North Macedonia

The Republic of North Macedonia is small, warm, sunny and beautiful Southeast European country, south of Serbia and north of Greece and west of Bulgaria. North Macedonia is one of the hidden gems of the former republic of Yugoslavia that contains a great cultural, historical – geographical value which offers its visitors a unique blend of natural wonders, traditions and cultures, as well as long tradition of unrivaled hospitality.

North Macedonia is a natural paradise of mountains, fantastic lakes and rivers, where life moves to a different rhythm, amid the sprawling grandeur of rich historical treasures and idyllic villages that have remained practically unchanged for centuries. Wonderful mountains of North Macedonia are exceptional destinations for hiking, suitable for fit and active people with some hiking experience, but also for hikers with good level of fitness who like long and steep ascents and descents, and rugged terrains.

North Macedonia’s geographical and cultural position as the bridge between East and West, and the crossroads between the Christian Europe and the mystical Orient, is attested to today in its inhabitants featuring fascinatingly deep spiritual roots. The importance of North Macedonia as the state and historical-geographical area is in its strategic position. North Macedonia is together with Serbia, the center of the Balkan Peninsula. The former Yugoslav republic, and the present state of North Macedonia is artificial creation of communism. Since the beginning of time Macedonia was part of Serbia, as was the whole territory of Greece in the early past. It was not the Macedonians /the Serbs/ who stole the name of the present Macedonia, but the Greeks had stolen the land from the Macedonians – the Serbs. There are evidences on the Serb population in Macedonia in the 2nd millennia BC that testify on hidden cultural and historical heritage and truths about the ancient Serbs. Those truths are interwoven in the lyric songs of the Macedonian people that have been recorded in Skopje, Prilep, Ohrid, Kumanovo…. Knowing that the Turkish rule will be over and removed from the Balkans, the European countries and the Vatican decided to create a non-Serb nation, to establish a non-Serb state and to proclaim a non-Serb Macedonian Orthodox Church from the Serbs in Macedonia. The Serbian state authorities and the Serbian intellectuals did not prevent this, but assisted in performance of this plan in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, by creation of the Vardar Banovina and and the Republic of Macedonia within the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia.

Although just a little country, North Macedonia is a true cradle of culture, holding several antique theaters, thousand of Medieval Monasteries and well preserved Byzantine churches and over 200 Ottoman mosques, in addition to the remains from the early’ Christian and Stone Age and even earlier periods of human civilization. Alexander the Great of Macedonia was one of the greatest army commanders in history, and with some 43,000 infantry and 5,500 cavalry had changed the face of Europe and Asia forever when created an empire that stretched from the Adriatic Sea to India and Egypt. The Illyrian Paionians, Dardanians and Taulantii, the Thracian Odrysai, Getai and Triballi, together with the prosperous West Pontic Greek cities, all acknowledged the sovereignty of the Phillip II of Macedon and his son Alexander who had established loose personal hegemony over much of the Balkans. In 1977 were excavated spectacular golden tomb that contained earthen remains of several humans of the ancient Macedonian royal family. It was ascertained that in one of the coffins of the royal mausoleum 1 there were remains of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, while in the tomb 2 some relatives of Alexander the Great, like the King Arideus and his wife Euridice. When the archaeologist Manolis Andronikos started excavations of the mausoleums in Vergina in 1977 he had discovered that four of the tombs were not opened for long time and that they include astonishingly rich treasury. Philip II – Filip II was the 18th king of Macedonia /359-336 BC/. He restored the internal peace to his state and conquered the whole Greece in military and diplomatic ways, when he had established foundations for the further extentions which were performed by his son Alexander the Great. Philip II – Filip II is described as the powerful king with complicated love life, as he married some 5 to 7 wives, that caused mess in heredity. Filip II – Philip II was killed in 336 BC at the wedding ceremony of his daughter, most probably by the order of his former wife Olympia. Alexander the Great inherited the throne from his father and became king.

North Macedonia’s cultural richness is expressed in its archaeological legacy of Heraclea, Stobi and Skupi, strewn with amphitheaters and temples, and decorated with intricate mosaics and frescoes. Positioned on the old Roman caravan road Via Egnatia the area of present day North Macedonia provided inspiration for artists and scholars who created magnificent works of art and learning that were to become a glorious legacy for the entire world. UNESCO has recognized the special character of this gorgeous country by designating Ohrid Lake and the City of Ohrid as one of the natural and cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

North Macedonia features 3 national parks, 10 special reservations, 2 regions with exceptional natural beauty, 48 kinds of birds, 55 monuments of nature and 3 memorial monuments of nature, 9 strict natural reservations, 18 reservations for scientific research, 15 regions with special natural features, 25 characteristic landscapes, 17 special natural reservations, 150 distinctive vegetative kinds, 63 vegetative kinds in groups, 45 smaller groups, vegetative types in certain areas and 45 vegetative kinds cultivated in the urban and suburban areas, 247 animal kinds out of which 218 birds, 9 insects, 4 reptiles, 13 reptiles, 152 monuments of nature, out of which 24 geological and mineralogical- petro-graphic 19 geomorphologic, 77 hydro-graphic, 32 botanical, and 24 memorial.

