Prilep

Prilep is the second largest city in Pelagonia, the largest and very fertile plain /granary/ in Macedonia. Prilep is town of Macedonia situated in the north-eastern part of Pelagonija plain (south-central part of Macedonia), at altitude of 620 meters above the sea level. Prilep is a center for production of high-quality tobacco and cigarettes and the metal processing, electronic, timber, textiles, and food industries. Many of the world’s largest cigarette makers use Prilep’s tobacco in their cigarettes after it is processed in local factories. Prilep abounds in historical monuments which inspire fascinating tales of its past and features interesting events to attend all year round.

The Ali Čair is the settlement from the Neolithic and Roman period of history. Remains of the ancient city of Stibera, which date from the 4th-3rd century BC lie 16 km west of Prilep, in the Chepigovo village, by the confluence of the Blato river with the Crna Reka River. The ancient itineraria refer to the fact that Styberra is situated by the road Stobi-Heraclea. At the Stibera site were discovered 28 monuments with inscriptions and names of deities and donors, and 27 monuments of the cult statues and portraits. Among the finds of the cult statues there are gods of Asclepius, Hermes and Bachus, and female statues and imperial statues of the Stibera inhabitants. National museum Prilep was and is the holder of numerous scientific research and conservation projects, organizer of many exhibitions and cultural events and a nursery of experts participating in the implementation of various projects in Macedonia, the former Yugoslavia, but also in European countries – especially those who developed the Slavic archaeology.

Prilep came into Serbian hands in about 1334 when Emperor Dusan captured it from the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus III. They signed a peace treaty, retaining the city to Dusan, where he resided in 1348. Charter Emperor Dusan issued to Saint Sava’s cell on Mount Athos speaks of ‘the greatly famed city of Prilep’. It seems that Emperor Dusan made Prilep one of his capitals, building himself an imperial palace and establishing his court and administration there. In 1350 or earlier, Dusan awarded Prilep and its hinterland to Vukasin who had himself crowned king in 1365. When his father was killed in the Battle of Maritza in 1371, Marko succeeded to his titles and was allowed by the Ottomans to continue ruling from Prilep by paying tribute to the sultan. The Medieval town of Prilep was at the foothill of the rocky Varosh area, known as the Markovi kuli – the towers of Marko, built on the place of the Roman settlement of Ceramiae. The Varosh complex resembles the ‘eagle’s nest’ among the magnificent rocks, on the south-western side of the Markovi kuli – the Marko’s towers. The Varosh Monastery complex includes foundations of necropolis and settlements from the Bronze and Iron ages, thermal spas from the Roman period and numerous well preserved cultural-historical monuments from the Middles ages. Varosh area dates from the ancient history, built for defensive purposes, but it persisted through the Medieval period, and may have been the key residential and economic site at Prilep in the 14th century. The remains of preserved Medieval Varosh churches undoubtedly prove the intense spiritual life that evolved in the Middle Ages, said to have had 77 churches at the end of the 18th century of which 7 survived in the 19th century. In the 14th century the King Marko Mrnjavcevic built upon this a defensive stronghold. After death of King Marko, in the Rovina Battle in 1395, the town of Prilep was conquered by the Ottomans, who built the town we see today, whose remains are pretty well preserved.

Treskavec Monastery – built in the 14th century, set in the beautiful bare scenery. Treskavec Monastery is renowned as the place with the most beautiful sunset in Macedonia. The frescoes inside of the Treskavac churh are in pretty good condition and date from different periods of the 14th, 15th, 16th and 19th centuries. Specially interesting is woodcarving of the door and other furniture in the church. The monks that live here are quiet and keep to themselves. The hike to the Treskavec Monastery takes at least 2 hours, but it is through fascinating scenery. If you go in summer start early, if you want to take the hike in winter, early spring or late fall, ask around before to make sure the path is passable.

In ancient period the cult of Draconus deity spread in the area of Prilep and its surroundings, which surely was part of the Asclepius cult. It is depicted by two snakes rising from both sides of an egg. Prilep has been mentioned for the first time in the historical records in 1014. The territory of the city and its countryside were one of the most important strategical, political and military places in this part of the Balkans, as many important crossroads, which led from Greece to Adriatic see, were crossing Pelagonija Plain. The important antique roads “Via Egnazia” and “Via Militaris” had its most natural connection with the whole Balkans, crossing Prilep. The shortest road that connects Venetia and Dubrovnik business people with the ones in Thessaloniki was crossing Prilep, too. Through the centuries many cultures flourished on this space, like Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine, Slavic culture and others too. The most representative monumental complexes from the antique period testify about the rich history of Prilep : Bedem in Cepigovo – walls, Bezisten between Prilepec and Volkovo, Stibera, Alcomena, Keramia, Colobansa and some places in the city.

