore and Sudeten Mountains are lower than the Carpathians. Their primary importance lies in the fact that they completely enclose the Bohemian Basin of the western Czech Republic. The Ore and Sudeten Mountains rise to 2,500 to 4,500 feet and represent old mountains that have been worn down by erosion over long periods and later uplifted. The Bohemian Basin contained within the Ore, Sudeten, and Carpathian Mountains is the location of the 1,000-year-old capital of the Czechs, Prague. The Sudeten and Ore Mountains are important for their mineral resources of iron ore and coal, and the Czech and German peoples have had a great amount of interaction over time in developing these mineral resources.

The Basin of the Danube

The Danube River is the largest and longest river of Europe. It cuts through a series of basins that are, in turn, the focus of individual cultural groups of the region. These basins begin with the Great Hungarian Plain of Hungary, Austria, and Slovakia. Farther down the Danube, the Wallachian Plain is found in Romania. The Hungarian Plain and the Wallachian Plain are separated by a resistant rock mass, which creates the gorges of the Danube River known as the Iron Gate. Historically a barrier to navigation, this is more important today as a unique scenic area of the Danube River. Agriculture in the Hungarian and Wallachian Plains forms the most important agricultural region of each of the countries that include portions of these plains. Their generally level nature has allowed transportation and urban areas to develop across them in response to population growth.

The Southern Mountain Systems

South of the Danube River Plains, a series of mountain ranges of alpine origin dominate the landscape of Central Europe. The Dinaric Alps run along the Adriatic Sea of the Mediterranean, forming the backbone of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and parts of Yugoslavia. North and east of the Dinaric Alps are the Hungarian Plains of northern Serbia, Croatia, and eastern Slovenia, while to the south and west the land drops rapidly to the Adriatic, creating scenic landscapes characterized by marginal agricultural activities interspersed with resort communities and a few cities occupying the small plains adjacent to the coast.

Approached from the sea, the coastline is imposing as it rises abruptly from the water. Agriculture utilizes terraces built over hundreds of years to produce olives, grapes, and corn, and to graze goats and sheep. The Dinaric Alps are made of limestone, which has been eroded by water to create a unique landscape form known as karst. The mountains extend as an unbroken barrier for 350 miles, with elevations varying from 4,000 to 6,500 feet. The highest point in the Dinaric Alps is 8,272 feet in the south of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

East of the Dinaric Alps, a series of hills and mountains dominate the Balkan Peninsula. The most important of these are the Balkan Mountains of Bulgaria. The Balkan Mountains generally run east-west and reach elevations over 8,500 feet, but a series of interlinked valleys provides a variety of routes between the Danubian Plains and the Mediterranean coastal region. The highest point in the Balkans is at Mount Musala, which rises to 9,610 feet. South of Mt. Musala are the narrow plains of northern Greece.

The combination of the Dinaric and Balkan mountains and the intervening hills was especially important because historically it led to isolation. A wide variety of cultural groups including Serbs, Slovenians, Macedonians, Turks, Croats, Bulgars, and Albanians lived over long periods of time in the isolated valleys of this mountainous region. Even today the cultural contrasts are highly recognizable as one travels across the countries created from Yugoslavia, adding to the potential attractiveness of the region for tourists.

Climate of Central Europe and the Balkan States

The climate of Central Europe and the Balkan States is transitional between the maritime climates of Western Europe, the Mediterranean climate of Southern Europe, and the continental climate of Russia. In the north in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, the climate is primarily humid continental, with cool summers similar to Wisconsin and Minnesota summers. The summer temperatures tend to be in the 70s or low 80s for the daytime maximums. These three countries are generally humid, but the relatively moderate daytime highs make summers comfortable. The areas south of the Sudetes in the Czech Republic, such as Prague in the west, are less humid because the mountains create a rainshadow effect. Slovakia and Poland are wetter in the summertime.

Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia have winter temperatures that rarely drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This region has a winter climate analogous to that found in areas of the United States such as St. Louis. The humid continental warm summer climates of Central Europe have a summer maximum of precipitation, with most countries receiving between 20 and 30 inches. Across the entire region, the only areas that have more than 30 inches of precipitation are associated with the mountains and highlands. The result is a climatic pattern of moderate to warm summers with seasonal extremes of winter cold in the north, but delightful and extensive autumn periods. North of the Dinaric Alps of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, snow covers much of the East European region for a prolonged period. The average duration of snow cover ranges from 40 days in northern Poland to 10 to 30 days over most of the highlands of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. The snow cover lasts longer in the mountains of the Carpathians and Dinaric Alps, making them an important winter resort region.

The highest temperatures found in the region are recorded in the coastal areas of Croatia, Albania, and southern Bulgaria, while the coldest temperatures are found in northeastern Poland, where the continental and latitudinal influences are greatest. The Black Sea Coast regions of Bulgaria and Romania have summer temperatures similar to those found in the Carolinas and Virginia of North America, which makes them attractive to tourists.

A Mediterranean climatic type is found along the Adriatic sea coast of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania. The Mediterranean climates of the Adriatic are characterized by long, hot, dry summers and moderate humid winters. Across the Mediterranean region, the precipitation is between 20 and 30 inches, most of which falls in the winter season. The hot dry summers combine with the beaches of Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and Macedonia to make it a most attractive destination for foreign tourists in Central Europe when it is not handicapped by armed conflict. The winter season in the coastal Mediterranean climate has temperatures that range between 30 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit range. The climatic variety found in Central Europe provides a mirror image to that found in Western Europe. The range from the cool continental climates of northern Poland to the Mediterranean climate of Croatia is very similar to the range found from northern Germany to Spain or Italy with their Mediterranean climates.


Tourism in Central Europe and the Balkan States reflects the physical and cultural geography of the region. European cities and towns are central to tourism in Central Europe. The pattern of urban development reflects both the recent changes in industrialization and economic development and the historic population distribution based on the physical geography of the region. Major industrial cities remain the primary economic centers of the individual countries. From Warsaw in Poland to Prague in the Czech Republic to Budapest in Hungary to Belgrade in Yugoslavia, the old cities remain dominant. In part, this reflects their political role, but it also reflects their development over long periods of time as economic and trade centers.

The emergence of medieval states in the Middle Ages was associated with the development of a capital city in each. These capital cities became the focus of the castle and the cathedral in that state. The close association of government and church is manifested in the role the church played in selecting the kings, crowning them, and providing them with skilled administrative staff. These old cities developed on a hill or defensible site such as the Wawel at Krakow, the Hills of Buda in Budapest, or the Hradcany Castle of Prague. Within the fortification was located the castle of the king and the cathedral of the bishop or archbishop. The Wawel at Krakow best retains its appearance of a medieval capital and is a major tourist attraction. The Hradcany of Prague preserves its Gothic Cathedral of St. Vitus, but most of the present buildings on the hill date from the eighteenth century. The other capitals such as Budapest, Zagreb, and Warsaw have been destroyed by wars and later rebuilt.

Other cities developed in the region primarily for trade purposes. The majority of these cities have a castle or monastery as the nucleus around which they developed. The cities were generally planned with at least a number of straight streets intersecting at right angles to create rectangular blocks. One of these central blocks became the marketplace, which is typical of the older merchant cities of Central Europe. The towns contain parish churches, but the churches are rarely as ostentatious or pretentious as the town or guildhall. Because of the role of the merchants in most of the cities of Central Europe, the guildhall emerges as the dominant architectural attraction where it has not been destroyed.

The coastal town, whether along the Baltic or the Mediterranean coast, is related to merchant trade of the late Middle Ages. The few towns along the Baltic Coast reflect the trading of the Hanseatic League. Houses are tall and richly decorated, with warehouses built along the waterfront as at Gdansk, Poland. They reflect the tradition of Hamburg and the German traders who came to the Baltic Coast. Mediterranean coastal settlements generally derive from Italy. Rijeka, Croatia (formerly the Italian community of Fiume), was originally a Roman settlement. Split, Croatia, grew around the palace built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian for his retirement.

