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Ministry of Economy
Tourism Department
Publisher: Ministry of Economy
Autor of the text: Danilo Kocevski
Autor of the photographs:
Production: Skenpoint
he existence of Macedonia can be traced ars claim that the name has its origin in the old
as far back as the times of the Bible, Macedonian words makos (big, high), and don
which says that during his first journey (land), which, when put together, render the
CRADEL out of Asia, St. Paul the Apostle went to preach meaning of a big, high, mountainous land.
in Macedonia among the Macedonians. In his Nowadays, the Republic of Macedonia is a
OF CULTURE novel One Hundred Years of Solitude the ”apos- veritable treasury of culture and art. As hardly

LAND tle” of contemporary world literature Gabriel

Garcia Marquez mentions “the wise alchemists
anywhere in the world, this re­gion treasures a
large number of historical monuments: church-

AND NATURE of Macedonia”. Several legends try to explain

the origin of the name Macedonia. According
es, icons, monasteries, archaeological sites,
mosques, old books and other artefacts. The
to some, the country received its name after its Ma­ce­donian collections of icons are acknowl-
king, Macedon. On the other hand, the schol- edged to be among the best in the world, of
the same rank as the collections of Sinai, Mt. services and for their mission of converting the of St. John Bigorski (19th century), Gostivar re-
Atos and Russia. The oldest easel icons origi- pagan Slavs to Christianity. gion, whose woodcarved iconostasis presents
nate from the late 10th century, but the terra- Macedonian churches and monasteries a masterpiece of the Miyak wood-carvers.
cotta icons found at the site of Vinichko Kale, have a long tradition. The frescoes in the small Since ancient times Mace­donia has had an
near the town of Vinitsa in Eastern Macedonia, church of St. George built in the 12th century exceptional strategic position on the Balkan
are a real rarity. They present unique examples near the village of Kurbinovo, in the vicinity of Peninsula and in Southern Europe. Its central
of early Christian art from the period of the late Prespa, together with the frescoes in the church position on the Balkans provides excellent
4th to mid 6th century. of St. Panteleimon near Skopje, dating also from communication. The borders of the Republic
The first Slavic alphabet and lite­rature the 12th century, present the highest achieve- measure 849 km and it occupies an area of 25
also have their roots in Macedonia. The cul- ments of Byzantine art from that period. Along- 713 km2. The population of the Republic of
tural mission carried out by the brothers Ss. side these, one must not omit the church of St. Macedonia are the citizens: Macedonians, Alba-
Cy­ril and Methodius of Salonika has been of Leontius in the village of Vodocha, the Church nians, Turks, Serbs, Vlachs, Bosnians, Romanians
crucial significance for all Slavic people. Taking of the Holy Mother of God in the village of Ve- and others. According to the last census the
the language spoken by the Mace­donian Slavs lyusa, both in Strumitsa region, the church of Republic of Macedonia has about 2,050,000 in-
from the vicinity of Salonika as its basis, the two St. George in the villa­ge of Staro Nagorichane, habitants. Commensurate with its Constitution,
brothers devised the Glagolitic alphabet and Kumanovo region, the Monastery of Treskavets, it is an autonomous and independent civic and
translated into Old Slavic the most important Prilep region, the Monastery of Lesnovo (14th democratic state where all the inhabitants, re-
ecclesiastic books necessary for the religious century), Kratovo region, and the Monas­tery gardless of their ethnic origin, have the same
civil rights and freedoms. Balkans. The postal service makes communica- sins, the largest one being the Aegean basin
The road communications make the main tions with the world fast and easy through its with its main river – the Vardar. It rises near
transport net­work in the Republic. The basic numerous branches throughout the country. the village of Vrutok in the foothills of Mount
roads were built as early as the Roman times. The Republic of Macedonia abounds in nat- Vlainitsa in the northwest of Macedonia and
The Roman Via Egnatia led from Rome, through ural beauties and rarities. Many have named it is 350 km long, 264 km of which flow through
Ohrid and Salonika, to Cons­t­ant­inople. Nowa- “the pearl of the Balkans” while others compare Macedonia. It enters the Aegean Sea at the Gulf
days the main international highway, the E-75, its beauty, configuration and climate with that of Salonica. The Vardar is the main source of
which starts in Ostende and goes via Brussels, of Switzerland. Despite the existence of many hidroenergy in Macedonia. The “Vardar Valley”
Nurneberg, Vienna, Budapest and Belgrade, valleys, the numerous hills and mountains give project, which is still in its early stages, will be
passes through Skopje and ends in Athens. The it an average altitude of 830 metres. Macedo- of great importance for the prosperity of the
air transport facilities are also of great impor- nia is exceptionally rich in water resources. It is country. The rivers Treska, Pchinya and Tsrna
tance. There are two airports in Macedonia, in often called “the land of lakes” because of the are some of the Vardar’s tributaries, while the
Skopje and in Ohrid. They are used not only by many tectonic, glacial lakes and man-made Black Drim, which runs out of the Ohrid Lake,
the Macedonian airlines but also by other for- lakes. There are about fifty large and small lakes belongs to the Adriatic basin. It is renowned for
eign airlines. The airports in some of the neigh- in the country, the most significant ones being its beauty, together with the picturesque river
bouring countries are only a short drive away. the three tectonic ones the lakes of Ohrid, Pre- Radika, which springs from the Shara Moun-
All this speaks in favour of Macedonia as an spa and Doyran. tains and flows into Lake Debar.
