Since time immemorial, Eastern Europe has been crossed
by major trade routes to Russia, Central Asia and the Near
East. Market towns grew rich from this commerce, and
their streets and squares were lined with fine architecture.
Some trad ing towns, such as Cracow in Poland, became,
for a time, the seat of royal dynasties and the centre of
political power before being side lined by history. Others,
notably the prom inent Baltic ports of Rīga and Tallinn,
spent centuries on the fringes of large empires before
finally emerging as the capitals of independent states.
26 EASTERN AND CENTRAL EUROPE AT A GLANCE
The capital of Poland’s
medieval kings and the site of
the biggest mar ket square in
Europe, Cracow is packed with
buildings from the medi eval
and Renaissance periods.
An important trading centre in the Ottoman
Empire, Sarajevo has, over the centuries, been
home to Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic and
Jewish communities, all of whom have left their
striking architectural imprint on the city.
The Adriatic port of
Dubrovnik, in Croatia,
was an independent
city-state that thrived
on trade with the
Ottoman Empire. The
Baroque Old Town,
surrounded by stout
defensive walls, has
been well preserved.
The Slovenian capital is rich in
Baroque churches and red-tiled
mansions. The tree-lined banks of
the Ljubljanica river provide the
perfect setting for a stroll.