Some of the older towns have surviving relics from the Roman Period, or churches dating from the second and third centuries. Dubrovnik, Croatia, was originally a small island settlement of Italian merchants. By filling in the narrow channel that separated it from the coast, it was able to expand onto the mainland. Unfortunately, Dubrovnik, which was once one of the premier attractions in Yugoslavia, was heavily damaged by Serbian shelling when Croatia declared its independence in 1991. Most of the medieval towns in Central Europe date from medieval times and medieval trade rather than from the Romans or the early Italian state. Initially established for trade, the old core is generally recognizable even today. The medieval settlement was surrounded by a wall or fortification for defense, and the line of these walls is visible in the parks or boulevards that still are found in some cities, such as Budapest or Prague. In a few instances, the medieval walls survive, as at Zagreb in Croatia or in Warsaw, Poland. The newer areas of these towns (1800s forward) are recognizable because of larger or stylistically distinct buildings with wider streets.

An important characteristic of a medieval town was its division into sectors, in each of which there was some specialization by occupation or trade. Prior to World War II, this segregation into districts was most evident in the persistence of Jewish ghettos. The calculated destruction of these overcrowded ghettos during World War II destroyed much of the uniqueness of the ghettos of Central Europe, but the old Jewish cemeteries and tabernacles still exist in some communities, adding to the character of the communities.

The Turkic Ottoman Empire had an influence on Bulgaria, parts of Romania, the south of Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Albania for many centuries. In these areas occupied by the Turks, the cities' sections were divided on the basis of religious belief or ethnic group rather than occupation. Cities in these regions have characteristic architecture, including mosques dating from the Islamic religion of Turkic invaders and cathedrals of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which share many of the architectural characteristics of the mosque. The onion-shaped domes, arches, and uses of tile are typical of the Islamic influence in the Byzantine architecture of this area of Eastern Europe, greatly enhancing its attraction to tourists. Many have been damaged or destroyed by ethnic conflict between 1991 and 2000.

Grafted onto the old towns of Central Europe are the structures of the post-World War II Communist period. These are more homogeneous and better planned than the early towns in terms of ease of movement, but they are less interesting. The characteristics of these areas include large apartment blocks, state-run shops, children's playgrounds, and a generally monotonous and egalitarian community. The Communist presence of monumental architecture (Palace of Culture, the Party Headquarters), fountains, and boulevards with gardens are designed to make the quality of life less crowded and more efficient. They succeed in this, but because they were repeated over and over throughout the region, they are less interesting to tourists than the towns from the previous era. Until 1989, tourism reflected the impact of the Communist governments. With the exception of Yugoslavia, tourism was normally operated by a national government travel agency, which owned and operated the major hotels and national tourist offices and controlled most tourism.

Most international tourism in the past was characterized by planned movements of groups between the eastern European countries themselves. The overthrow of Communism has transformed the character of tourism to the region. Western tourism has increased dramatically since the breakup of the Communist block. Easing of entry requirements, the emergence of private travel agencies and tour companies offering low-cost travel compared with Western Europe, visits to ancestral homelands, and curiosity about the formerly reclusive region motivated Western tourists to the area. Other factors affecting the number of visitors to individual countries reflect the level of development of the tourism infrastructure. Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary are the primary destinations, with nearly 47 million visitors in 1999, compared with less than six million visitors for the remaining eight countries in the region (Figure 9-3). The countries in this region that have seen absolute declines in visitor numbers are those most closely involved in the conflicts associated with the breakup of Yugoslavia.


As would be expected, the level of tourism facilities in Central Europe is a reflection of the Communist system. With few exceptions, hotels and other accommodations are clean and adequate, but not luxurious. A few luxury hotels have been constructed in major cities, such as the Hilton in Budapest. There still exist a few major hotels that predate the Communist Revolution in Central Europe, with all of the elegance expected by the wealthy travelers of the pre-World War II era. As with most of the public facilities in the countries of Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, however, these luxury hotels are but a shadow of their former elegance. The service level is also lower than is normally experienced in Western Europe and other countries where the staff has an incentive to ensure that the service provided is outstanding. New hotels have been completed in the three leading tourism destination countries as Western hotel chains invest in the region.



Capital: Warsaw

Government: Democratic Republic

Size: 120,728 square miles (nearly identical to New Mexico)

Language: Polish

Ethnic Division: 98.7% Polish, 0.6% Ukrainian, 0.5% Belarussian, less than 0.05% Jewish

Religion: 95% Roman Catholic, 5% Russian and Greek Orthodox, Protestant, Other

Peak Tourist Season: May through September

Currency: Zloty

Population: 38.6 million (2001)

Entry: Visas are not required for stays up to 90 days. Visitors
must register with hotel or police within 48 hours of arrival in

Transportation: Good air and rail connectivity to major
cities and tourist destinations. Within the cities public
transportation is efficient and inexpensive. Purchase tickets from
kiosks on board and punch the tickets in machines mounted
near the door.

Currency: Do not convert large sums of currency. In many
cases it is better to use hard currency (dollars, Euro, British
pounds) to purchase goods and service.

Shopping: Common items include regional costumes, handwoven
rugs, lace, embroidery, ceramics, woodcarving, amber
jewelry, coral jewelry, leather work, metalwork, peasant dolls,
wooden toys, crystal, and art.


Poland has the largest population in Central Europe and has the
seventh largest population in Europe. It is ethnically homogeneous
with 98 percent Polish. Poland is predominantly active
Catholic. The Catholic church was strong during the Communist
regime and has been strongly nationalistic.

Cultural Hints:

* Shake hands to greet, with men waiting for women to extend
hand first.

* Generally do not embrace or touch while talking.

* Don't chew gum when talking with Poles.

* Toasting during meals is common.

* Eating and foods:

Tips are expected.

Wait to eat until all are served.

Common foods include pierogi (dumplings with cream
cheese and potatoes), cabbage dishes of all kinds, and

Physical Characteristics

Poland is part of the European Plain that continues to the Ural Mountains. It is bordered on the north by the Baltic Sea and the Carpathian Mountains to the south along the Czech border. The climate is moderately severe in the winters, with mild, cool summers with frequent showers and thundershowers.

Tourism Characteristics

Poland has some of the greatest cultural attractions of Central Europe, but it is handicapped by the fact that it lacks the major attractions for tourists--sun, sea, and sand. The Polish government is desperately trying to increase the number of tourists to Poland. Tourism in Poland was estimated at 18 million in 1999, but an even greater number of visitors come as day-trippers from neighboring Germany to take advantage of lower prices on nearly all consumer goods (Figure 9-4). Visitors from the United States totaled 93,000 in 1989, but increased 500 percent by 1999, when 480,000 Americans visited the country. The Polish populations in the United States and Canada account for much of the travel from Anglo-America. With the change in government it is anticipated that future visitors to Poland will be more diverse. The currency (Zloty) is stable and readily convertible, but in the past there was a shortage of hotel rooms in Central European countries. That has changed as a number of American companies opened new hotels in the 1990s. Warsaw has a 444-room Marriott, 355-room Sheraton, and 328-room Holiday Inn. A number of other international standard hotels have opened. Poland is experiencing a boom in private enterprise bringing a growth in street markets, new retail shops, restaurants, private hotels, car hire firms, and travel agencies.


Tourist Destinations and Attractions

The major destinations in Poland are the cities of Warsaw, Krakow, and the Baltic Coast, especially the port city of Gdansk. Warsaw was the third capital of Poland and was built in the seventeenth century. Destroyed during World War II by the Germans as they resisted Russian attempts to take the city in 1944, it has since been reconstructed. The old structures were rebuilt using street scene paintings, which can be seen in the national museum. The museums and reconstructed architecture are major tourist attractions, particularly the monument to the heroes of the Jewish ghetto. The monument remembers the nearly half-million Jewish people of Warsaw who were killed by the Nazis during World War II. Near Warsaw is the birthplace of Chopin (at Zelazowa Wola). The Pulski's museum at Warka, the Wilanow and Lazienki palaces of the kings of Poland, and the restored "old town," Figure 9-5, are also fascinating.