easily accessible area in the central part of the The rivers of Macedonia form three ba- The flora and fauna of the Republic of Mace-
donia are amazingly heterogeneous. Here the taking view can be seen of both lakes. The na- ter sports centres, which are well known even
Mediter­r­a­nean flora goes hand-in-hand with tional park of Mavrovo is situated on Mount abroad: Popova Shapka, Mavrovo, Krushevo,
the plant species of the Euro-Siberian regions. Bistra and is rich in rare flora and fauna, crystal- Pelister, Golak and Ponikva. These centres pro-
The high mountains, thick forests and lush pas- clear waters and the wonderful landscapes of vide all the necessary facilities for sports and
tures have encouraged the development of Lake Mavrovo. The Pelister national park (2,600) recreation such as comfortable resorts and
cattle breeding. Thus many works of art show is located on one of the most beautiful moun- hotels, cable cars and ski lifts. Popova Shapka
Macedonia as an idyllic place with domesti- tains of Mace­donia. Its symbol is a rare variety can accommodate 2,000 tourists, Mavrovo
cated scenery in the valleys, but others present of pines called molika. The abundance of Medi- about 1,200, and Krushevo (the highest town
its impressive, awesome mountain landscapes. terranean flora is due to the closeness of the in Macedonia with an altitude of 1,250 metres)
The mountains are the natural habitat of cham- Aegean Sea, which is only 60 km away, and the about 600. Pelister has a modern hotel and
ois, bear, deer, boar, wolf, and many other ani- Adriatic Sea, 80 km away from the western bor- well-equipped mountain lodges which can ac-
mals. Because of the great variety of plant and ders of the Republic. As a result of all these in- commodate about 500 visitors. Golak and Poni-
animal species, many areas in the mountains fluences, there are three types of climate in the kva are closely linked localities with their own
have been proclaimed national parks and for- country: Medi­terranean, moderate continental infrastructure and resorts, which offer comfort-
ests protected by the law. One of these is the and mountainous. able accommodation and good sports and rec-
mountain of Galichitsa (2,225 metres). The convenient climate and the rare plant reation facilities.
It is a natural border between the Ohrid and and animal life are ideal for the development The numerous mountains, forests, rivers
Prespa plains with a peak from which a breath- of mountain tourism. There are several win- and lakes provide outstanding conditions for
hunting and angling and present a great tour- terranean lead across Macedonia. The territory of Macedonia was inhabited
ist attraction. The hunting reservations are rich Macedonian spas have been well known by non-Indo-European dwellers as early as the
in game and are accorded a special care. Village since ancient times. There are more than 60 Neolithic, 4,500 years B.C. After the Indo-Euro-
tourism is developing too. The picturesque vil- thermal springs tapped at several spas. pean tribes settled on the Balkan Peninsula,
lage of Galichnik, situated on Mount Bistra at The best known are Katlanovo Spa near these regions were inhabited by the ancient
an altitude of 200 metres attracts many eager Skopje, Proevo Spa near Kumanovo, Kosovrasti Macedonians, Ilyrians, Thracians, and Hellenes.
