What to visit and see in Macedonia

Skopje – Best from the region

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If you have not visited Skopje in the last few years, it is very likely that you have a wrong picture of how it actually looks like today. Macedonia’s biggest city is a strange combination of feelings and opinions among travelers, but definitely will not keep you indifferent. Whether it’s the Skopje 2014 project, the multi-ethnicity present here or the hospitality of the membership, you will definitely come home with a bunch of impressions and stories.

You are in Skopje. Free wandering in the streets without any specific plan can be an exciting way to get to know the city, where you let him surprise you to unannouncedly discover his charms that are in front of you. However, if you do not have much time and want to make the most of your time and quality in Skopje, we offer you a guide to finding and an alternative guide through Skopje.

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Stobi the archaeological site

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Stobi (mod. Gradsko) was an ancient town of Paionia, later conquered by Macedon, and later still incorporated into the Roman province of Macedonia Salutaris (now in the Republic of Macedonia). It is located on the main road that leads from the Danube to the Aegean Sea and is considered by many to be the most famous archaeological site in the Republic of Macedonia. Stobi was built where the Crna river joins the Vardar river, making it important strategically as a center for both trade and warfare.

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Ohrid Macedonia

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Ohrid is a magnificent city of the beautiful southwestern part of Macedonia and the leading summer tourist center of the country, with about 42,000 inhabitants, which they say is the soul of the Balkans and certainly the cradle of Slovene literacy. The city of Ohrid is located on the shores of Lake Ohrid, about 170 km from Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. Thanks to its outstanding natural beauty, rich historical and cultural heritage, since 1979, Ohrid has been a part of UNESCO’s world cultural heritage. Lake Ohrid occupies a picturesque area of about 350 km2 and is known for its crystal clear water, which is transparent to a depth of 22 meters, while the total depth of the Ohrid Lake is 286 meters. The impeccably clear and clean water of the Ohrid Lake, with the tranquil silence of the mountain environment of exceptional beauty, attracts visitors from prehistoric times.

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Church of St. John at Kaneo – Ohrid, Macedonia

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This unique, tiny church is located on one of the most beautiful parts of the Ohrid Lake shore, on a high wall with a view of the former settlement, which today is a fishing and tourist village Kaneo. The church of St. John in Ohrid was built in the last decades of the 13th century and is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Archaeologists believe that the church of St. John Bogoslo Kaneo in Ohrid was built before the rise of the Ottoman Empire, most probably in the 13th century. According to its architecture, the church of St. John Bogoslo Kaneo belongs to medieval buildings, whose builders have achieved an extremely successful combination of Byzantine and Armenian architectural elements. The Church of St. John Kaneo was built of brick and stone, in the form of a cross inscribed on a rectangular base. The Church of St. John Bogoslov in Kane is one of the features of ancient Ohrid and the favorite symphony of the whole city, as well as Macedonia.

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Statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje

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A monument that is officially called “The Warrior on a Horse”, and very similar to Alexander Makedonski on the Bukefal horse, was set up today in the center of Skopje. The monument is 28 meters tall, and it is placed on a 10-meter-long stand. The monument occupies a central place on the new “Square of Macedonia” and is the highest such monument in general. the building of a monument in a foundry in Florence cost 9.4 million euros. This is a government project in which new buildings are being built around the Vardar and it is placing more than 30 monuments to personalities from Macedonian history. Setting up the monument prompted the criticism of the official Athens and Greek media who consider Macedonia to be an ancient Greek history and estimate that it is a provocation during the negotiations on the settlement of the dispute between the two neighbors over the name of Macedonia. The Macedonian authorities did not comment on those Greek remarks. The official position of the authorities in Skopje is that Aleksandar Makedonski is part of Macedonian history.

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Kurbinovo Church of St. Georgi (George)

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In the area of Lake Prespa, the most interesting Christian Orthodox temple is the Church of St. Georgi (George) in the village of Kurbinovo (uphill, few kilometers from the lake). Frescoes in this church were painted in 1191. That was the time when Byzantine Empire ruled teritory of present Republic of Macedonia, the time after the reign of Tzar Samuil, the first Slavo-Macedonian Emperor, and the founder of the first medieval Slavo-Macedonian state.This is a very simple church by its shape and dimensions, yet very important from spiritual and cultural point of view.

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Bargala was a fortified town constructed between 4th and 6th centuries AD a period spanning Late Antiquity and Early Byzantium. Thanks to the archaeological excavation, today we can see a basilica, trade quarters, water tank, bath, a fortification system with an impressive main gate and a infrastructure.