Villagers in North Macedonia are known for tranquil atmosphere, and unique well-preserved crafts skills as woodcarving and filigree workshops and weaving colorful traditional costumes, rugs, blankets and carpets. In old bazaars (street markets) of North Macedonia in the larger cities, one comes across dozens of artisans which include small goldsmith and silversmith shops run by various local craftsmen and selling beautiful, delicate jewelry; stomnari, or urn-makers, who still produce glazed terracotta utensils such as urns, pitchers, cups, and bowls; and Asian-style carpet shops.

Though mostly mountainous, North Macedonia also encompassed the valleys of the Bistrica (Halijakmon), Vardar (Axios) and Struma rivers, all of which drain into the Aegean Sea. North Macedonia as also known as the Vardar Macedonia named after the Vardar River which flows almost the entire length of the country and makes its longest river. The spring of the Vardar river is one of the greatest natural beauties of the Gostivar region. There, near the Vrutok village, at an altitude of 683 meters, from the base of the mountain Sharr rises the Vardar river, and from the spring the riverbed widens. Vardar river passes through Gostivar, then the Derven canyon Skopje, Veles, Demir Kapija canyon, and crosses the Greek border near Gevgelija, Polykastro (Macedonian: Rugunovec) and Axioupoli (“town on the Axiós – town of Vardar”), before flowing into the Aegean Sea in Central Macedonia west of Salonica (Macedonian: Thessaloniki – Solun) in northern Greece (Aegean Macedonia).

In antiquity the area around the Erigon river – present Crna Reka River or Black River, used to have name of Peonia with the first known capital of Bylazora or Vilazora, the present Veles. Strabo records the Erigon River which springs in the Illyrian mountains and flows through the areas of Lynkesta, Bryga, Deuriopa and Pelagona, to receives the tributaries of Osphagos and Bevus, and joins the Axios river by Stobi. The Illyrian tribe of Peones, recognized and recorded by Homer, settled possibly in this area which Strabo calls as Amphaxitis, that would literary mean our expression of Povardarje. Peones weiged war with the Pelagon tribe that originally lived in the area around the Crna Reka River, and Pelagon tribe settled in the southern area known as Pelagonia. The Vardar river valley has given its name to the vardháris or vardarec, a northerly prevailing ravine wind which blows down the length of the valley to bring cold conditions to the Thessaloniki area of Greece. Vardarec wind occurs when atmospheric pressure over eastern Europe is higher than over the Aegean Sea, as is often the case in winter or almost always in the Demir Kapija area.

For the local people of different parts of North Macedonia, waterfalls are places where religious holidays are traditionally celebrated, where illnesses are healed, where winter is bid farewell and spring welcome. Believed it or not, there are about 150 waterfalls in North Macedonia ! The highest one is on mountain Korab. It is 138 meters high and is located under the top of Mal Korab, near the former village Zuznje. Hidden in the deepest forests which cover 44% territory of North Macedonia, visited only by the bravest and the most persistent nature lovers, the North Macedonian waterfalls may provide an unique event and adventure. There are waterfalls on the mountains Korab, Shara, Jablanica, but the most visited are the waterfall in Smolare and Koleshino, at the gorgeous and steep slopes of the mountain Belasica. At the border between North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece, at 650 meters above the see level the Smolare waterfall is located. Smolare waterfall is one of the biggest waterfalls on Belasica Mountain, where the water falls from the rocks at a height of 35-40 meters. The area around the Smolare waterfall is abundant with vegetation and moss that never changes its green color. Here, during winter, nature creates the most beautiful icicles hanging over the rocks. In front of the Smolare waterfall there is a hole for which the locals tell their own story. The legend says that King Marko jumped with his horse from the waterfall, and the horse’s shoe made a hole in the stone. The people from Smolare call this whole “dira”. Combining these qualities with the country’s dramatic mountains and canyons, its deep lakes and rivers, Macedonia has something for everyone…

To wake up with a view at Prespa Lake, to feel the excitement of the visit to the unique snake island Big City or to touch the three century old, hand-made folk costume – is there anything more exciting than that!?. In the morning try a local desert made of figs or mush or banitsa, for launch try fresh “gjomleze” baked under vrshnik (iron pan for baking a bread), in the evening before you go to bed, have a liquor made in Strumica and nail your look to the beautiful mountain of Belasica. Then you’ll feel Macedonia.