visitors every summer to see the traditional Spa near Debar, Bansko Spa near Strumitsa, Ne- The ancient Macedonians populated the cen-
Galichnik weddings performed according to gortsi Spa near Gevgelia, Kezhovitsa Spa near tral part of the Balkans. Ancient Macedonia
the long-cherished Macedonian customs. The Shtip and Kochani Spa. These springs of volca- reached its zenith during the reign of King
village is also known for its sheepfolds and nic origin have medicinal qualities, which can Philip II and his son Alexander the Great. Under
farms, first class dairy products and valuable help cure a wide range of diseases of the respi- the rule of Philip II Macedonia was united into a
hand-woven rugs. The position of the country ratory tract, nervous system, kidneys, digestive strong, centralistic state. Alexander was one of
and its configuration, climate and hydrography and reproduction systems and rheumatism. the greatest army commanders and conquer-
provide exceptionally favourable conditions for The temperature of the water ranges from 30°C ors in history and he expanded the borders of
the development of tourism. However, transit in Kumanovo Spa to 72°C in Bansko. All these his empire from the Adriatic Sea to India and
tourism must not be neglected since important spas are connected with the nearby towns by Egypt.
arterial roads connecting central Europe with regular bus services and offer suitable accom- The Romans conquered Macedonia in the
the Aegean, the Black Sea and the East Medi- modation. 2nd century B.C. In the 4th century A.D. it be-
came a part of the Byzantine Empire, but during
the 6th and the 7th centuries it was inhabited
by the Slavic tribes of the Berezites, Dragov-
ites, Velegizites, Sagudates, Rinhines and oth-
ers, who created specific territorial units called
The late l0th century was marked by the
creation of a powerful Macedonian kingdom
by Tsar Samuel. Its seat was first in Prespa and
then in Ohrid. During its reign Rome gave its
consent for the foundation of an independent
Macedonian church - the Ohrid Patriarchate.
In the 13th century Macedonia was con-
quered by Serbia and then in the 14th century
by the Ottoman Turks, whose rule stretched
through five centuries up to 1912 and the Bal-
kan wars. As a consequence of these wars, in
1913 the compact territory of Macedonia was
partitioned into three parts, which were given
to Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece. The Macedo-
nian people took part in the anti-fascist war
(1941-45) side by side with the other Yugoslav
peoples On the 2nd August 1944, at the meet-
ing of ASNOM (Anti-fascist Association for Na-
tional Liberation of Macedonia), the Vardar part
of Macedonia was proclaimed a legal state and
became one of the six federal republics of SFR
Yugoslavia. Following the referendum of 1991
the Republic of Macedonia has become an au-
tonomous and independent state.
Based on a rich spiritual and cultural tra-
dition, the Macedonian national awakening
took place during the second half of the 19th
century. This was a time of powerful national-
istic movements and figures that fought for the
revival of culture, such as the Miladinov broth-
ers, Grigor Prlichev, Rayko Zhinzifov, Kuzman
Shapkarev, Marko Tsepenkov and many others.
They paved the way for the national resistance
and liberation from the Ottoman occupation,
anticipating the coming of the apostle of the
Macedonian revolutionary movement - Gotse
Delchev, and the famous Ilinden Uprising of
1903, when one of the first republics on the
Balkans was proclaimed in Krushevo. Although
it was short-lived, its existence spoke of the
powerful desire of the Macedonian people for
The towns in Macedonia were formed in
the course of different periods: in antiquity,
the Middle Ages and the Ottoman occupation.
