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OUR COUNTRIES: MACEDONIA

Macedonia is a landlocked Balkan nation of mountains, lakes and ancient towns with Ottoman and European architecture. The capital, Skopje, is known for its sprawling Old Bazaar quarter and historic buildings turned into museums, such as the National Gallery of Macedonia.

In the 15th century, it became the site of a Turkish bath complex. The southern city of Ohrid, located on the lake of the same name, has a medieval townscape and a hilltop castle.

 

Roman and Ottoman history, Macedonia has a fascinating past and a complex national psyche. Glittering Lake Ohrid and the historic waterside town of Ohrid itself have etched out a place for Macedonia on the tourist map, but this small nation is far more than just one great lake.
Skopje may be the Balkanʼs most bonkers and unfailingly entertaining capital city thanks to the government-led building spree of monuments, museums and fountains. What has emerged is an intriguing jigsaw where ancient history and buzzing modernity collide.

 

What to visit

 

Kokino

Kokino

Kokino (Macedonian: Кокино) is a Bronze Age archaeological site approximately 30 km far from the town of Kumanovo and about 6 km away from the Serbian border. The Kokino “megalithic observatory” should be distinguished from the wider Kokino archaeological site. While the observatory consists of two platforms of a combined area of about 5000 square meters, the site covers about 30 hectares. In this area, an abundant amount of fragments of ceramic vessels dated as far back as into the period from the 19th to 11th centuries BC were found as well asa mould for casting bronze axes and a pendant. The remnants of vessels filled with offerings were discovered deposited in cracks in the rocks, which gave rise to the interpretation of the site as a “holy mountain”.

Church “St. John at Kaneo”

Church “St. John at Kaneo”

One of the most magnificent churches in all of Macedonia stands right above a small fishing settlement, on a cliff rising up from Lake Ohrid; St. Jovan Kaneo represents a combination of Byzantine and Armenian architectural styles.

 

What to eat
 

Macedonians are big gourmands. The Macedonian cuisine is representative of the Balkan cuisine reflecting Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern influences and, to a lesser extent, Italian, Mediterranean and Hungarian ones. A relatively warm climate provides excellent growing conditions for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits. Thus, Macedonian cuisine is particularly diverse.

Tavche Gravche (skillet beans /тавче гравче) is a local traditional dish. Boiled beans mixed with onion, peppers, tomato, oil, flour and various spices baked in a pottery saucepan. Ajvar (ayvar/ајвар) is a relish made principally from red bell peppers, with eggplant, garlic and chilli pepper. It’s traditionally made home all over the country at the beginning of fall.

Sarma (сарма) is the name of minced meat (usually beef, pork or veal) mixed with rice, onions, and various spices, including salt, pepper and local herbs, which are then rolled into large grape or cabbage leaves.

Tulumba is a popular dessert found in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire. These small, ridged, tubed fried dough rolls are soaked in honey and sometimes sprinkled with crushed nuts.

Rakija is the most famous alcoholic drink in the Balkan and each country has its own Rakija type. Rakija comes from distilling fermented fruit and the Macedonian Rakija is made from grapes so it is also known as Lozova Rakija (Grape Rakija).

 

Did you know?
 

  • According to NASA, Kokino is the fourth most ancient astronomic observatory in the world; with the three most ancient being Abu Simbel, Egypt; Stonehenge, Great Britain; and Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Kokino is located approximately 30 km far from the town of Kumanovo, and about 6 km away from the Serbian border.
  • Ohrid Lake is the oldest and one of the deepest lakes in Europe (max depth 288 m or 940 ft). It is estimated 4 million years old and has 200 endemic species that haven’t been found at any other place in the world. It was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1979.
  • Mother Theresa of Calcutta was born in Skopje, Macedonia. Nevertheless, she was Albanian by ethnicity at the time of her birth in 1910. Today, there is a museum house dedicated to her in the center of the capital city of Skopje.
  • Macedonia was the only country to remain in peace during the break-up of Yugoslavia.
  • There are more than 50 lakes and 34 mountains higher than 2,000 meters. It is the country with the fifth highest average elevation in Europe (741m), following Andorra (highest), Switzerland, Austria and Turkey.
  • The Cyrillic alphabet, official in Macedonia, is based on the alphabet developed in the 9th century by two Macedonian (Region) brothers, St Cyril (thus – Cyrillic) and St Methodius. It was taught by their disciples at a monastery in Ohrid from whence it spread across the eastern Slavic world.
  • Alexander the Great, king of the former Kingdom of Macedonia, was the first world conqueror who extended his empire across Greece and Persia to India and Egypt. During his time, the Kingdom of Macedonia was the most powerful state in the world; but after his death, the empire fell apart and it became the first Roman province in 146 BC.
  • The cave Peshna in Makedonski Brod was described by The New York Times as looking “exactly like Helm’s Deep from The Lord of the Rings.”

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