Balkan Vacation - Best Balkan Tours - Adriatic DMC

10 day tour on the theme of Ottoman art and architecture. This unique land tour from Sofia to Sarajevo was a once in a lifetime trip. Click here for more info!

For a history and culture buff, a trip to the Balkans in the company of a scholar is the ultimate way to learn first-hand about this fascinating region and its past, as well as making for a memorable vacation.

So, when Academic Arrangements Abroad contacted us for help with the logistics on a ten-day tour on the theme of Ottoman art and architecture, we relished the challenge.

Our tour leader Nikolina Matusic traveled with the group, ensuring their trip was a once in a lifetime experience. Here, she shares a taste of this bespoke land tour that took in five countries and a host of historic sites.

Preparing for a group of this kind involves a lot of research, expert local knowledge and to the minute planning. Thankfully for Adriatic DMC this is second nature.

We were privileged to be joined by The Met’s Associate Curator in the Department of Islamic Art, Deniz Beyazit who specializes in Medieval Islamic and Ottoman art and architecture. The route was carefully selected to cover the towns and areas of greatest significance to the theme, with as little travel time as possible.

The first three days took us to Bulgaria and Macedonia’s capital cities; Sofia and Skopje. Deniz’ first of three lectures during the tour serving as an introduction to the history and material culture of the Balkans.

Days 4, 5 and 6 were reserved for further exploration of Macedonia and Albania. We headed to the stunning Lake Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and then on to Albania’s capital Tirana and Shkodra, one of the oldest settlements in the Balkans.

Afterwards, we moved on to Montenegro where the beautiful Porto Montenegro in Tivat was our base and the location for Deniz’s second lecture, Ottoman architecture in the 16th century.  Exploring the medieval town of Kotor and enjoying a scenic cruise along Kotor Bay was a highlight of the trip with many remarking that the vistas were breathtaking. Seeing enchanting Perast town and the picturesque Our Lady of the Rocks islet rounded the day off perfectly.

The next morning’s drive took us from Tivat to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina to see the city’s most memorable landmark, the Stari Most bridge, an impressive example of Ottoman engineering. The afternoon was reserved for two special access visits; the 16th century Karadozbegova Mosque and an Ottoman era home before heading to Sarajevo.

Our walking tour of Sarajevo took in highlights such as Gazi Husrev-Bey Mosque, the Moorish-style Vijecnica (City Hall) and the Jewish Museum. Many of the group continued on to the famous Bascarsija (Bazaar) after lunch, to experience the beating heart of the city.

Our final day of the trip was a busy one with visits to the Careva Dzamija (the Emperor’s Mosque) and the 18th century Svrzo’s House Museum before the farewell dinner in a restaurant offering panoramic views of the Old Town.

Without a doubt, this trip will stay with me for a long time to come. The places we visited, their fascinating stories and their incredible beauty all created a rich painting of the Balkans that will forever be in my mind.

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