Balkan Peninsula


October 19, 2021

The Balkan Peninsula, or more simply the Balkans, is also a cultural area located in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. The peninsula is named after the Balkan Mountains that stretch from the Serbian-Bulgarian border to the Black Sea. The Balkan Peninsula is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea in the southwest, the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas in the south, the Aegean and Marmara Seas in the southeast while the Black Sea in the east. The highest peak of the peninsula is Musala, 2,925 m high, located on the Rila Mountains.

Origin of the name


In Turkish, Balkan means "wreath of forested mountains" (balkan), while in Bulgarian, Balkan means "mountain" (undefined). Another possible etymology is related to the Persian word balk, which means "swamp" with the addition of the Turkish suffix -an, "swamp forest". A less popular hypothesis of etymology is that the name is derived from the Persian word Balā-Khāna meaning “great high house”.

Historical names

Classical Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

From classical antiquity to the Middle Ages, the local Thracians used the name Hemus for the Balkan Mountains. According to Greek mythology, the Thracian king Hemus turned the mountain Zeus into a mountain to punish him, and the mountain got its name. A return name scheme has also been proposed. D. Dechev believes that Hemus (Greek: Αἷμος) originated from the Thracian word * saimon, which means ‘mountain ridge’. The third possibility is that Hemus (Greek Αἵμος) comes from the Greek word hema (Greek αἵμα) which means ‘blood’. The myth refers to the fight between the god Zeus and the titan Typhon. Zeus wounded Typhon with lightning and Typhon's blood fell on the mountain, whence the mountain got its name.

Late Middle Ages and Ottoman Age

The oldest mention of the name is on the Arabic map from the beginning of the 14th century, in which the Helm Mountains are called the Balkans. The first confirmed time in which the name Balkan was used in the West for the mountain massif in Bulgaria is a letter from 1490 sent by the Italian humanist and writer Filip Kalimah to Pope Innocent VIII. The first Ottoman mention was documented in 1565. Prior to that, there was no other documented use of the word referring to the area, although other Turkish tribes had already settled or passed through the peninsula. There is also a claim about early Bulgarian

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