They all share such common features as: a city
wall, an upper and a lower gate, a market place,
caravanserais, inns, bridges, etc. These features
are typical of Skopje, Bitola, Ohrid, Veles, Shtip,
Kumanovo, Kratovo, Kriva Palanka, Sveti Nikole,
Radovish, Kavadartsi, Kichevo, Tetovo, Gostivar,
Strumitsa, Gevgelia, Krushevo, Resen and oth-
Numerous ancient towns flourished on
the territory of Macedonia. The town of Stobi
was situated in the vicinity of Veles. It was first
mentioned as a settlement in the 4th century
B.C. when Philip II opened a campaign against
the Paeonians. It was a prosperous town with
delicate mosaics, palaces, temples, baths and a
theatre. The ancient town of Heraclea Lyncaes-
tis was built south of Bitola. It thrived for over
1000 years, from the mid-4th century B.C. up
to the 6th century A.D. The town of Skupi near
Skopje was found at the time when Macedonia
was a Roman province and it was a religious
and economic centre of that area for many
years. Stobi, Heraclea and Skupi were highly
urbanised towns with streets, aqueducts, the-
atres, forums, baths and even villas with central
The main administrative centre of the Re-
public of Macedonia today is Skopje, with a
population of over 600,000 inhabitants. It is a
town with a 2,000 year long tradition and repre-
sents an exquisite mixture of Eastern and West-
ern cultures, a place where many roads and
civilisations have met and mingled. The name
of the ancient town of Skupi located between
the villages of Zlokuchani and Bardovtsi, was
first mentioned when the Romans conquered
the Dardanians and established their own rule
in the area. A disastrous earthquake destroyed
it in 518, but the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I,
who had been born in this region, soon raised
a new town, called Justiniana Prima, which in-
herited the ecclesiastic and legal significance of
its predecessor. After years of persistent sieges,
the Slavs eventually entered Skupi in the 7th
century. The town acquired its characteristic
oriental appearance after being conquered
by the Ottoman Turks in 1392. Nevertheless, it
has never lost its Christian features, which have
withstood all historical turmoils. Due to the
spreading of the plague this prosperous town
was fired in the 17th century by order of the
Austrian general Piccolomini, but by the 19th
century commerce in the town was flourishing
again and provided an excellent basis for the
revival of the Macedonian bourgeois class and
intelligentsia. After World War II Skopje became today can be found only in the Tiberius Lake in
the capital of the Socialist Republic of Mace- the Middle East and the Lake Balkal in Siberia.
donia, one of the federal states of Yugoslavia. The fish life in the lake, with its 17 distinct spe-
Today it is the capi­tal of the independent Re- cies, is truly amazing. The best known are the
public of Macedonia. two kinds of endemic Ohrid trout, letnica and
It is a city of new boulevards, bridges, belvica (Salmothymus ohridanus), and the eel,
shopping malls and cultural centres, but it has which can reach up to 1.5 m in length. These
retained the spirit of ancient times in the well- fish are a real challenge to anglers and a treat
known Old Bazaar and the numerous historical for gastronomes, especially for those who
vestiges from its past: the Church of the Holy know how to prepare the trout in the famous
Saviour (a me­dieval structure restored in the “Ohrid way”.
19th century), the church and Monastery of St. Ohrid is a town-museum and a cultural trea­
Panteleimon in Nerezi (12th century), the Sul- sury of Mace­donia. It has often been re­ferred to
tan Murat and Mustapha Pasha mosques (both as the “Balkan Jerusalem” Situated on the shore
from the l5th century), Kurshumli Caravanserai of the lake, it abounds in natural and spiritual
(16th century), the Stone Bridge (15th century, beauties. According to Herbert Read, an emi-
built on Roman foundations), the old fortress, nent British art historian, Ohrid is “a notable
Kale, and many other sites. bridge of Europen art”. The antique name of the
The old part of the town is undoubtedly town is Lychnidos. It became known for the
the main tourist at­traction, but Skopje has work of Ss. Clement and Nahum, the disciples
also many modem hotels, national restaurants of the first Slavic educators and enlighteners Ss.
