The Republic of Macedonia, or simply Macedonia, is a landlocked country in southeast Europe. This relatively new country received its independence in 1991 after it broke away from former Yugoslavia. Due to its location in the Balkan Peninsula and its rich history, the country has many natural and heritage attractions that are slowly gaining popularity amongst international tourists. With new steps being taken by the government to improve the tourism infrastructure and highlight the various attractions, it is believed that tourism in Macedonia has increased threefold in the last decade. Macedonia is blessed with beautiful natural terrain. Mountainous territories, valleys, deep basins, lakes, and the Vardar River mark this Balkan nation. The country is known for its beautiful flora and fauna. Tourists visiting Macedonia are greeted by a wealth of natural beauty. In this blog, we will lay out 10 of the best tourist attractions that Macedonia has to offer.
Stip is the largest city in Eastern Macedonia region and is a tourist attraction for its scenic beauty and historic architecture. Attractions in Stip include the magnificent mid-14th-century Holy Savior Church on the bank of the Otinja River. The mid-19th-century St. Bogorodica Basilica is popular for its impressive wood furnishings and beautiful frescoes. The 16th-century Bezisten – old Turkish bazaar – still stands but is used as an art gallery. The city of Stip and its surroundings is home to many ancient ruins. The ruins of the ancient Roman town of Astibo are located within a kilometer of the city center. You can also visit the ruins of the Isar Fortress and the 14th-century St. Archangel Michael Church on a hilltop close to the city center. Other attractions in Stip include the Clock Tower, the Kezhovica Spa, the Husa Medin-Pasha Mosque, and the National Museum.
Kumanovo is one of the most cosmopolitan cities of Macedonia. This growing industrial and cultural center has preserved many of its historic structures amidst fast-paced modernization. One of the first places any tourist will visit in Kumanovo is its Central Square. The square has many beautiful buildings and monuments. From the old Napredok cinema to the iconic fountain, the square has remained the heart of the city for many years. Within walking distance from the city center are the mid-18th-century Eski Mosque, the 19th-century St. Nikola Church, and the early-20th-century Holy Trinity Church. The most popular attraction of the city is located about 24 km from the city center – the ancient Kokino Megalithic Observatory. This near 4000-year-old observatory is one of the most important ancient observatories in the world and is even recognized by NASA.
- Wineries of Macedonia
Macedonia has some of the finest vineyards and wineries in southeastern Europe. There are 3 major wine growing regions in Macedonia – the Pelagonisko-Poloski region in the west, the Povardarje-Vardar region in central Macedonia, and the Pcinja-Osogovo region in the east. The Pelagonisko-Poloski region vineyards include those in Bitola, Ohrid, Prilep, Kicevo, Prespa, and Tetovo. The central region has vineyards in Tikvesh, Skopje, Veles, and Ovcepole. The vineyards in the eastern region are at Kratovo, Kumanovo, and Pijanecho. The regions produce both red and white wines including Vranec, Merlot, Cabarnet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zilavka, and Muscat Ottonal, to name a few. You can also take tours of some of the wineries like the Popova Kula Winery, Popov Winery, and the Skovin AD Winery.
The town of Krusevo is situated on the west central region of Macedonia. It is the highest town in the country, at an altitude of 1350 m above sea level. Krusevo is one of the most historically and culturally significant towns of the country. It was the center of uprising against the Ottoman regime and had once declared itself an independent republic. The country still pays its respects to the fallen heroes on August 2 every year – the traditional Macedonian Independence Day – with celebrations and parades. Krusevo is also known for its traditional architecture as it has retained the same layout for over a century. It is an excellent place to admire traditional Macedonian architecture. Other attractions of Krusevo include the Museum of Ilinden Uprising, St. Jovan Church, Meckin klamen Monument, and the Nikola Martinovski Gallery.
