Prilep is the second largest city in Pelagonia – the largest and outstandingly fertile plain /granary/ of North Macedonia. Town of Prilep is situated in the north-eastern part of the Pelagonija plain /south-central part of North Macedonia/, at altitude of 620 meters and is gifted with extraordinary heritage and nature. Town of Prilep is traditional trading center, but also center for production of high-quality tobacco and cigarettes and center of metal processing, electronic, timber, textiles, and food industries. Many of the world’s largest cigarette makers use extraordinary Prilep’s tobacco in their cigarettes after it is processed in local factories. Finest Prilep tobacco is dried everywhere on the streets of Prilep and in front of the houses. Prilep influenced the whole Macedonia not only by characteristics of its civil population, but also by its historical features connected mostly with the hometown of Marko Kraljevic, but also by its trading tradition.

Town of Prilep abounds in historical monuments and sites which inspire fascinating tales of its past trat generate attractive cultural and sports events to attend all year round. The Old Bazaar in Prilep is an urban complex that had its biggest growth in the second half of the 18th and early 19th century, when Prilep was developed and prosperous trade and craft center. In the second half of the 19th century, after a series of fires that affected the Old Bazaar in 1854, in 1866 and 1873, the economic and trade power of Prilep declines. Likewise numerous migrations of the Balkans, Prilep and the Prilep Field and the Pelagonija Plain was between the two world wars populated by colonized people from Dalmatian craggy villages escaping from tough and severe lives, who experienced various sufferings, challenges, conflicts between the indigenous people and newcomers due to methods and regulations of the communist principle of development, the agrarian reform, lack of basic medical and educational conditions…. The Old Bazaar of Prilep gets today’s look in the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th century – the Clock Tower, the Kurshumli Han, House of Bekteshovci, the Turkish bath of Chifte Hammam, the Charshi Mosque built during the rule of the sultan Mehmed the Second Conqueror, the Varos area with numerous monasteries, cultural sites and monuments….

The Ali Čair is the settlement dating from the Neolithic and Roman period of history. Remains of the ancient city of Stibera, which date from the 4th-3rd century BC are set 16 km west of Prilep, in the Chepigovo village, by the confluence of the Blato river with the Crna Reka River. The ancient itineraria records 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 ancient 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. The National museum of Prilep was organizer and now runs numerous scientific research and conservation projects, organizes 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 reserach and develop the Slavic archaeology.

During the 14th century Prilep was one of the capitals of the Serbian Empire during the reign of Tsar Dusan and center of later Lordship of Serbian king Marko Mrnjavčević, remembered in epic poetry as the Prince Marko. Prilep came into Serbian hands sometime in 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. The Charter of Emperor Dusan issued to Saint Sava’s cell on the Mount Athos speaks of ‘the greatly famed city of Prilep’. It was the time when Emperor Dusan made Prilep one of his capitals, building himself an imperial palace and establishing his court and administration there. In 1350 or earlier, tsar Dusan awarded Prilep and its hinterland to Vukasin who had himself crowned king in 1365 and so he became the legal co-ruler. 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. Marko became legal ruler after the death of his father King Vukašin in the Maritza Battle in September 1395, and after the death of tsar Uros in December 1395. However this role of Prince Marko as the ruler was not accepted and acknowledged bythe local Serb lords and Marko remained the lord of the western Macedonia with the town of Prilep as his capital. Marko became the Turkish vassal most probably in 1385 and remained so until his death in the Rovina Battle in 1395. In this battle the army of the Wallachian lord Mirchea defeated the Ottoman sultat Bayezid in whose rows were the Christial vassals, among whom was the Prince Marko.

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 in Prilep resembles the ‘eagle’s nest’ among the magnificent rocks, on the south-western side of the Markovi kuli – the Marko’s towers which is rocky mass composed of numerous, diverse small denudation forms representing exceptionally fine sculpture of the relief. Such an intensive concentration and such diversity of micro relief forms as at Markovi Kuli have not been recorded so far in broader environment. Mining and trade have flourished in Medieval Serbian states in the 14th and the 15th centuries and during that period domestic and foreign master goldsmiths manufactured and produced a large number of finest pieces of jewelry, especially rings, creating the special Serbian style of the jewelry patterns called “Serbian way” in those times, which was very reputable even outside of Serbia. That style was mixture of Byzantine and Western European patterns modified by the local tradition. Large number of preserved jewelry pieces shows large typological diversity and use of precious materials and highly developed and advanced techniques of ornamentation.

The Varosh Monastery complex in Prilep 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. Thanks to its unique position above and within the rocky surroundings the Treskavec Monastery is renowned as the place with the most beautiful sunset in Macedonia. The frescoes inside of the Treskavac church 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 Kraljevic, 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 meters 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/.

Mound of the Unbeaten – Mogila is a World War II Memorial in the Park of the Revolution in Prilep. The unique anti fascist monument and memorial complex were built of white marble by the famous Yugoslav sculptor Bogdan Bogdanovic in 1961 in honor to the martyrs and fallen anti-fascist fighters of the People’s Liberation Struggle in Macedonia against German Army and Bulgarian Axis-aligned forces which occupied Prilep early in the People’s Liberation Struggle (WWII) during April of 1941. The Mogila Memorial complex in Prilep consists of memorial Urns and the common graves of fallen soldiers. Urns are constructed from marble, and reminiscent of the antique urns. Biggest urn in the Mogila complex has the symbol of the eternal flame at the top, which is symbol of Macedonian people’s struggle for freedom. In the second part of the Mogila complex is the crypt which houses the remains of 462 fallen partisan fighters from Prilep and the neighboring places, whose names are inscribed on the marble slabs. The Mogila memorial monument continues to stand as a symbol of Prilep and is well maintained.