where the visitors can enjoy traditional Mace- Cyril and Methodius. Ss. Clement and Nahum
donian hospitality, theatres, museums, galler- were the founders of the famous “Ohrid Liter-
ies, night­clubs, bars, casinos and numerous ary School” It was a highly devel­oped ecclesias-
cafes. tic, educational and literary centre, among the
With its 100,000 inhabitants Bitola is the first in Europe. Of the numerous cultural and
second largest town in Macedo­nia. It has pre- historical monuments in Ohrid, a few deserve
served its traditional ar­chitecture and the special attention. the Church of St. Sophia (11th
spirit of old Macedonian crafts and trades. The century), which is the most em­inent medieval
glamour of old times, when Bitola was a widely monument in Macedonia, the Church of the
known consular and diplomatic town (1870 - Holy Mother of God Peribleptos (13th century),
1913), can still be sensed in the air. Bitola has situated in the same complex as the famous
an excellent theatre, notable publishing houses Gallery of Icons, the church ofSt. John of Kaneo
and art galleries which are well worth seeing. (13th century), with a wonder­ful view of the
Some cultural events of world importance take lake, the Monastery of St. Nahum (10th cen­
place here. The closeness of Baba Mountain tury), built on a steep cliff above the lake 30 km
and the Pelister National Park provide excellent from the town, where St. Nahum lived, worked
conditions for the development of winter and and was buried. All these churches have valu-
summer tourism. able frescoes, rare examples of me­dieval art and
The town of Ohrid with its lake, its natural are the object of study for many internation­ally
beauties, and its historical and cultural heritage recognised historians of the medieval period.
is a true pearl of the Republic of Macedonia and The town is dominated by the monumental
enjoys the protection of UNESCO. The unique Fortress of Samuel situat­ed on the top of a hill.
flora and fauna of the lake make it one of the It was one of the official seats of the first Slavic
largest biological reservations in Europe and Macedonian state and has been the ancient
pose a rare curiosity for explorers, who have sym­bol of Ohrid ever since.
named the lake “a fresh-water sea”. It covers an The house of the Robevi and the house
area of 358 km2 and the greatest depth mea- of Urania, located in the town centre, are real
sured in it is 228.7 m. Its crystal clear water masterpieces of old town architecture from the
provides an extraordinary translucency of 215 19th century. The Old Bazaar is full of shops and
m. Some of the species, which live in the lake stores as well as craft workshops selling a wide
are relics of the ancient plant and animal life range of merchandise including the souvenirs
which used to thrive throughout Euro-Asia, but typical of this area. The famous Ohrid “pearl”
and silver filigree work. Every summer the town
hosts a prestigious international festival of clas-
sical music and theatre. Visitors who decide to
travel southward towards the Albanian border
will discover the unique splendour of the sur-
rounding countryside. The crystal-blue waters
of the lake mingle with mountain views, and
forests with crisp fresh air. The village of Ve-
lestovo, overlooking the town from the slopes
of the nearby mountain of Petrino, has a mag-
nificent view of the lake. It offers great potential
for picnics, village tourism and encounters with
typical Macedonian customs and traditions.
Further to the south are the lovely beaches of
Goritsa and St. Stephen. One of the finest parts
of the Ohrid riviera, the Gradishte peninsula
with its spacious and well-organised campsite,
lies between the two picturesque fishing vil-
lages of Peshtani and Trpeytsa. The restaurants
in these villages offer delicious fish specialities
and giomlezets (traditional pie baked on em-
bers) The area of St. Nahum, with its sandy
beaches, fresh-water springs the sources of the
Black Drim and the church and Monastery of
St. Nahum, near the Albanian border, is a real
heaven on earth. Camping lovers can find ac-
commodation in the exceptionally well-man-
aged campsite bearing the same name. This
part of Lake Ohrid shelters the most exotic
cave churches in Macedonia: The Holy Mother
of God, near the village of Peshtani, and St.
Stephen, near Goritsa. Ohrid offers excellent
accommodation in hotels, private houses and
camping sites situated on its finest beaches.
The second “pearl” of Lake Ohrid, the
town of Struga, which is only 14 km away from
Ohrid, is host to the international poetry fes-
tival known as the “Struga Poetry Evenings”.
This town arouses one’s admiration with its old
architecture and its many picturesque traces
of old tradition and culture. One of the most
beautiful rivers in Macedonia, the Black Drim,
having passed across the lake all the way from
its springs in St Nahum, emerges again from
the lake in Struga. The antique name of the
town is Enchalon (eel). This location has been
inhabited since prehistoric times. Struga is the
birthplace of the most eminent representatives
of Macedonian culture and national revival in
the 19th century, the Miladinov brothers. The
Church of the Holy Mother of God, the Mon-
astery in Kalishta with its exquisitely depicted
biblical scenes, and the cave church of St Atha-
nasius are only some of the places worth seeing in Struga and
its surroundings. This area is also renowned for its fine beaches,
excellent hotels and campsites.
