The article was conceived as a guided tour through the Balkan Peninsula including descriptions of two selected towns from Hungary, Croatia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It gives a summary of Western perceptions of the Balkan towns as noted by Western Europeans who visited the area in different periods from the seventeenth century onwards. The civilization they found and described there was a part of an entity encompassing the material and spiritual culture of urban life in the Near East. During the nineteenth century the Balkans underwent major political changes and contemporary travellers' reports were rich with observations about the process of ‘Europeanization’ of the Balkan towns. During the process which meant nationalism and fragmentation in what had been a fairly uniform culture area, paradoxically, ‘Balkanization’ was the final result.