Dojran Lake

The Dojran Lake is the smallest tectonic lake of Macedonia, in East Macedonia, at the elevation of 148 meters, with the surface of 43,1 km2, of which 27,3 km2 belongs to Macedonia and 15,8 km2 to Greece. Dojran Lake is located in the Dojran ravine at the south-easternmost part of Macedonia. The Dojran Lake is positioned between the Mountain of Belasica (2.036m) and its range of Bosak in the north, and the Kruša Planina Mt (1.179m) and Karadag Mt in the east, and the shallow Trnovo Planina Mt, or the Kara Bali, to the west and southwest and open to the Mediterranean climate in the south which is ideal for growing vineyards, figs almonds…. To the south, the ravine of Dojran spreads direction the Kukus area and further to the Salonica Bay – Thessaloniki Bay in Greece. Dojran Lake is only 25 km away from the E-75 Highway, 80 km from Salonica /Thessaloniki/ and 166 km from Macedonian capital Skopje.

Dojran lake features shape similar to a circle and it is 9 km long and 7 km wide. The fifteen fish species of special features are found in Dojran Lake /of which famous are kostreš, plašica, carp, sheath-fish/ and water grass /algae/. The favorite local dish of Dojran carp cooked and bakes with vegetables is warmly recommended to visitors. All those fish species contributed to the fame of the Dojran Lake as part of the world’s natural rarities.

Dojran Lake is the richest lake in fish in Europe and very rich in vegetation. The Dojran Lake fishermen still fish during winter period in a very special ancient way of net fishing with the assistance of birds /Cormorants and other diving birds. The climate in the Dojran plain is pleasant – moderate Mediterranean as the entire Dojran Lake region is under the climatic influence of the Salonica gulf. The climate of Dojran Lake is characterized with warm and dry summers and soft winters. In Dojran Lake over 120 days during the year feature temperature over 26°C.

The settlement on the present day Stari Dojran existed in the prehistory and Greek historian Heredotus in the 5th century BC mentions the Paeonians, ancient Thraco-Illyrian tribe which settled the territory. They lived on the lake shore in wooden huts surrounded by reeds and were skillful in boats, and fully engaged in hunting, fishing, agriculture and animal husbandry. During the rule of Philip II (359-336) and Alexander The Great (336-323) of Macedonia and during the Roman conquest and occupation of the Balkans in the 2nd century BC, there was the antique city covering some 30 hectares – a fortification with the oldest known name of Taurian. In 395 the city became part of the Eastern Roman Empire – Roumelia, later called the Byzantine Empire. Around the 6th – 7th century the Slavic tribes settle the Balkans and the city of Taurian, thanks to its location and the development, takes a big part in the historical, cultural and economical issues.

The city of Polin which was slightly relocated to the south inherits the tradition of Taurian and the main developments were with fishing, hunting and farming. However being at the crossroads of the conquering campaigns of the Byzantines and the Macedonian empire of Tzar Samuil (around 969-1018 AD) also a path for the Serbian rulers – King Milutin 1281 and Tzar Dushan 1331-1355 AD, the city experienced some unpleasant times. In 1371 arrived Turks of the Ottoman Empire to this area and gave the city the name of Dojran. The city was rebuilt along the similar architecture as Constantinople and Thessaloniki, with cobblestone streets, fresh water fountains, city bath, churches and also mosques, several schools, a clock tower etc. The area of Dojran at that time assumed to have had 79 villages with about 30000 residents. The massive islamization of population took place from the middle of the 17th century since when there were settlements populated exclusively with the Turkish people –  Gjopceli, Chaushli, Sevendekli, Dedeli, Kurtamzali, Organzali and other.

Unfortunately World War I brought an end to the prosperous life of Dojran for a while. In 1916 the entire population of Dojran was terrified and evacuated to neighboring towns and countries and in 1918 completely moved due to harsh military actions and bombardment in the vicinity when Dojran was completely destroyed. The old residents however had plans to rebuild the city in the period between the two Great wars, but several obstacles stood in the way, one of which was the lake and the flooding of the demolished city. Having the urge to return to their ancestral homes about 60 fishermen families, around 1919-1920 decided to reside at the foundation of the old city of Taurian. So, 4 km away from the ruins of Dojran they created a new settlement and named it Nov (New) Dojran. In 1925 refugees from the Greek part of Macedonia, ie 43 families of the Greek settlers /optants/ independently settled in the areas of Gevgelia and Dojran as they had right to get land possessions for free according to the Regulation on settlement of the southern areas of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia/Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. As time went on many of the families returned to the old Dojran as well. The administrative buildings were built in Old Dojran so both settlements started developing simultaneously.

“Sretenovo is settlement in Macedonia, on the southern shore of the Dojran Lake. The border with Greece in located in its close proximity. It belongs to the Dojran Municipality. The settlement was established in 1928 by the Serb colonists by the Stari Dojran which was destroyed in the First World War. The Turks created the earlier population which was displaced. The settlement of Novi Dojran was founded a bit northern from Stari Dojran, while the settlement of Sretenovo was actually established on the place of the old Turkish graveyard, in the southern part of Stari Dojran. The settlement was named Sretenovo, after Sreten Vukosavljević, patriotic and expert for the agrarian reform and the colonization question at that time. Colonists of Sretenovo village were earlier settled in the village of Vrelo in Kosovo (1921-1928) beneath the Goles Mountain, but because they were not satisfied with that environment, have been relocated to the new location. Those people – 26 families were predominantly Serbs from the village of Vrbnik near Knin and the Ukrainians – Rusyns from Prnjavor in Bosnia, by origin from Galicia. There was also a Croatian and one Slovenian family settled. Today the majority of population is Macedonian”. Poreklo, Slobodan Zrnić

The main cultural monument and attraction of Dojran is the Church of St Elijah which is large and beautiful three-nave basilica built in the middle of the 19th century but still standing in ruins on the elevation above the Dojran Lake after plundering, fire and complete demolition by Bulgarian forces in the WWI.

In World War II the city of Dojran was again a victim of foreign campaigns until the final liberation on November 5th 1944 when it was included in the Peoples Republic of Macedonia as part of Yugoslavia and since 1991 is a part of independent Republic of Macedonia.

Taste of Macedonia