Krakow was not destroyed or even damaged during the war. The Wawel Mount is still dominated by the royal castle, which dates from the 1500s. Originally the second capital of Poland, the royal castle houses crown jewels, royal tapestries, and historical exhibits. The cathedral on Wawel Mount houses the crypts of the Polish kings and reflects the relationship of the church to the state during much of Poland's history. The old town in Krakow is a treasury of old architecture. The important structures are the Gothic Collegium Maius, now the Museum of the Jagiellonian University, the Main Market Square with the Cloth Hall, and the Church of Our Lady. Some of Krakow's architecture and art collections date from the early Middle Ages.

Poznan, an ancient Polish city, has become an important business travel center. The old Market Square with the town hall has a number of classical and baroque-style buildings. Near Poznan is Kornik, the medieval castle of Zamoyskis, with a library of priceless manuscripts.

The Baltic Coast has a length of 365 miles with sandy beaches. Water temperatures tend to be cool, but it still attracts numerous visitors during the short summer season. The coastal resort of Sopot and the reconstructed portions of Gdansk and Szczecin, two Hanseatic cities in the north, are major attractions.

The southern mountains have the winter resort area of Zakopane, near the Czech border. It is visited year-round, offering hiking and alpine climbing in the summer and skiing and other winter sports in the winter. Throughout the Tatra mountains, there is a beautiful scenery with steep, austere ridges and peaks, mysterious caves, beautiful forests, swift-flowing streams and waterfalls, and dozens of lakes of all sizes.



Physical Characteristics

The terrain is a mixture of hills and mountains separated by plains and basins. Bohemia, the westernmost region in the Czech Republic, consists of rolling plains, hills, and plateaus surrounded by low mountains to the north, west, and south. Moravia, the eastern part of the Czech Republic, is more hilly than Bohemia and is bordered on the north by the Carpathian Mountains. Slovakia has mountains in the central and northern part and lowlands in the south that are important for agriculture. The climate of the Czech Republic is temperate, with cool summers and cold, cloudy, humid winters. Slovakia has wider extremes--warmer summers in the south and colder, more severe winters in the mountains in the north.


Tourism Characteristics

The Czech Republic and Slovakia have a long tradition of tourism concentrated in the Czech Republic. It was part of early European tourism during the development of resort spas in the 1800s. It has a growing tourist industry. Visitors to the Czech Republic and Slovakia increased from 4.5 million in 1983 to over 11 million in 1999. By 1999 the Czech Republic was the dominant destination, receiving 15 million of the total visitors. They also receive a large number of day visitors. The major tourism markets for the Czech Republic are Germany, Austria, and Poland, which are also the major sources of day visitors. The Czech Republic is a much more attractive destination than the more rural Slovakia. Although it appears from Figures 9-6 and 9-7 that they have the same market, the Czech Republic attracts visitors from much greater distances. Famous historical spas offering high-quality service are Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary), Marienbad (Marianske Lazne), and Piest'any. Its central location, wide network of transport, and cultural linkage with the rest of Europe have allowed the Czech Republic to have a strong tourist tradition. Slovakia is more rural and has always had only a fraction of the tourists visiting the Czech area.


The Czech Republic


Capital: Prague

Government: Democratic Republic

Size: Approximately 30,000 square miles (slightly smaller than Maine)

Language: Czech and some Slovak Ethnic Division: 94% Czech, 3% Slovak

Religion: 39% Roman Catholic, 4.6% Protestant, 3% Orthodox, 13% other, 40% atheist

Tourist Season: April through October

Peak Tourist Season: June through September

Currency: Crown

Population: 10.3 million (2001)

Entry: Visas are not required for stays under 30 days.

Visiting: The former Czechoslovakia travel organizations,
Cedok and CSA (Czechoslovak Airlines) are still the prime
organizations for selling travel to both countries.

Transportation: There is an excellent network of bus, rail,
and air service. Public transportation in the cities is good. Direct
air service is available from the United States as well as
the European gateways of Paris and Brussels.

Shopping: Common items include Bohemian crystal, Carlsbad
china, handicrafts, and ceramics in the Czech Republic
and Slovak ceramics and embroidered articles in the Slovak



Capital: Bratislava

Government: Democratic Republic

Size: Approximately 19,000 square miles (equal to New Hampshire and Vermont)

Language: Slovak and Czech

Ethnic Division: 86% Slovak, 10% Hungarian, some Czech, German, Polish, Ukrainian, Russian

Religion: 60% Roman Catholic, 20% Protestant, Orthodox and other, 10% atheist

Peak Tourist Season: April through October

Currency: Koruna

Population: 5.4 million (2001)

The division of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and
Slovakia represented ethnic differences. Other ethnic groups include
60,000 Hungarians in Slovakia. Both have some Ukrainians,
Germans, and Poles. There are about 250,000 Gypsies,
mainly in Slovakia, who represent the fastest-growing minority.
Czechs and Slovaks were united after World War I and remained
so under Communist control. In 1993 Czechoslovakia split into
the two independent states. The division was largely an urban
(Czech) and rural (Slovak) division.

Cultural Hints:

* Shake hands on greeting, with men waiting for women to
extend hand first.

* Eye contact is important.

* A stiff forefinger turned on the temple of the head indicates
someone is crazy, and is very rude.

* A good topic of conversations is sports.

* Eating and foods:
When finished eating, place your knife and fork to one
side of your plate.

Don't put your elbows on the table.

Toasting is common.

Food differs somewhat by ethnic group, but pork roast,
dumplings, sauerkraut, ham, and sausage are the most

The Czech Republic and Slovakia appear to have the best future for tourism in Eastern Europe. They have natural beauty and an outstanding wealth of places of historic, cultural, and architectural interest. They are within easy accessibility to Europe's main origin markets and do not have the problems of Bulgaria or Romania or the economic difficulties of the Baltic States.

Tourist Destinations and Attractions

The premier tourist destination in the Czech Republic is Prague (Praha). The medieval city of Prague is built on seven hills on both sides of the river Vltava. The old Charles Bridge (now closed to vehicular traffic) carries visitors to the ancient city and fortress. The beautiful medieval castle city of Prague with its well-preserved buildings of all social classes from the Middle Ages is one of the most important attractions in Central Europe, Figure 9-8.

The architecture and atmosphere of Prague make it one of the most delightful cities in Europe. Because Prague's old city was not destroyed by war, it allows visitors to see something of what life was like several hundred years ago. Tourist accommodations are limited, and hotel reservations must be made up to a year in advance for visits that coincide with festivals. Reservations should be made at least several months in advance for hotel accommodations in Prague during the entire summer season.

Today much tourism to the Czech Republic is related to the health spas, which have attracted visitors for centuries. The most notable of these are Karlovy Vary and Marienbad. The principal attractions here and at the more than 50 other spas are the waters, which are impregnated with sulfur. The odor is breathtaking, but they are reputed to be remarkably effective in terms of health. Giant Mountains National Park has excellent ski facilities.

The primary destination in Slovakia is Bratislava, which was once the capital of Hungary. As the capital, it developed an international and cosmopolitan atmosphere. The Bratislava castle is 200 feet up on a hill overlooking the city. The architecture, museums, and other attractions make Bratislava an interesting visit. It also has the longest beer hall in Europe.


The Tatra Mountains and Tatras National Park are the second major destination for tourists in Slovakia. The mountains have a number of ski resorts and have a relatively long ski season. Tatranska Lomonica is the most famous summer and winter resort in the region.


Physical Characteristics

The terrain is mostly flat with rolling plains. The climate is temperate, cold, cloudy, and humid in the winters, with warm, humid summers.

