Highlights of Macedonia

Macedonia
Image By www.flickr.com/photos/patsnik

Ancient and rugged, Macedonia’s landscapes manage to evoke mysteries and dramas from another age. Old atmospheric Greek ruins quietly crumble on desolate mountain-tops. Beautiful Byzantine churches overlook serene highland lakes. Impressive fortresses overlook historical towns and cities. There is definitely plenty to see and do in Macedonia. No matter what season you visit, you’ll never be short of terrific attractions and activities.

Here are some highlights of Macedonia to inspire you to plan a trip:

Cave Vrelo

Cave Vrelo has been listed as one of the world’s 77 top natural wonders, and it is one of the deepest underwater caves on the planet. Home to many stalactites and interesting rock formations, look out for the one in the centre of the cave that has been called the Pine Cone (for obvious reasons!). There are also two gorgeous lakes within the cave, and explorers have found underwater tunnels.

Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski

Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski
Image By www.flickr.com/photos/mlazarevski

Secluded in the picturesque slopes of Mount Bistra, high above the scenic Valley of the Radika River, and surrounded by a lush and verdant forest, the Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski certainly enjoys a prime location. Providing incredible views of the nearby area, the historic religious site is well worth a visit.

Byzantine Ruins in Bitola

Bitola is the second-biggest town in Macedonia. It is situated just 18 km (11 miles) from the border with neighbouring Greece, and it was an important centre during the times of the Ottoman Empire. Surrounded by the hills and forests of Pelister National Park, the town is nestled in some pretty scenery. The nearby ruins of Heraclea Lyncestis are in a good state of preservation, and you can walk through the remains of the ancient settlement, visit the Byzantine basilica, and admire the eye-catching and ornate mosaics.

Old Bazaar, Skopje

Skopje
Image By www.flickr.com/photos/jaimeperez

Located in the country’s capital city of Skopje, the Old Bazaar dates back to the mighty Ottoman era. Next to the beautiful mountain and Kale Fortress, it is part of Skopje’s Old Town. Take time to explore the many narrow and maze-like streets with their quirky little stores, sacred mosques, traditional steam baths, local homes, and bustling marketplaces. Hungry? Pick up some tasty treats from one of the quaint restaurants and enjoy the authentic tastes of Macedonia. Watch skilled craftsmen at work in the alleyways, with tailors, cobblers, quilt-makers, and metal-workers practising their trade.

Carsija

Carsija is within Skopje’s Old Town. It has whispers of the city’s Ottoman past, with its beautiful twisting lanes filled with tea houses, mosques, and craft stores. The area also boasts an exciting nightlife! You’ll also find a number of historic buildings and interesting museums. Carsija is often high on the list of places for people to visit in Macedonia’s capital city.

Other highlights of Macedonia include the stunning Mavrovo National Park with its abundance of wildlife and glorious views, the beaches of Dojran, the wineries and vineyards of Kavadarci, the sparkling lakes in Pestani, artsy Vevcani, lively Gevgelija, spiritual Radovis, and historic Gostivar.

1 Comment

  • Hi Rob, Great post and you are absolutely spot on, it is a beautiful place. Even an Irish Australian like me loves a bit of history. I did however find a few small issues with the description. The region you are referring to when you state, “Old atmospheric Greek ruins quietly crumble on desolate mountain-tops”, has never been part of Greece nor any of the Hellenic City States, as they were known back in the day.

    Also, you comment on the beautiful city of Bitola and say, “It is situated just 18 km (11 miles) from the border with neighbouring Greece, and it was an important centre during the times of the Ottoman Empire.” Although this would be an accurate distance within today’s borders, in Ottoman times Bitola was nowhere near 18Km away from Greece… a lot further than that. We must not forget that the whole region of Macedonia, in Ottoman times was later illegally divided into 3 parts in 1912-13 as part of the Bucharest Treaty among Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria (with a little going to today’s Albania).

    For a person who has majored in Ancient History, it kind of bothered me to see that even the name “Greece” is mentioned and we all know that the name Greece was only brought into play when the Bavarian King unified the country in 1821… no part of Macedonia was part of Greece then, nor was it during the Byzantine (Prior to the Ottomans), nor was it during the Roman times. Macedonia has always been Macedonia on it’s own. A separate nation with a separate nationality.

    Over 50 Ancient writers, including those of the City States (mainly Athens), Romans etc etc have stated the same.

    Otherwise I love that you have enjoyed the country as much as my wife, 2 children and I have also. We will be going back in 2017 without doubt.

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