Prilep, the seat of the Prince Marko, legendary person of the epic poetry, keeps significant remains of the medieval fortification. As per Byzantine architectural principles in the Byzantine world, the strong walls, strengthen with rectangular towers have been built on the rocky reef. The most significant personality of the Serbian epic poetry – Marko Kraljevic /Prince Marko Mrnjavcevic/ made Prilep, his hometown, renown by his outsanding valiant reputation. Marko Mrnjevčević, know as Kraljević Marko – Prince Marko was the Serbian nobleman who ruled the area around Prilep from 1371 til 1395, During time Marko Kraljević raised into the mythological personality and became the national hero in the epic poetry and novels of Bulgarians, Serbs, Macedonians, Croats, Montenegrin and Romanians. Epic poets of the Balkans have created the myth of extremely strong and brave man Marko Kraljevic.

Markovi Kuli – The Fortress (Towers) of King Marko: Marko’s towers, are included among the five strongest and most unconquerable fortresses in the Balkans. Markovi kuli site is situated to the northwest of Prilep, just above the village of Varoš. The towers of Serbian medieval Prince Marko Mrnjavčević are located on a 120-180 m high hill, surrounded by steep slopes covered with minute granite stones. The upper part of the former settlement can be reached from its north and south side. The rampart on this terrain dates from the 13th and 14th centuries and is in good condition. The walls are about one meter thick and were built of limestone mortar and rest upon the large limestone rocks. According to some historical findings, until the second part of the 14th century and even later, this fortress was defended by only 40 soldiers.

Markovi kuli in Prilep were named after the last king Marko, but the studies say that it was actually a much older fortress, originating from the 4th century and the 3rd century BC. Archaeological excavations revealed the traces of several epochs – from the necropolis of the early iron period, to remains of the ancient population and of the late middle ages. The fortress consists of four defensive areas. Today, it present a symbol of Prilep.

In folk tradition, are mentioned the chapel dedicated to Saint Luke, while in the charter of King Dusan, along with the Treskavec Monastery are also listed several churches : St. John the Baptist, St. George, Sveti Vrachi /Holy Healers/, St. Theodore and St. Demetrius. From the number of churches built in the Varosh area, today are preserved: Saint Nicholas /Sveti Nikola, built in 1299/, Monastery of St. Archangel Michael /Manastir Sveti Arhangel Mihajlo/, St. Demetrius /Sveti Dimitrije/, St. Athanasius /Sveti Atanasije/, Saints Peter and Paul /Sveti Petar i Pavle/ and chuch of the Holy Virgin /Sveta Bogorodica/.

The Church of SS Kiril and Metodius in Prilep was built between 1926 and 1936, close to the place of the former church from 1884. Bishop of Bitola Josip consecrated the foundations of the church, and Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic consecrated the church when it was completed.The Orthodox church of SS Kiril and Metodius is impressive structure of the famous Belgrade architect Momir Korunovic, whose fruitful activities in the region, between the two world wars resulted in significant architectural accomplishments.  The Church of SS Kiril and Metodius in Prilep was built in memory for  King Petar Karadjorjevic and to commemorate the Serbian soldiers killed in this part of Macedonia – in Prilep area and surroundings, during the First World War.

On 19 December 2008, the patron’s day of Prilep, officially became part of the Guinness World Records. 80,191 cabbage rolls or ‘sarma’, were prepared for every citizen of town; thus Prilep attempted to set a Guinness World Record under the category of the largest cabbage dish. The traditional sarma was prepared by the skillful hands of 160 women volunteers of the Prerodba women association, NGO Mother-Tradition and the VMRO-DPMNE Union of women. The sarma in the size of a hazelnut, was prepared in the EURO Restaurant in Prilep, and within the course of 6 hours the 160 women prepared the 80,191 cabbage rolls ! In order to be authentic in taste and size, the sarmas were in miniature dimensions, 10×10 mm, and about a tonne of cabbage and 60 kilograms of rice was used. Each woman was set to prepare about 500 sarma rolls. It takes an enormous amount of skill to make them, since in a very small cabbage leaf one should wrap enough grains of rice to be boiled in the best way possible. The net weight of the Prilep sarma – cabbage dish was exactly 544 kg. The previous record holder was the Serbian town of Novi Sad whose citizens prepared 6,400 sarma rolls, though Guinness notes that the Prilep volunteers intend to break a Guiness record and make up to 80,000 sarmas. For the celebration of Saint Nicholas, 19th December 2015, the town of Prilep offered and served 70.000 fast sarma rolls, along the blessing for well-being and happiness ! Those memorable skills and the unique well-preserved traditions are reconstructed and available to visitors in our famous Balkan Gastronomic tours !

Taste of Macedonia

 

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