Tourism Characteristics

Hungary has had a long history of tourism and has an excellent transportation network. Europe accounts for more than 98 percent of the visitors to Hungary with


Capital: Budapest

Government: Democratic Republic

Size: 35,921 square miles (slightly smaller than Indiana)

Language: 98.2% Hungarian, 1.8% other

Ethnic Division: 89.9% Hungarian, 4.0% Gypsy, 2.6% German, 2.0% Serb, 0.8% Slovak

Religion: 67.5% Roman Catholic, 20.0% Calvinist, 5.0% Lutheran, 7.5% atheist and other

Tourist Season: April through October

Peak Tourist Season: July (20%) and August (28%)

Currency: Forints (FOR)

Population: 10.0 million (2001)

Entry: No visa is required for stays less than 90 days.
Transportation: International airlines offer direct services to
Budapest from North America and Europe. Train service is
available via Vienna, and Hungary is part of the Eurail system.
Public transportation is good in cities. Budapest has an inexpensive
subway, trolley, and bus system.
Telecommunications: Telephone and fax services are readily
available at standard international rates.
Shopping: Common items include hand-embroidered material,
peasant pottery, Herend and Zsolnay china figures, and
leather work.


Magyars (the Hungarian name for both the people and the language)
comprise 98 percent of the population. There are small
groups of Germans, Slovaks, Gypsies, and Romanians.

Cultural Hints:

* Greet with a handshake, with men waiting for women to
extend hand first.

* Avoid uninvited touching of others.

* Avoid discussions of politics or religion.

* Eating and foods:

Tips are customary.

Popular food includes goulash (a stew of meat, potatoes,
and onions), pork, chicken, noodles, potatoes, and
dumplings. Paprika is a popular spice. Strudel and pancakes
are popular desserts.

Austria, Germany, and Slovakia being major market areas (Figure 9-9). The Slovakian visitors are often on one-day trips, having less impact than the longer staying visitors from Western Europe. The United States accounts for only 1 percent of tourists, many of whom are on side trips from Vienna. Tourism from Anglo-America grew rapidly in the 1990s as Budapest became one of the most popular destinations of Central Europe.

Hungary has both medieval communities and the grandeur of the relics of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (Budapest is often referred to as the Vienna of Central Europe.) Prices on other consumer goods made in Europe can be low as well. Hungarian-made clothing, musical instruments, handicrafts, and artwork are relatively cheap when purchased with foreign currency.


Tourist Destinations and Attractions

The major tourist attraction in Hungary is Budapest, but hotel space is at a premium in spite of more than 16,000 hotel rooms in the city. Budapest is the primary destination because of its beautiful location along the Danube, Figure 9-10, and the sense of being in one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

The city consists of two parts: Buda, which is the hill side of the river and includes Castle Hill with its numerous Gothic structures, Figure 9-11, including the former Royal Palace; and Pest, on the other side of the Danube, the newer, low-lying part of the city. The designation as new is somewhat misleading, as even the newer part dates from the Middle Ages. Post-World War II structures are built in the areas surrounding the city. The major attractions include the Parliament Building, Varosliget (the city park, which contains both a zoo and a fun center), and the Corso. The Corso is a broad boulevard running along the Danube River's edge. It is popular with residents and tourists alike. Budapest has nightclubs, gambling casinos, and modern hotels that rival western European countries. The final attraction is the excellent shopping opportunities at relatively low costs. Budapest is the starting place for cruises to the Black Sea.

The second tourist area of Hungary is Lake Balaton. This is the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe, and it is surrounded by campgrounds, which attract Hungarians, Italians, and Germans. Water temperatures are in the high seventies in the summer because of the shallow nature of the lake. Spas have always been popular in Hungary, dating back to the occupation of the region by both the Romans and the Turks.





Capital: Bucharest

Government: Democratic Republic

Size: 91,699 square miles (slightly smaller than Oregon)

Language: Romanian, Hungarian, and German

Ethnic Division: 89.1% Romanian, 8.9% Hungarian, 0.4%

German, 1.6% Ukrainian, Serb, Croat, Russian, Turk, and Gypsy

Religion: 70% Romanian Orthodox, 6% Roman Catholic, 6%

other, 18% unaffiliated

Tourist Season: March through December

Peak Tourist Season: June (10%), July (18%), and August 20%)

Currency: Lei

Population: 22.4 million (2001)

Entry: Visas are required and can be obtained at Romanian
consulates or upon arrival at borders on the International Airport
in Bucharest.

Transportation: There are direct international flights to
other European nations and North America. Rail connections
connect domestic and international routes. Travel time from
Vienna is approximately 20 hours. Driving is not advised.
Public transportation is inexpensive and readily available.

Telecommunications: International telephone and fax services
are generally good, but there are delays in placing calls
and they are quite expensive.

Shopping: Common items include handicrafts and rugs.


The people are 89 percent ethnic Romanians, tracing their origins
to Latin-speaking Romans and Thracian, Slavonic, and
Celtic ancestors. Among the principal minorities are Hungarians
and Germans with some Gypsies, Serbs, Croats, Ukrainians,
Greeks, Turks, Armenians, and Russians. Most of the minority
populations reside in Transylvania or areas to the north and west
of Bucharest.

Cultural Hints:

* Firm handshake on meeting and departing.

* Business cards are freely exchanged.

* Women need to dress conservatively when visiting a Greek
Orthodox Church (covered arms and skirts).

* Two insulting gestures are the hand closed with the little
and index fingers raised, and the hand closed with the
thumb between the index and middle fingers.

* Eating and foods:
Hands should be kept above the table.
Toasting is common.

Foods include mititei (grilled meat balls), patricieni
(grilled sausage), and mamaliga (cornmeal mush),
soups, and pastries.

Physical Characteristics

Romania is mostly flat to undulating plains with hills and mountains in the northwest (Carpathians and the Transylvanian Alps). The climate in the mountains is extreme, with cold, cloudy, snowy winters. The climate is moderate in Transylvania and along the Black Sea.

Tourism Characteristics

Since the early 1970s, Romania has developed its tourist structure rapidly. Romania has a variety of good hotels and restaurants. Most of its tourists are from surrounding Central European countries and Russia (Figure 9-12). Romania's tourism is centered around its rich cultural tradition, some of which predates the Roman occupation. The traditional folk arts, including dance, wood carving, ceramics, weaving, and embroidery of costumes combine with folk music to provide interest for visitors. The country's many Orthodox monasteries along with the Transylvanian Catholic and Evangelical churches have rich history and many artistic treasures.


Tourist Destinations and Attractions

Three major areas attract the bulk of tourists to Romania. These are the Black Sea Coast; the capital, Bucharest; and Transylvania. Coastal resorts begin in the north near Constanta and extend over 150 miles south to Mangalia. The main attractions include the sun and sea, thermal springs, health spas (including medicinal mud), and ruins that are 2,700 years old. Bucharest is a large and sprawling city with a variety of architectural relics dating from the influence of Rome to the Turkic Byzantine Empire to the neoclassic styles of the late Renaissance. Modern construction includes the conventional bland apartment buildings, skyscrapers, and a unique circular department store. The presence of the village museum adjacent to Bucharest is also a major tourist attraction. The village museum has nearly 500 peasant houses, churches, barns, and other relics that show how peasants in the Danubian Plains lived during past centuries. These peasant dwellings include underground homes, brush homes, log homes, and adobe dwellings, Figure 9-13.

The Transylvania area is important because of its association with Dracula in the minds of Western visitors. In actuality the castle of the fifteenth-century prince Vlad Tepes (from whom Dracula is derived) is located in Wallachia rather than Transylvania. Vlad's castle is accessible from the Black Sea Coast.


Transylvania has the second largest city in Romania, Brasov. The primary attractions are the scenic open mountain countryside and peasant villages. The "Romanian Riviera" of the Black Sea stretches south from Constanta for 150 miles. Throughout this region are the typical beach resorts of high-rise hotels and an abundance of nightclubs, restaurants, discos, and bars. Constanta was founded by the Greeks in the sixth century B.C. and was an important seaport under the Romans and the Turks.