The hotels in the town and its vicinity can welcome over
11,000 guests. Comfortable accommodation is also provided in
private houses where the hospitable hosts provide everything to
make their guests feel at home.
The basin of Lake Prespa is another popu­lar tourist desti-
nation. The extra­ordinary, wild and unique beauty of this lake
attracted the Macedonian tsar Samuel to build his first seat in
this place. The lake, which consists of two parts, Small and Big
Prespa, covers an area of 274 km2 and its greatest depth is 18.76
m. There are 11 distinct kinds of fish that live in the lake, among
which are carp and the small, but delicious fish called nivichka.
Lake Prespa offers peace and exotic nature and is ideal for a good
rest. Several camp sites, children’s resorts and hotels in the tour-
ist centres of Oteshevo and Pretor provide comfortable accom-
The smallest of the Macedonian tectonic lakes, Lake Doyran,
is situated in the southernmost part of the country. Its unique
features set it apart from the others. It measures only 9 km at its
longest, and 7 km at its broadest part, and covers an area of 43.1
km2 The greatest depth in the lake is 10 m. Due to its mild cli-
mate and warm water (28°C in summer), it is considered to have
medicinal qualities. This lake is teeming with fish: bleak, carp,
catfish and chub, a real angler’s paradise! The ancient method of
fishing with the aid of the cormorant, still practised on this lake,
is a rare sight that can seldom be found elsewhere in the world.
There are several hotels, resorts and camping sites on the shore
of this lake, too.
National folklore and traditional arts and crafts are still
cherished in Macedonia. Nume­rous folklore groups have made
Macedonian songs and dances famous throughout the world.
The Macedonian oral tradition played a significant role in the
continuation of folk poetry through centuries. The finely embroi-
dered national costumes have been an expression of women’s
individual artistic skills and of the collective aesthetic creativity.
These extremely attractive costumes can be seen during the Bal-
kan Folklore Festival, traditionally held in Ohrid every summer.
The embroidery in red and black linen, cotton or hemp thread
gives an original local colour to the costumes, cuisine cannot do without the national dishes shops offer their various products, ranging
which are still worn in some of the Macedonian which grace the table- yaniya, shketo, rice cas- from car parts to sports equipment and camp-
villages and on market days in Struga. The pal- serole, pindjur, baked beans, turli-tava, taratur, ing necessities.
ette of the national embroidery has been an grilled meat, fish dishes, pastrmaliya, and vari- The Republic of Macedonia keeps pace
inspiration to many contemporary painters. ous soups. Macedonia has exceptionally good with contemporary cultural developments in
The numerous old craft shops, some of which conditions for the production of quality wines, the world. Many internationally recognised
can still be seen in the old market places, such the best among many being the wines from the events are held in Macedonia and attract the
as coppersmiths, silversmiths, coopers, gun- Tikvesh region. attention of numerous local and foreign art-
smiths, kaftan tailors, carpenters, cobblers, Shopping centres and bazaars lined with ists from all fields of art and culture such as:
blacksmiths and goldsmiths, have played an shops well supplied with all kinds of goods classical music, jazz, theatre, fine arts, poetry,
important part in preserving the tradition and can be found in all towns and tourist centres folklore. Macedonia frequently hosts a variety
the spirit of Macedonian people. throughout Macedonia. Some of the local trade fairs, scientific congresses, symposia and
Macedonian cuisine specialities attract craftsmen offer their products, too such as: em- major sport competitions. Everyone in love
the attention of all foreign visitors. The Turkish broidery, filigree work, handmade leather, fur with natural and artistic rarities, history and old
chronicler Evlia Chelebi, who visited Macedonia and woollen products, pottery and gold and civilisations, mountains and lakes, hunting and
in the 17th century, notes that the people there silver jewellery. Macedo­nian vegetable mar- angling, old legends and new friendships, good
were “big gourmands” and especially mentions kets are traditionally teeming with all kinds of wine and fine food.
“the Lamb kebab prepared in a special way seasonal fruits and vegetables and imported
and the various fish specialities”. Macedonian products from all meridians. Many specialised WELCOME TO MACEDONIA!
Ministry of Economy:

tel: +389 2 3093 536; 3093 540

fax: +389 2 3093 540