Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

South East Europe

Via Egnatia


Via Egnatia

Via Egnatia is an ancient road, built around 146 BC, during the Roman Empire, to facilitate the communication between Rome and Constantinople (present Istanbul), between East and West. The corridor connects the Adriatic coast with the Black and the Aegean Sea, passing through Albania, FYR of Macedonia, Greece and Turkey.
Via Egnatia is mainly related to cultural influences, reflecting the exchange of faith and knowledge. It plays strategic role since ancient times till nowadays as s specific conductor of cultural influence and information from West to East and from East to West.
Since the 2nd century the cultural corridor has been named by the Roman proconsul Gnaios Egnatios. Widened several times, Via Egnatia remained one of the most important roads in the Byzantine empire, connecting Durrеs to Lychnidos (Ohrid), Thessalonica (Thessaloniki), Adrianople (Edirne) and reaching Constantinople (Istanbul). From the ancient town on the Bosporus, along the spiritual and cultural axis began the spreading of Orthodox Christianity in South East Europe, and later on – of monkshood. This is the eternal road of the Orthodox Christianity, alive until present days, strewed with monasteries and churches. Via Egnatia is an important branch of the pilgrims’ road from the British Isles and France to Rome - Via Francigena, leading, according to Prof. Renato Stopani, the European pilgrims to Jerusalem. Interesting is the fact that the axis of the Route of the Castilian Language and its Expansion in the Mediterranean - the Sephardic Routes, to a great extent repeats the Via Egnatia route. This emphasizes again the importance of Via Egnatia as one of the most significant religious axes in Europe.
Along the cultural corridor, crossing South East Europe in west-east direction, one could notice outstanding cultural centres. Starting from the Adriatic coast and the historical town of Durres, passing by the monasteries of southern Albania, through the big monastery agglomeration around the Ohrid lake (FYR of Macedonia), the ancient Christian and Byzantine temples of Thessaloniki and monasteries on the Holy Mount Athos, Mount Papikion – one of the most important monastery centres in Byzantine, the corridor reached Constantinople (Istanbul) – the source of spreading of the Orthodox religion in South East Europe. Via Egnatia is a collective cultural corridor, crossed by the axis of the East trans-Balkan road (in Komotini – close to Mount Papikion) – a corridor uniting the great monastery and literary centres of South East Europe in north-south direction, and also by the cultural corridor Sofia-Ohrid, connecting the monastery agglomerations of Metohia and the ones around Sofia.

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