Yugoslavia and Montenegro

Physical Characteristics

The terrain is varied. There are rich fertile plains. To the east are ranges and basins; to the southeast, ancient mountains and hills; to the southwest, a high shoreline with no islands off the coast. The climate in the north is continental with cold winters and hot, humid summers. In the south along the coast it is hot and dry in the summer and relatively cold in the winter.


Capital: Belgrade (Podgorica for Montenegro)

Government: Democratic Republic

Size: Yugoslavia: 34,135 square miles (slightly larger than

South Carolina) Montenegro: 5,298 square miles (about the size of Connecticut)

Language: Serbo-Croatian

Ethnic Division: Serb (majority), Albanians, Montenegrins, Hungarians

Religion: 65% Eastern Orthodox, 19% Muslim, 4% Roman Catholic, 1% Protestant and 11% other minority religions

Tourist Season: April through October

Peak Tourist Season: July and August

Currency: Yugoslav New Dinar

Population: 10.7 million (2001)

Entry: No visa needed. Entry stamp allows a 90-day stay.

Transportation: International connections by rail and air
connect Belgrade with other European countries.

Caution: The collapse of the Yugoslav federation and the ethnic
warfare have destabilized the area.

Shopping: Common items include peasant handicrafts, embroidered
blouses, gold and silver filigree jewelry, carpets,
leather goods, carved wooden goods, laces, and pottery.


The people are Serbs and ethnic Montenegrins. All are adherents
of the Serbian Orthodox Church. There are a few Muslims and Roman
Catholics, but the future for minorities is uncertain.

Cultural Hints:

* Handshake upon greeting.

* Dress conservatively.

* To beckon a waiter raise your hand.

Tourism Characteristics

Yugoslavia stood in marked contrast to the rest of Central Europe prior to 1990. The primary source of tourists to Yugoslavia was not Central Europe, but West Germany. With the breakup of Yugoslavia and the ethnic tension in Kosovo the number of tourists dropped dramatically in the 1990s, and the source region of visitors changed considerably. Many of the Western European visitors went to the coastal and mountain areas of what is now Slovenia and Croatia. By the end of the 1990s neither Yugoslavia nor Macedonia, which became independent in 1995, had many visitors. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the major markets appeared to be more regional than before the 1990s (Figure 9-14). In the future, when peace and a stable government occur, the patterns may change considerably.

Prior to 1990 the accommodations within Yugoslavia were somewhat uniform in that they tended to reflect the prevailing philosophy of the centrally planned economies of Central Europe in providing basic accommodations. Although Yugoslavia had four classes of hotels plus accommodations in private homes and campgrounds or youth hostels, there was not a marked difference between the highest- and lowest-class hotels in terms of basic accommodations. The hotels of Yugoslavia tended to be geared directly to mass tourism of the middle class from Europe. Primary differences were in the nature and quality of the entertainment and the amenities offered rather than in the accommodations themselves.


Conflict and destruction of facilities make it inadvisable to visit the new countries created from Yugoslavia or the remnant country of Yugoslavia itself.

Tourist Destinations and Attractions

The Adriatic coastline in Montenegro attracted a large number of visitors before the division of Yugoslavia. Today, it is isolated and remote from major industrial countries of Europe. There is a ferry to Italy from Bar on the south coast. While there are no major islands off the coast, there are excellent long, sandy beaches. Budva is the largest tourist center on the Montenegrin coast, drawing mostly inexpensive package visitors. Budva is a restored old-walled town in the center of a beautiful beach. Further north the Bay of Kotor is the longest and deepest fjord in southern Europe, providing picturesque ferry and bus rides.

The major destination in Yugoslavia is the capital, Belgrade. The dominant attraction in Belgrade is the Kalemegdan Citadel, a hilltop fortress at the junction of the Sava and Danube rivers. Orthodox churches, medieval gates, Turkish baths, and Muslim tombs are all part of the citadel. The Monument of Gratitude to France and a large Military Museum are here also. Nearby, Stari Grad, the oldest part of Belgrade, contains the National Museum and the Ethnographical Museum with a collection of Serbian costumes and art. Belgrade's most important museum is the Palace of Princess Ljubice, an authentic Balkan-style palace built in 1831 and still furnished in that time period. Marshal Tito's grave and former residence is a few miles south of Belgrade.

Southern Yugoslavia has a number of Orthodox monasteries with thirteenth- and fourteenth-century frescoes. Near the village of Despotovac is Manasija Monastery built in 1418 and completely enclosed in defensive walls and towers. The oldest and one of the greatest monasteries of medieval Serbia is south of Kraljevo. There are a number of monasteries in the region and Novi Pazar, which is a Muslim town. There are old Turkish mosques, inns, and bathhouses.



Capital: Ljubljana

Government: Democracy

Size: 7,836 square miles (slightly larger than New Jersey)

Language: 91% Slovene, 7% Serbo-Croatian, 2% other

Ethnic Division: 91% Slovene, 3% Croat, 2% Serb, 1% Muslim, 3% other

Religion: 70.8% Roman Catholic, 2% Muslim, 27.2% other

Tourist Season: April through October

Peak Tourist Season: July and August

Population: 2.0 million (2001)

Entry: Visas are not required. Tourist cards are obtained at the

Transportation: There are good rail and road connections to

Slovenia. The cities have good public transportation.

Shopping: Common items include peasant handicrafts, embroidered
blouses, gold and silver filigree jewelry, carpets,
leather goods, carved wooden goods, laces, and pottery.


The people are predominantly Slovenes, 89 percent, with some
Croats and Serbs. The first Slovenes settled in the region in the
sixth century A.D., but by the ninth century it was part of the
Holy Roman Empire and became Germanized.

Cultural Hints:

* Greetings are made with a handshake.

* Eating and foods:

Don't put your elbows on the table.
Foods are Germanic in taste and type. Sausages and sauerkraut,
game dishes, Austrian strudel, dumplings, and
pastries are all tasty.

Physical Characteristics

Much of the region consists of mountains and valleys with a short coastal strip on the Adriatic. The climate of the coastal regions has hot, dry summers and cool wet winters. The plateaus and valleys are mild to hot in the summers and cold in the winter.

Tourism Characteristics

Slovenia has been affected less by the division of Yugoslavia and is consequently better able to handle tourists than the other republics. Slovenia is a transition between Central Europe and the Balkans. Much of the area reminds a visitor of the Austrian Alps or Bavaria with its wooded slopes, fertile valleys, scenic rivers, and neat little villages. Available tourism data indicate that tourism is slowly increasing. Slovenia draws a significant number of visitors from the nearby countries of Italy, Austria, Croatia, and Germany (Figure 9-15).

Tourist Destinations and Attractions

The two major destination regions of Slovenia are the area around the capital, Ljubljana, and the Julian Alps. Ljubljana is a small city on the banks of the Sava River. Castle Hill dominates the landscape. Castles, cathedrals, museums, and markets are spread throughout the town. The most famous destination near Ljubljana and the road to Rijeka are the famous Postojna Caves. Visitors are taken by train and on foot through 3 miles of the nearly 17-mile cave. The Skocjan Caves were placed on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1986 but are more difficult to visit due to their remoteness.

The Julian Alps, shared with Italy, provide both summer and winter activities. The region is one of the finest hiking areas in Central Europe. The area contains the Triglav National Park, which was founded in 1924. It provides mountain huts scattered throughout the region. Hikers pass outstanding waterfalls, narrow gorges, glacial lakes, and scenic valleys. The most fashionable resort in the Julian Alps is Bled, set on a beautiful crystal-clear emerald lake.



Physical Characteristics

The terrain is diverse with flat plains along the Hungarian border and low mountains and highlands near the Adriatic coast. The coast is hot, with dry summers and wet and mild winters. The interior has hot summers and cold winters.

