The Republic of Macedonia
In the very heart of the Balkan Peninsula, there is a small mountain country – Macedonia. It is one of the cleanest countries in the Balkans and one of the youngest countries in Europe. The country attained world fame thanks to its mountain scene, as well as rivers and deep lakes, among which Lake Ohrid is considered to be the most beautiful. In ancient times, the Macedonian Civilization flourished on the territory of modern Macedonia. Since that time its rich culture and history have attracted a lot of tourists to the country.
Macedonia’s favourable location between Eastern and Western Europe has influenced the culture of the country and temper of its people. As far back as the 5th century, Macedonia was inhabited by the Slavs, who reclaimed much of its land. On the territory of the country you can also see Turkish settlements left after the Ottoman War. The Serbian, Bosnian and Croats are among the Macedonia’s population as well. Different nations have been closely intertwined in the country thus forming such a unique multi-coloured culture. The wealth of the country is reflected in its numerous ancient monuments: amphitheatres and fortresses decorated with frescoes and adorned with mosaic. These old constructions bring us back to the times of Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great, as well as give us evidence of the great influence of Macedonia in the 4th century BC, as well as in Greek and Roman periods.
Macedonia is considered to be the country where the Slavic writing system was born. In fact, it was a country where legendary apostles Cyril and Methodius had created the new alphabet, a prototype of the Cyrillic Alphabet. As early as the 10th century, the first Slavic university was founded. It was located in Skopje, a capital of Macedonia. Today the city offers you to visit many beautiful temples, including Ascension of Jesus Church C14th, one of the most famous sights. Kale Fortress is a well visited tourist destination in the old part of Skopje. Here you can also see a renewed 6th century early-Byzantine fortress, Turkish mosques and the famous Daut Pasha Amam built in 1466. Both oriental Old Bazaar and Kursumli An, a Turkish coaching inn, make the capital a special one. Ruins of Skupi, an ancient city, located not far from the capital are worth visiting as well. In Macedonia, you are also advised to visit the city of Ohrid, located on the shore of Lake Ohrid, and its wonderful attraction – Saint Panteleimon’s Monastery. Over eight hundreds of icons made in the Byzantine style C6-14th are kept in this monastery.
Lake Ohrid is a great example of the picturesque local nature. You are well advised to experience its surroundings and the lake itself, considered the cleanest one in Europe, as well as the deepest and oldest lake in the Balkans. Holiday season lasts here from May to September, at this period of time Ohrid beaches are full of people – and summer cafes and cosy restaurants offer their services. Fishing is the most popular activity among urban population. For centuries, citizens of Ohrid have created Ohrid pearls – unique jewellery made of nacre trout scale.
Popularity of mountain activities and resorts of Macedonia are down to the fact that the country is located among mountain ranges: in the centre and in the east – the Rhodopes, in the far west – the Pindus. Local resorts offer tourists great ski tracks that meet requirements of both professional sportsmen and those non-professionals to be fond of winter activities. Mavrovo Resort located 70 kilometres from the capital provides great conditions for winter activities. In summer, you can go hunting of fishing. Another famous mountain resort of Macedonia is Kruševo, where along with modern tracks and comfortable ski lifts, great cycle trails and footpaths are available. Popova Šapka 1845 meters high is another popular ski resort.
Macedonia is famous for its national cuisine that has been influenced by culinary traditions of many countries. Macedonian cuisine abounds in fruit and vegetables. National dishes are quite various – all cooked using much oil. Dishes made of meat, generally mutton and beef, and seafood are in favour on the territory of Macedonia. Ohrid trout is popular as well. The most popular Macedonian snack food – kaymak, a kind of cultured milk; and burek, a kind of pastry with cheese or meat filling, can be bought by you almost everywhere on the territory of Macedonia. Delicious Macedonian wine is famous far beyond the country’s boundaries. It has fine aroma and high quality.
The country annually hosts various festivals and fairs, among which Summer Festival, Balkan Festival and Ohrid Festival of Folk Songs are the most popular. Struga Poetry Evenings, May Opera Evenings and International Jazz Festival in Skopje are famous as well.
Macedonia is a unique combination of oriental and occidental cultures, picturesque natural landscapes and ancient architectural monuments. Macedonia is beautiful any time of year – among its numerous faces you can find something very special and interesting.
Administrative division — Republic of Macedonia
Skopje Population: 474889
- Bitola Population: 95385
- Kičevo Population: 31123
- Kočani Population: 34258
- Kriva Palanka Population: 14558
- Kumanovo Population: 76272
- Lipkovo Population: 28102
- Ohrid Population: 42003
- Shtip Population: 48279
- Struga Population: 37387
- Strumica Population: 45508
- Tetovo Population: 52915
- Veles Population: 43716