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Veljusa – Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos Eleusa

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The most impressive encounter with this monastery is at daybreak. If you happened to set forth from Strumica by car half an hour before sunrise, after having driven some ten kilometres to the northwest of the city, you already climb up the winding narrow road above the Village of Veljusa , and there… you find yourself in front of the monastery gate. Around you there is the rural atmosphere of a Macedonian village that slowly wakes up. Dogs barking and roosters; smell of country yards and hen-houses, of chimneys and firewood that bring to mind images of breakfast being prepared. The area does not abound in vegetation. Nothing that would especially attract a new-comer’s attention at his first visit here. You are much too close to the monastery as to see it. Knowing not what is on the other side, you cautiously step in through the gate… and then everything changes. All you hear is the echo of your footsteps on the stony path and the wind in the crowns of the trees, while in amazement you feel the gentle eastern light and the peace this place breathes with as they tame you. An oasis… of silence. Greenery bordered with flower-beds and roses. Recently planted trees. With great care and love laid out park, in which dominate the ancient church and several newly built monastery facilities in the characteristic Macedonian-Byzantine style of construction ? dressed stone and brick. An elevated sight. The monastery complex is situated on a rocky plateau above Veljusa and the Strumica Valley . Behind the mountain ridges of Ogra?den the sun rises. The clock tower shows the time that passes down there in the world, and here ? it stops, in a ‘momentum towards Eternity’. And while you wonder if you were all alone in this celestial sight, quietly opens the gate of the monastic part and several nuns soundlessly go down the steps toward the entrance into the church. Spontaneously you follow them and you are already inside… It is time for Liturgy.

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St. John Bigorski – dedicated to Saint John the Baptist

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The monastery church is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. According to the monastery’s 1833 chronicle, it was built in 1020 by Archbishop Jovan. The Ottomans destroyed the monastery in the XVI century. The monastery was restored in 1743 by the monk Ilarion, who also built several monk cells. Later, in the period from 1812 to 1825 the monastery was expanded by archimandrite Arsenius. Among the donors there is also a mention of a monk Iov, recognized by some researchers as the future educator Joakim Krcovski. One of the most valuable treasures of the monastery is the iconostasis created by Petre Filipovski Garkata and Makarie Frckovski from the nearby village of Gari. This iconostasis is considered one of the most beautiful and most valuable wood-carved iconostasis in the Orthodox religion. Another valuable monastery treasure is an icon dating from 1020 with supposedly miraculous healing power.

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Lake Prespa – Resort Pretor

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Lake Prespa is the second largest lake in the Republic of Macedonia. It covers an area of 294 km sq., with a maximum depth of 54 meters. Lake Prespa is encircled by mountains and it offers wonderful views. The water temperature in summer ranges from 18 to 24? C. Lake Prespa attracts lot of tourists from all around the world. Some of the more popular summer resorts are:
Pretor A tourist centre which has developed rather quickly during the last few years. Camping places as well as vacation houses exist there.
Otesevo This summer resort is located on the western side of the lake, 18 km from Resen. A number of four star hotels have been built providing tourists with excellent accommodation. The camping site “Otesevo” on Mt. Galicica offers camping enthusiasts great scenery. Different types of entertainment are organised during day and night time. There are a number of night clubs and cafe’s for the young at heart or you can just go for a romantic walk on the beach.
Carina Ranges second in size of all summer resorts at lake Prespa, 20 km from Resen. Beside good accommodation in new buildings, the summer resort provides places for sport leisure and recreation. A newly built modern equipped auto-camp is located between Carina and Otesevo.

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Heraklea Linkestis – Arheolishi locality

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Heraclea Linkestis is one of the most important ancient cities in Macedonia. The city has been in existence for over a millennium. It was founded in the middle of the 4th century BC. Filip II Macedonian as an important strategic point.

In the middle of the 2nd century BC, the Romans conquered Macedonia and destroyed its political power, and then turned into a provincial divided into four areas. In spite of this situation, Heraclea, which belonged to the fourth zone in the Roman period and during that period, experienced a garden of prosperity. This is primarily due to the construction of the road through Egnatia, on which this city was an important station.

In the early Christian period (IV-VI century), Heraclea was the bishop’s seat. Some of his bishops were noticed in the acts of several church councils. Thus, Bishop Euagrius is mentioned in the acts of the convention held in Serdica in 343, Bishop Kuintilius at the council in Ephesus in 449, and the bishop of Beninus in Constantinople in 553. In the early Christian period they gave the buildings of the Small and the Great Basilica and the Episcopal Residence and the Cemetery Basilica with a necropolis outside the city walls. Life in Heraclea, as in many other ancient cities, dies at the end of the 6th century.

According to historical sources, during the transition from the 6th to the 7th century, Slovene tribes inhabit this region.

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Millennium Cross on Vodno

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Millennium Cross is one of the newest symbols of Skopje. It is 67 metters high and 46 metters wide. It was build during 2002, and finished in August 2002. This Cross was build by Macedonian Orthodox Church in order to celebrate 2000 years of Christianity in the World and on Macedonian soil. It was constructed and placed on the highest point on Vodno mountain, a place that for centuries was known as place where Cross exists. Most of the time during Ottoman`s rule in Macedonia (14-20 century) there was a small cross on this place, so Turkish and local Macedonians called it “Krstovar” (place where there is a cross).

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