Tourism Characteristics

The war created serious problems for the tourist industry. In general the area of Zagreb, Istria, and the islands of northern Croatia are safe and can be visited without problems. The Adriatic resorts have been affected by the war. In some cases considerable destruction has occurred, and in others there is limited access because of war damage. This is particularly true farther south at Osijek and Dubrovnik. The mountain regions are inaccessible at this time. Although the effects of the war will be noticeable for some time, tourists are beginning to return to some coastal attractions. The majority of visitors are from the region, Italy, and Germany (Figure 9-16).



Capital: Zagreb

Government: Parliamentary democracy

Size: 21,800 square miles (slightly smaller than West Virginia)

Language: Croatian

Ethnic Division: 78% Croat, 12% Serb, 10% Muslim, Hungarian, Slovene, and others

Religion: 76.5% Catholic, 11.1% Orthodox, 1.2% Slavic Muslim, 0.4% Protestant, 10.8% other

Tourist Season: April through September

Peak Tourist Season: July and August

Currency: Croatian dinar

Population: 10.9 million (2001)

Entry: Visas are required and can be obtained at the border.

Transportation: Serious transportation problems in some regions
resulting from war. Ferry service from Italy gives some
access to southern region of country. Some areas remain unsafe
because of the political situation at present.

Shopping: Common items include peasant handicrafts, embroidered
blouses, gold and silver filigree jewelry, carpets,
leather goods, carved wooden goods, laces, and pottery.


The population is largely Croat with the Serbs the largest minority.
There are some Slovenes, Italians, and Slovaks. The Croats are
mostly Roman Catholics. German and English are widely used
through the country--German because of the number of migrant
workers to Germany in the past, and English because of the popularity
of English in general.

Cultural Hints:

* Shake hands when meeting.

* Single women may be harassed and should avoid sunbathing
and hiking alone.

* A closed hand with the index and little fingers raised is an

* Eating and foods:

Check prices before ordering.
If there is no service charge, tip when paying. Leave tip on
the table.

Food consists of Italian pizza and pasta, seafood on coast,
brodet (mixed fish stewed with rice), mushrooms,
manistra od bobica (beans and fresh maize soup), and
strukle (cottage cheese rolls). Italian-style espresso coffee
is popular.

Tourist Destinations and Attractions

The capital, Zagreb, is a medieval city, on the banks of the Sava River. There are many lovely parks, galleries, museums, and cafes. St. Stephen's Cathedral, built in 1899, has Renaissance pews, marble altars, and a Baroque pulpit. The Baroque Archiepiscopal Palace and sixteenth-century fortifications surround the palace. A number of other churches, such as the St. Catherine's Church (Baroque), Stone Gate, and St. Mark's Church (Gothic, painted-tile roof), have important art works. A number of museums, including the Historical Museum of Croatia, the National History Museum, the City Museum, the Archaeological Museum, and the Ethnographic Museum, recall the history and people of the past and present.

The most important coastal destination is the Dalmatian Coast, which occupies the central 150 miles between the Gulf of Kvarner to the Bay of Kotor and includes the offshore islands. The offshore islands are comparable in beauty to those of Greece. The most important resort is at Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik has beautiful beaches, Renaissance palaces, Venetian-style architecture, old stone streets, and massive city walls of the ancient city. It has been hit hard by the war, and much destruction has occurred, especially to hotels. Three other major cities occupy the Dalmatian Coast and attract tourists. Split is built around a well-preserved fourth-century Roman palace. With its fine Roman ruins and much of the old city wall, Zadar is one of the most beautiful towns on the Adriatic.

Numerous smaller communities and resorts have been built along the Dalmatian Coast, all capitalizing on the beautiful pebble beaches, islands, climate, and clear water. Along the coast and inland there are seven national parks that remain in Croatia from what was formerly Yugoslavia. One park that is important to domestic tourism and should gain in international popularity is Plitvice Lakes. It is midway between Zagreb and Zadar. Accessible either by auto or tour bus, it has sixteen lakes that are connected to each other by waterfalls and are set in a beautiful forest. If the armed conflict can be peacefully resolved, tourism is expected to be the primary source for restoring Croatia's damaged economy.

Bosnia and Herzegovina


Capital: Sarajevo

Government: Democracy

Size: 19,791 square miles (slightly larger than Tennessee)

Language: Serbo-Croatian

Ethnic Division: 38% Muslim, 40% Serb, 22% Croat

Religion: 40% Slavic Muslim, 31% Orthodox, 15% Catholic, 4% Protestant

Tourist Season: April through September

Peak Tourist Season: July and August

Currency: Croatian dinar in ethnic Croat, Yugoslav dinar in other areas

Population: 3.4 million (2001)

Entry: No visa is required unless issued at border.

Transportation: There are direct flights from Rome to

Money: Traveler's checks and credit cards are not readily

Shopping: Common items include peasant handicrafts, embroidered
blouses, gold and silver filigree jewelry, carpets,
leather goods, carved wooden goods, laces, and pottery.


While the civil war supposedly ended in 1996, the location of
Serbs, Croats, and Muslims in the region and the final borders are
yet to be determined. All three groups speak the same language.
It presently appears that most of the territory will be controlled
by Serbs who want to join Yugoslavia to create Greater Serbia.

Physical Characteristics

The terrain is mountainous. It has hot summers and cold winters. The high elevations have short, cool summers and long, severe winters.

Tourism Characteristics

Little can be said concerning tourism to the region.

Tourism Destinations and Attractions

The three cities, Sarajevo, Mostar, and Jajce, were the principal destinations for tourists. Sarajevo, the capital, by the Miljacka River, had 73 mosques. It was ruled by the Turks from the mid-fifteenth century until 1878. Thus, it offered the strongest Turkish flavor of any city in the Balkans. It had picturesque Turkish mosques, markets, and color. However, what will remain after the war is uncertain. Sarajevo was the site of the 1984 Winter Olympic Games. It was shelled by Serbs for nearly two years, with tremendous loss of life and property damage.

The second destination city, Mostar, was founded by the Turks in the fifteenth century on a river crossing. It also offered the visitor a view of Islamic culture with its old quarter, mosques, and Turkish Bridge (destroyed by Serbian shelling in late 1993). Like Sarajevo, it has been badly damaged and is now off-limits to tourists. Jajce is a medieval walled city with cobbled streets and old houses set in a hilly country. It was briefly the capital of liberated Yugoslavia in 1943. Medjugorje was a heavily visited pilgrimage site in the 1980s.



Capital: Sofia

Government: Democratic Republic

Size: 42,823 square miles (a little larger than Virginia)

Language: Bulgarian with some German and French

Ethnic Division: 85.3% Bulgarian, 2.5% Gypsy, 8.5% Turk, and 6% other Eastern European minorities

Religion: 85% Bulgarian Orthodox, 13% Muslim, 2% other

Tourist Season: April through October

Peak Tourist Season: July and August

Currency: Lev (LEV)

Population: 8.1 million (2001)

Entry: Visas not required for visits of less than 30 days.

Transportation: There are direct flights from other European
capitals and North America to Sofia. Rail accommodations are
available to the rest of Europe and the Black Sea resorts near
Varna and Burgas. Sofia has a good public transportation system
with streetcars, trolley-buses, and buses.

Shopping: Items include embroidery, woodcarving, pottery,
leather and fur clothing, blankets, and carpets.


The people are primarily Bulgarian (85 percent). The most important
minority is Turkish. The principal religion is the Bulgarian
Orthodox Church. Other religions include Islam, Roman Catholicism,
Protestantism, and Judaism. Bulgaria's name is derived from
a Turkic people, the Bulgars who originated in the steppe north of
the Caspian Sea. The Slavic people absorbed the invading Turkic
people and were, in general, the precursors of the present-day
Bulgarians. The official language, Bulgarian, is a Slavic language
using Bulgarian Cyrillic. It is very similar to the Russian alphabet.

