I travelled through all the countries of the former Yugoslavia in my journey across Europe.
I travelled through Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, and then finally Macedonia. These independent nations were all united under the communist leadership of Joseph Tito, but after his death in the 1980’s, the fragile relationships between these complicated regions and people began to unravel, until eventually, Yugoslavia disintegrated, at times violently. During my journey through the Balkans, I witnessed the shared history, culture and languages of these countries, but I also saw the differences that ultimately forced them all apart.
Here are a few of the things I saw during my journey across the former Yugoslavia.
Belgrade, Serbia. The ruins of government buildings bombed by NATO during the Kosovo crisis of 1999 have been left in disarray as a stark reminder of the war.
Joseph Tito, the benevolent dictator, was the man who held Yugoslavia together. His cigar case is on display in his Belgrade Mausoleum, The House of Flowers.
Life on the river. Belgrade lies on the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers, an integral position in Europe and the Balkans.
In Zagreb, Croatia, The Museum of Broken Relationships displays the frank stories of lovers from around the world. It could also be a tragic epithet to the break up of Yugoslavia.
Zagreb, Croatia. In the capital, the markets are bustling with fresh produce for sale.
Dubrovnik, Croatia. The Walled City is a magnet for tourists. Its medieval city centre is a maze of alleyways and fortifications. Croatian tourism is on the rise, in no small part thanks to Dubrovnik.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. While neighbouring Croatia accelerates away from the rest of the Balkans, Bosnia is still suffering from the tragedy of its ethnic conflict in the 1990’s which wrought havoc. A dog lounges in the sun amongst the graves of Bosnians killed by Serbians during the Siege of Sarajevo.
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. A sign on the left urges travellers to not forget what happened here. Croatian forces destroyed the ancient Ottoman Bridge, now reconstructed across the river, during their siege and destruction of the city.
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Graffiti on a destroyed building tells an honest truth of life. Mostar still lies in ruins years after the war, but the people here are slowly turning things around.
Kotor, Montenegro. A cruise ship discourages its passengers in the Bay of Kotor. Montenegro only separated from Serbia in 2006, now they are attempting to make full use of their beautiful coastline to lure in the tourist money.
Durmitor, Montenegro. The country has a rugged, startling interior which is still relatively untouched. This is the Durmitor National Park.
Durmitor, Montenegro. Just outside the national park, cars are disintegrating along the roadside as enterprising locals take all they can as scrap.
Podgorica, Montenegro. The capital of Montenegro is rather unappealing to look at, but it’s still a lively, growing metropolis.
Prizren, Kosovo. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, after years of turmoil. This Serbian Orthodox Church was destroyed during the 1999 war, when the Serb population was forcibly evicted from the city of Prizren.
Pristina, Kosovo. A man gets his shoes shined next to the Albanian flag in Kosovo’s capital Pristina. Kosovars are mostly of ethnic Albanian origin, despite the fact that for years they were ruled from Serbian Belgrade.
Pristina, Kosovo. This newborn nation is still not fully recognised at the UN, but they are proud of their independence.
Skopje, Macedonia. A melting pot of cultures and faiths, life goes on in the Old Muslim Bazaar in Skopje.
Skopje, Macedonia. The Macedonia lion stands guard over one of Skopje’s many bridges, with the ancient city fortress towering on the hill above the Macedonian capital.
All Photos Property of Richard Collett
For more Photos From The Road then take a look at The Jungles of Borneo.