- Monastery of St. Naum
The Monastery of St. Naum is located on a rocky cliff about 29 km from Ohrid. It is set amidst a beautiful scenery with Lake Ohrid at one side and the River Drim on the other. The monastery was built in the 17th century, replacing a church that was demolished during the Ottoman regime. However, the present building is from several renovations and expansions over the following centuries. This impressive church is best known for its stunning frescoes. The monastery is a popular day trip from Ohrid for the locals as well as tourists. You can take a boat along the neighboring River Drim or drive from Ohrid to this picturesque locale.
Skopje is the capital and the largest city in Macedonia. It is the birthplace of globally-acclaimed humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa. The city never ranked very high in tourism, prompting the government to launch the Skopje 2014 project in 2010. The project brought a dynamic change in the infrastructure and the look of the city. The eye-catching architecture and abstract art forms have brought a radical change from the provincial look this city once had. Skopje has not seen such a frantic pace of architectural growth since the days of the Ottoman rule! Skopje was architecturally popular for its neo-classical buildings. Unfortunately, a massive earthquake in 1963 leveled almost whole of the city. What we see today is the newfound Skopje, dotted with some of the preserved medieval buildings from its prized past. Major attractions include the Skopje Fortress, Stone Bridge, and the Macedonia Square.
Bitola is the 2nd largest city in the country. The city is nicknamed the ‘city of consuls’ as it has been the home to many European consulates since the 19th century. The consuls brought a very European atmosphere to this city, influencing the local elite. Bitola, for this reason, is sprinkled with many beautiful neo-classical houses. Ottoman architecture, Romantic architecture, the neighboring Pelister National Park, stunning outdoors, plenty of shopping opportunities, and a vibrant nightlife make Bitola a city packed with activities and attractions. Attractions in Bitola include the historic covered bazaar. Built during the 15th century, it is one of the oldest surviving structures in the city that is still in use. Those interested in history can visit the ruins of the ancient settlement of Heraclea Lyncestis – located about 2 km south of the city center. Bitola has a number of mosques, reminiscent of the Turkish reign.
- Mavrovo National Park
Mavrovo National Park is the largest national park of Macedonia. It was established in 1949 and spreads nearly 192,000 acres from Lake Mavrovo right up to the Albanian border. The park is covered by lush greenery in the warmer months. The lake becomes a popular place for fishing, boating and swimming during those months. A very popular sight of Lake Mavrovo is the partially submerged St Nicholas Church. This church was purposely flooded when this lake was dug in 1953, but has since been partially visible, creating a surreal sight. During the winter months – between November and April – Mavrovo National Park turns into one of the best skiing destinations of Macedonia. The park also has several well-marked hiking trails which pass through some of the most scenic parts of the region. Details of the trails can be found from the park information centers.
- Matka Canyon
Matka Canyon is located about 17 km southwest from the capital Skopje. It is the most popular outdoor destination of the region and is ideal for a day trip. The Matka Lake at the site is the oldest artificial lake in the country. It is flanked by steep gorge walls perforated with several natural caves and medieval monasteries. Visitors usually rent boats to explore this exceptional scenic beauty. Vrelo Cave – the most popular of these caves – is one of the deepest submerged caves in the world. There are 3 monasteries in Matka Canyon. The 14th-century St. Andrew’s Monastery is located right on the gorge. The Matka Monastery, also from the 14th century, is on the left bank of River Treska and is renowned for its frescoes. The St. Nicholas Monastery, from around the 17th century, is located on a cliff with stunning panoramic views.
Located on the southwestern border of Macedonia and on the northeastern shore of Lake Ohrid is the most popular tourist city of Macedonia – Ohrid. Ohrid, along with Lake Ohrid, is one of the very few regions in the world that is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for both its natural and cultural sites. It is one of the oldest regions of human settlement, with the lake believed to be over 3 million years old. Ohrid ranks high in tourist footfall not only for its stunning natural beauty but also for tremendous historic significance. It is no wonder Ohrid is one of the first places tourists choose when visiting Macedonia. The city was once called the Balkan Jerusalem for its 365 churches! Although only a fraction of those survive today, some are certainly worth a visit. The city also has an ancient theater from 200 BC!
Originally posted 2017-03-31 05:58:19.