Cultural Hints:

* The handshake is the form of greeting.

* Nodding your head up and down means yes.

* Nodding your head back and forth means no.

* Eating and foods:

Rest both wrists on the table.

Tip 10 to 15 percent.

Food specialties are lamb, pork, beef, fish, cheese, and
Turkish-type desserts with espresso coffee.

Physical Characteristics

The country is mostly mountains with lowlands in the north and south. The climate is temperate, with cold, damp winters and hot, dry summers.

Tourism Characteristics

The Bulgarian government views tourism as an important source of foreign exchange to modernize and expand their economy. The industry in Bulgaria is small compared with the developed tourist-receiving countries in Europe. Most of its visitors are from the region (Figure 9-17). Most of the accommodation facilities are in beach-resort holiday centers along the Black Sea. Turkey is the major market for Bulgaria, followed by Russia. However, many of the Turks are passing through on their way to Western Europe, mainly Germany. The numbers from the United States are small but are increasing gradually as Bulgaria is a good bargain and has had a peaceful transition from Communism to democracy. Direct nonstop air service was established in 1993 between New York and Sofia. The new private hotels, restaurants, and shops are eager to please tourists from North America. The major purpose of visits are to transit the country. However, for those visiting, holidays and recreation are the main purposes for visiting the country. There is an abundant supply of hotel rooms.


Tourist Destinations and Attractions

The tourist destinations in Bulgaria can be classified into three groups: the Black Sea Coast, the capital city Sofia, and the Valley of the Roses. The Black Sea Coast is the dominant international tourist attraction. Balkantourist, the national tourist organization, developed three modern beach resorts on the Black Sea in combination with the traditional centers of Varna and Burgas. Varna, the largest city on the Black Sea, was founded in the sixth century B.C. by the Greeks. It later became a major trading post in the Roman Empire. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, the Black Sea Coast has numerous spas that are reputed to be beneficial for rheumatism, arthritis, and other joint afflictions. One of the more famous is Pomorye, where mudpacks and salt baths are used for the treatment of arthritis and sciatica. The new resorts of Drouzhba, Albena, Zlatni Piassatsi, and Slunchev Bryag (Sunny Beach) provide foreign tourists all of the amenities for a sea-and-sand vacation experience.



Sofia is an ancient city in a basin near the Balkan Mountains. Culturally the influence of both Roman and Ottoman Turk rule is evident in the architecture (Figure 9-18). The Alexander Nevsky Memorial Church, built in the nineteenth century as a tribute to Russians who liberated the country from the Turks, is one of the most impressive architectural structures. In addition, the Balkan Hotel contains the remains of the fourth-century church of St. George within its courtyard. Several mosques and the archaeological museum contain important relics from the Turkish past with its Islamic influence (Figure 9-19).

The third area that attracts tourists is the Valley of the Roses. This is the premier producing region for the roses from which essentially all the world's attar of roses comes for use in perfumes and soap. During May and June, the scent of the harvesting of millions of roses makes this a unique tourist attraction.


Physical Characteristics

Albania is mostly hills and mountains covered with scrub forests. It is subject to destructive earthquakes and tsunamis. The only navigable river is the Buene (Bojana). The climate is mild with cool, wet winters and dry, hot summers. The interior is cool and rainy.


Capital: Tirane

Government: Nascent democracy

Size: 28,750 square miles (slightly larger than West Virginia)

Language: Albanian (Tosk is official dialect), Greek

Ethnic Division: 95% Albanian, 2% Greeks, 2% other

Religion: 70% Muslim, 20% Albanian Orthodox, 10% Roman Catholic

Tourist Season: May through August

Currency: Lek

Population: 3.4 million (2001)

Customs: Visas are required.

Accommodations: Very limited.

Money: Credit cards and traveler's checks are rarely accepted.

Transportation: Somewhat limited.

Shopping: Common items include black embroidery, linen,
native wood carvings, and rugs.


Ninety-six percent of the people are ethnically Albanian, descendants
of the ancient Illyrians who once occupied much of the
Balkan Peninsula. Today's Albanians are divided into two
groups--the Gegs to the north of the Shkumbin River and the
Tosks to the south. Their differences in physical traits, dialects,
religions, and social customs are distinguishable but not dramatic.
A number of minorities in Albania include Greeks, Vlachs,
Bulgars, Serbs, and Gypsies.

Tourism Characteristics

Tourism under Communism was virtually nonexistent, and Albania was withdrawn from the world. In the 1990s tourism grew slowly. The conflicts in the region have added to the problems of tourism to Albania. Albania has the smallest European tourism market of the region. Europe accounts for some 50 percent of Albania's visitors, with Italy and the United Kingdom the two largest European markets (Figure 9-20). Egypt is the second-largest market, apparently as a result of the Muslim religion, which is dominant in both Albania and Egypt. The main tourist centers include Tirane, Durres (an ancient city), Sarande, and Shkoder. The Roman amphitheater at Durres is one of the largest in Europe. The ancient towns of Apollonia (dating from Roman times) and Berat (known as the "city of a thousand windows"), which is a museumtown with a medieval fortress and mosque, are two of the major historic towns.



Tourism continues to grow in Central Europe both as a result of the increasing standard of living among the residents of the individual countries of the region and because of increasing attempts by most governments in the region to attract tourists from Western Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. The variety of cultures, physical geography, and resorts provide opportunities for tourists at costs below that found in Western Europe. The combination of variety, low cost, and personal safety created by the traditional strong police force in most countries makes these countries increasingly attractive. In the absence of renewed political problems as in Croatia, BosniaHerzegovina, and Yugoslavia, it can be expected that tourism to Central Europe will increase at an even greater rate as the investments in tourism facilities and amenities continue to provide for the tourist.



Relax today as we drive over the Austrian border into some of the
richest agricultural land in Hungary. Fertod is our first stop, where
the mansion of the Princes of Esterhazy stands. Patterned after the
great palace of the French kings, it is called "Magyar Versailles."
Then travel a few miles southwest to the town of Sopron. The composer
Goldmark lived here, and Franz Liszt gave his first concert here as a
child. Enjoy the afternoon sightseeing and exploring the many
noteworthy homes and monuments in Sporan, such as the Storno house and
the Benedictine Church. Then prepare for a delightful evening of
Hungarian goulash and music.


Travel south today to the town of Szombathely, founded by Emperor
Claudius in A.D. 41. Remnants of the Roman era are preserved in the
Garden of Ruins. Enjoy the beauty of the Cathedral and the Bishop's
palace. After lunch, travel farther south near the border of Yugoslavia
to the town of Pecs, home of the first Hungarian university. Enjoy the
evening dining in a quaint Hungarian inn.


In the morning visit Pecs' 1,000-year-old cathedral, an early Christian
cemetery, and a triple-arched underground chapel. Enjoy lunch in a
quaint cafe, then travel northward along lush green countryside toward
the Danube River to the town of Kalocsa, remarkable for its folkloric
tradition and fine embroidery. Time is yours to shop or bask in the
traditions of this country town. Then more beautiful landscape lines
the way to Budapest as we travel up the Danube River. Tonight the
delights of Budapest await you.


The twin cities of Buda and Pest are yours to review from Gellert Hill,
capturing the eight bridges that span the Danube River. Buda is on the
right bank, surrounded by wooded hills, and Pest is on the left bank,
lying on flat land that spreads both east and south. Today visit
Margaret Island, stroll through the well-kept park, and visit several
pools fed by warm springs. To the north visit Castle Hill and step back
in time at the Royal Palace or at Fishermen's Bastion. Capture a
beautiful evening listening to the Budapest Philharmonic.