“Anniversary of liberation of Prilep on the 6th November 1912 marks the victory in the Prilep Battle when the Serbian medieval capital of Prince Marko Mrnjavcevic in south Serbia – Macedonia was liberated. In those fights the Serbs lost some 2000 soldiers. Highly distinguished were soldiers of the Drina, Timok and Morava divisions, then cetniks squads and other miliraty units, and especially soldiers of the 17th Drina regiment from Valjevo who later first marched into Bitolj, after the victory in the Bitola battle, during the retreat of the Turkish occupators. At the Bakarno gumno point there was a Memorial ossuary which was demolished by the Bulgarian nazis in 1941. Description of the Serbian Army enterin Prilep was recorded by one of the batallion commanders: “The procession of church flags greeted the army, likewise the cartwright and colorists flags, under the order they mutually respected – women, children, old men…. Women with children remained on the door steps. The half of the town divided by the Orahovac river was bustling like in a bee-hive, while the other half with the carshi /market/ was left with numerous closed and silent minarets. Then happened greeting among people and soldiers, still of confused and smiling faces. Kind of ember covered the weapons, sajkaca caps and fes caps which suddenly got tiny crosses emroidered. The powerful army that withstood another glorious victory – entered proudly Prilep and the chair of Prince Marko, fully aware of the success. One after the other came regiments, led by the flag – the highest military sanctity. Numerous people were in the streets, while exultantly greeted their liberators. Since we entered Prilep, the victorious powerful soldiers did not eat anything, and no one asked when they will get the tain bread, but all were heading towards me asking to show them the Marko’s towers!” Izvor Aleksandar Pavlović

The tobacco seed spread along all continents since the 16th century taking the regions of warm climate, sun and diligent workers which would result in the best quality of aromatic plant “gold”. This is the case with Prilep and the fertile Pelagonia field that write history closely connected with tobacco. The first tobacco Institute was the oldest scientific institution in the Balkans involved in genetic research and improvement of sort quality, production and models of production of tobacco and its products, established in Prilep i Macedonia and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The founder and long-term president of the Tobacco Institute was Rudolf Gornik, Yugoslav scientist for agriculture and founder of the tobacco science in Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. Rudolf Gornik completed in 1916 Gymnasium in Osijek and continued his education in Praha. It was his proposal to establish on 24 December 1924 the central experimental station for research of tobacco, the first and unique one in the Balkans. Thanks to professor Gornik and his assistants the Tobacco Institute in Prilep became the first scientific establishment in Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the Balkans to make genetic research and hybridisation on plants in creation of new and more resistant sorts of tobacco.  In 1930 was created the first sort of the famous Prilep tobacco known today. In 1932 the Law on Tobacco was introduced which regulated that tobacco can be produced in the state only from tobacco seeds produced in the experimental station in Prilep. Professor Gornik became in 1939 the chief of the State monopoly for Tobacco in Belgrade. Foundations for the Tobacco Institute were laid down in November 1937, and construction was completed on 10 August 1939. The High school for Tobacco was founded in 1946 was where students from the whole socialist Yugoslavia learned on the Tobacco industry. Professor Gornik gave great contribution in modernization of tobacco production and research and creation of the new tobacco sorts suitable for the Pelagonia area. The new sorts of Tobacco were created – Prilep 10-3/2, Prilep 12-2/1, Jaka Kire-ciler and Otlja, as well as new sorts of Virginia tobacco type. Rudolf Gornik was founder of the Tutun magazine in 1951, and later its editor in chief. Then Gornik left to Zagreb where he established the Tobacco Institute there. During his long career Gornik was greatly decorated and prized, and iin 1964 he became the honorary citizen of Prilep and the member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences. The Tobacco Museum was established in 1973 by dr Boško Babić 1973, as per memory of 100 years of organized production of tobacco in Prilep and 400 years of tobacco existence in the Ottoman Empire. The Prilep Tobacco Museum keeps and exhibits rich collection of some 4200 items for tobacco manufacture processing as well as some 750 wonderfully ornamented pipes and chibouks of gold, silver, enamel, mother of pearl, ivory and bone of rhinoceros. At the time of establishment of the Tobacco Museum they spent 13 German Marks of that time for collections and items.

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 in 1936. 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 of King Petar Karadjordjevic and to commemorate the Serbian soldiers killed in this part of Macedonia – in Prilep area and surroundings, during the First World War. The crypt of the SS Kiril and Metodius Church keeps remains of 1800 Serbina solders killed in the wars 1912-1918 in Prilep area.”Spiritual rule personified in non-canonic Macedonian Orthodox Church, consciously hide remaining bones of the Serbian soldiers – martyres kept in the Memorial Church of SS Kiril and Methodius with ossuary in Prilep who gave their lives during the First Balkan War for liberation of Prilep and the area from the declining Ottoman Empire, and in 1918 their comrades-in-arms by breaking the Salonica Front have suppressed the new conquerors from Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria.” Miloš Meljanac

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