Skopje is the capital of North Macedonia with over 600000 inhabitants. Major tourist centers of Macedonia are Ohrid, Struga, Prespa, Dojran and winter ski centers are Shar Planina Mountain, Pelister Mountain/National Park, Mavrovo Lake/National Park and Krushevo. The three ancient tectonic lakes of Ohrid, Prespa and Dojran have been protected by law, owing to their unique natural characteristics and their importance for science. Scenic Ohrid and Prespa Lakes are located close to each other and are surrounded by spectacular mountain ranges that provide abundance of natural and cultural attractions. In the gorgeous mountainous area above Ohrid and Struga are the municipalities of Debarca and Vevcani with some of the most interesting villages in the world. Every village has traditional architecture including churches, which are filled with burning candles, ancient murals and icons of Orthodox saints. There are picturesque stone houses and barns and outdoor ovens for baking bread and orchards and vineyards and fast flowing streams and old women dressed in colorful traditional costumes….. Here shepherds and their dogs tend flocks of sheep and goats and donkeys laden with hay nostalgically make their way down narrow trails and up cobblestone streets. In Vevcani village there is a complex of textile “washing mills, more than 300 years old, unique in the region and real rarity of Macedonia. All kinds of textile products are being washed and milled in these textile washing mills, but most of all the products such as bed covers, carpets, rugs etc are made of natural wool. When being dried on the pleasant Macedonia sun in the heart of the nature, they get beautiful. Every where there are friendly people eager to offer you priceless insights into their timeless existence…

Eastern part of North Macedonia is even more tempting. Forgotten by outsiders and North Macedonians alike, the enchanted east of the country is brimming over with natural beauty, historical attractions and sheer life. “Poleka, poleka” (‘slowly, slowly’) say the North Macedonians; this approach to life helps explain a sluggish economy, but is also highly instructive for the way one should approach traveling in their country. A good time to go to the southeast of North Macedonia is the second week of September, when it’s still hot but not oppressively so, and the red peppers are drying in every door frame, and the leaves are just starting to turn in the highest isolated peaks. Berovo sleepy village, 170 km from Skopje features a central position regarding the three airports – in Skopje, Sofia and Thessaloniki. The villages around Berovo area flourish with time-honored tales of bleak nature and the hardy folk who’ve tamed it. In Vladimirovo, a few miles to the west of Berovo, locals speak reverentially of the man who wrestled a wolf with his bare hands until the beast was dead; no one can remember another case where such a thing was heard of. Berovo village is also well known for its potato and the white cheese. The Malesevo region is full of pine and oak trees, which is why Berovo craftsmen are well known for their skill in traditional wood crafting.

North Macedonia is of particular interest to visitors thanks to its rare and exceptionally beautiful mountain landscape, rare flora and fauna, numerous cultural and historic sites, as well as traditional folklore. Thanks to the relief characteristics, there are various climate types within the territory of North Macedonia, ranging from typically Mediterranean to typically continental climate. The specific topography and climate of North Macedonia and its varying hydrography have enabled the development of diverse flora and fauna. The mountains, national parks, protected areas and forests of Macedonia are renowned for their beauty and wilderness and is of great interest to tourists, offering the possibility to organise various winter and outdoor sports. According to the data of the State Statistical Office, the number of tourists in March 2014 was 36 290, and the number of nights spent by tourists was 78 721. The number of tourists in March 2014, compared to March 2013, increased by 5.2%, and the number of nights spent increased by 7.5%.

http://www.macedonia-timeless.com/ Macedonia Tourist Destination Pristop

Major tourist centers/spots of Macedonia : Bitola, Dojran Lake, Galicica National Park, Jakupica Mountain, Kokino Observatory, Korab Mountain, Krusevo, Mariovo, Marko’s Monastery, Matka Canyon, Mavrovo Lake/National Park, Ohrid, Ohrid Lake, Pelister National Park, Prespa Lake, Prilep, Saint Panteleimon Monastery in Nerezi village, Saint John the Theologian Bigorski Monastery, Scupi, Stobi, Struga, Skopje, Sar Mountain, Trebeniste village, Zrze Monastery…..

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