Today discover rich culture in Budapest as you enjoy St. Stephen's
Basilica, the National Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the
National Gallery. The afternoon is yours to delve deeper into
Hungary's artistic talent or to shop. If shopping, Hungary is best for
pottery, woodcarving, Herend china, embroidery, and lace. In the
evening, enjoy celebrating Hungarian-style with the State Folk


Traveling outside cosmopolitan Budapest, you may spot horses and their
herdsmen in traditional costumes on the way to Eger. The historic town
of Eger lies in a broad valley between two mountains. It is one of the
most interesting towns in Hungary. Tour the Church of Minorities, a
Turkish minaret, the palace of the Archbishop, and the Serb Orthodox
Church. Lower hills around the town are thickly covered with vineyards.
The evening is open to enjoy Hungary's rich folkloric heritage.

Return to Budapest for return flight home.


1. Which Central European countries have the most developed tourism industry? Why?

2. What impact do climate and the physical geography have on tourism to Central Europe?

3. Describe tourism to Bulgaria. What are the major attractions?

4. Describe the attractions and major markets for Slovenia and Croatia.

5. How are the countries of Central Europe distinct geographically and as tourism destinations from Western Europe?

6. What role does the Danube play in Central and Eastern Europe?

7. Describe tourism to Hungary.

8. If you had to select one country to visit that would give you the greatest diversity, which Central European or Baltic country would you select? Justify your answer.


1. Assume that peace will come to the Balkan region soon. If that occurs which country in the Balkan region would have the greatest influx of tourists? Why?

2. Which combination of four countries in Central Europe and the Balkan States would you suggest a tourist visit to experience the greatest diversity (physically and culturally)? Justify your answer.

3. Albania would like to attract more European tourists. Prepare a tourism plan for them that would demonstrate how they might be able increase their visitors from Europe.

4. Which region within Central Europe and the Balkan States would you feel has the greatest problems with seasonality? Why?

5. Which country of the region may have the most increase in day visitors over the next few years? Why?

INTERNET WEB SITE A good source for information on Central Europe and the Balkan States.

Through Visitors' Eyes: Cultural Odyssey

Poland to Prague

Sharon and Nelson Helm


We made arrangements with the Orbis office in the hotel for a morning tour of Gdansk ($16 each) including an organ recital on an 8,000-pipe organ in a former Cistercian abbey in the suburb of Oliwa. The tour itself was with a guide using his nearly new small Fiat for just the two of us.

Among the other highlights of the tour were Gdansk's huge Church of Our Lady, the largest Gothic brick church in Poland (capable of holding 25,000 people); the Old Crane, which is a 1443 vintage dock house; the seventeenth-century Golden Gate entrance to the old city, and the Three Crosses Monument dedicated to the shipyard workers who were killed in the civil disturbances of 1970, leading to Poland's drive to democracy.


On the road to Warsaw, we took a route by the city of Malbork to get a picture of the Castle of the Teutonic Knights. The magnificent castle dates back to 1308 and supposedly is one of the most impressive fortresses in Europe.

The next morning we signed up for a tour of Warsaw ($18 each); it took about five hours and was very good.

Included were the old-town (where we saw a twenty-minute film showing the almost-total destruction of Warsaw by the Nazis), the many important statues on the Royal Road, Chopin Park, the Polish "White House," the Opera House, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with its hourly changing of the guard and the impressive Wilanow Palace, still used for important state functions.

On Friday evening we went to a terrific folklore dinner show at the Europejske Hotel; it cost about $27 for two.


The 200-mile drive to Krakow passed quickly and we pulled into the parking lot of the Hotel Cracovia around noon.

During the drive, we went through the city of Czestochowa. This city is the pilgrimage destination of thousands on Assumption Day (August 15) paying homage to the famous Black Madonna, an icon located in a monastery there.

An inquiry at the Orbis office in the hotel resulted in our attending a concert that evening of organ and choir music in a Benedictine abbey. The abbey was founded in 1044 and is located in the small village of Tyniec about 18 kilometers south-west of the city. Cost of the tickets for this excellent program was about 72 cents each!

After the concert we returned to our hotel, then walked along the Vistula River and took a few pictures of Wawel Castle, which was begun in the fourteenth century and was the residence of many Polish kings. Along the banks of the river were several tables where the men of the city were spending their leisurely evening hours playing chess.

The next morning, after enjoying a large buffet breakfast, we walked about five minutes to the old center of town.

Where the original walls once stood there now is a lovely green belt surrounding the old town. There were large trees and landscaping with benches and paved walks; it was obviously a popular location for strollers and a place to meet friends.

Krakow sustained only minimal damage during the war, so it is a treasure of seven centuries of Polish architecture. Sadly, what the war did not do is now being done by the high level of industrial air pollutants from nearby factories in the area. It still is a joy to wander around in the city, however.

Time for Shopping

Krakow's Market Square is the largest medieval town square in Europe. In the center is the Sukiennice, or Cloth Hall. This 328-foot-long structure is crammed full of small, beautiful folkart and craft shops.

We also found many shops in Krakow's old town full of crystal, lace blouses, leather goods and other items. We had not found much to purchase thus far in Poland, so this city seemed like a jackpot.


We reluctantly left Krakow for the resort city of Zakopane in the High Tatra Mountains of southwest Poland. In driving just 60 miles, the scenery changed very rapidly from a flat plain to a scenic mountain setting.

It was very obvious that this part of Poland has more wealth. The single-family homes have a multistory design with steep roofs and a foundation and lower level that use large native stones with a very distinctive appearance.

The town was full of families on holiday; however, we heard no English spoken on the streets. Once again there were good bargains in crystal and we could not resist a few more items.


From Zakopane we headed northwest, paralleling the Czech border, toward the small town of Paczkow, which Fodor's described as "a magnificent little town, a kind of Polish Carcassonne, completely ringed by medieval walls with towers and bastions."

After a long day's drive on many secondary but good roads with much more traffic than anticipated we arrived at Paczkow.

What a disappointment! Yes, there were some walls and a few towers, but to compare this to the magnificent fortress of southern France was a farce!

The only restaurant in town, surprisingly, was named Carcassonne, but it served only beer and soft drinks.

A City for Walking

Prague is a lovely city that must be enjoyed by walking. The flavor of several centuries of culture surrounds you. The buildings are covered by wall paintings, sculpture, ornate windows and unusual rooflines.

There are beautiful domes, spires, steeples and statues everywhere you look, and all of this is enhanced by parks, green belts and an untold number of flowers--an exquisite feast for the eyes.

The city also is known for its music and there usually are several events from which to choose each evening. If you want to attend a concert or opera in the Smetana Theater, plan ahead of time as tickets are sold out very quickly.

We did attend two concerts: one an organ soloist and the other an organ with soprano soloist as well as a trumpet soloist. Both were very good and the tickets were only $3 and $4 per person.

Both of these concerts were in churches, one a ten-minute walk from the apartment across the Charles Bridge and the other just around the corner from the apartment. Tickets were available at the American Hospitality Center.

We did spend a morning at the Prague Castle in the Hradcany district wandering through the squares and around the towering Gothic spires of the St. Vitus Cathedral. We also spent some time on the Charles Bridge with hundreds of others admiring its statues and browsing among the assorted vendors all across its span of the Vltava River.

The main attraction, of course, was the splendid buildings of Stare Mesto and the old town square where it was easy to spend an afternoon just taking, in the atmosphere of the surroundings and a superb Czech beer as well.

Another location we visited was the old Jewish quarter with its fifteenth- to eighteenth-century cemetery. The stones there are packed in like many slices of a spilled loaf of bread.

We used the excellent and inexpensive Prague underground to go from the National Museum at the upper end of Wenceslas Square to the Hradcany district. We had no sooner begun looking at the map and fare chart when a man offered to help us. He was very friendly and seemed justifiably proud of his city.

Worth a Return

All in all, we heartily recommend independent travel to these two friendly and interesting countries.

Would you believe it? We are planning to include Krakow and Prague on our next itinerary!

Source: International Travel News, September 1992, pp. 5-8, 46-49.
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Publication:Geography of Travel & Tourism, 4th ed.
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Previous Article:Chapter 8 Geography and tourism in Southern Europe.
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