We crossed the border between Macedonia and Albania Ohrid and the lake shore. On one side you can see Albania, and the shore is full of cold war bunkers with the purpose of defending the lake against attacks. When you cross the border, the landscape changes. It is quieter on the side of Macedonia, and you can see lots of Byzantine churches and pretty villages. The border is situated in the middle of nowhere. If you have spent less than 10 days in Albania, you can recover the $ 10 you left at the border to enter, we were there for just a couple of days but as we had no receipt we could not order anything. Nor could we change money once we were in Macedonia, as the currency of each country does not change outside its borders. We would have had to change to euros and then the Albanian LEK euros for MKD, the Macedonian denars. At the border they were fast and they treated us very well. The Albanian bus leaves you about 500 meters from the border but on the side of Macedonia, there are not many buses. A taxi to Ohrid costs is a little more expensive but it is a fasteroption.
The Ohrid fortress is one of the largest still-preserved medieval fortifications in the Republic of Macedonia. During Samuel's reign (976-1014), and after his successor's reign until 1018, Ohrid was the capital of the first state of Medieval Macedonia. Before and after Samuel and his successors this fortress was destroyed and later rebuilt. With Samuel's guidance, the medieval Ohrid became a true metropolis. Its strength, in addition to serving as the city's defense against enemies, was also to be a populated area. The ruins are well preserved if we're talking about the walls and the views of the village, or the lake. They're magnificent.
I was on a tour with a trip organized by Macedonia and along with other cities, had the good fortune to visit this city with wonderful views of the lake and this amazing Orthodox Church. I recommend everyone to visit Macedonia sometime in their life because they will turn out to be really surprised.
Bitola is an ancient city, and there are traces of life from over 5000 years ago. It is in this meadow where the Lyncestis tribe is installed, whose main center is Heraclea. Founded in the mid-4th century by Philip II of Macedonia, the city of Heraclea passed under Roman rule in the year 168 BC. It was at this time the city Pelagonia became the heart of the region and ancient Macedonia became the only Roman province of the Balkan Peninsula. Heraclea is in one of the most used roads, the Via Egnatia, which runs from the Adriatic Sea to the Aegean Sea, and develops crossing communication and business. In the ruins is the amphitheater and Roman baths. Entrance is 100 MKD, which is 1.50 but if you want to take photos they charge 10 euros! The mosaics of the ancient basilica are exceptional. It's a shame because they are left in the sun and lose their colors. There is also a small museum with objects.
Lake Matka is one of the most popular places for the citizens of Skopje to relax or do activities. But not like a vast lake that you may imagine. Actually, it is narrow and highlights the high cliffs of the mountains. The boat ride over to visit the small cave costs 5 euros per person and the guide speaks English, the hours are from 10 to 14 hours and it leaves from Planinski Sun Matka and the church of San Andrés. The tour lasts two hours and is really worthwhile. We entered via the Treska River and the canyon formed by its waters. It is impressive, not as much as in Mexico but enough to remind you. On the banks occasionally you can see summer cottages, but they are now empty. There are also many ducks swimming and you can see hikers walking along the paths that occasionally overlook the shore. Some of these roads lead to more than a dozen churches and monasteries in the area, some are abandoned but others are still in use.
The clock tower is an architectural characteristic of every 17th century city. Their appearance and height reflected the range of the city, its wealth, and its political and economic power. In Bitola, the clock tower was built strategically in the center of the city and the market. The first tower was a simple bell which chimed each hour. It was smaller and surrounded by small shops and private homes. Near the tower is the large main mosque Isac Tchelebi, Yeni Mosque, the old church San Dimitri and the market. For 70 years, this clock has rung every 6 hours with 6 different melodies and the music used to change depending on what was happening in the city. For example, Mozart during the night. The tower is 32m high. Until 1912, it showed the hours "to the Turkish" and then "to the Frankish", ie European, with a French clock mechanism.
Macedonia is a country with a special flavor, a bitter struggle between modernity and tradition. The strong conservation of traditions are especially a breath of fresh air to the globalization that the rest of Europe is experiencing. I'll try to share many places and restaurants, so everyone can explore this small charming country in the middle of the Balkans. There are a number of traditional plates from Macedonia. During the summer, because of the heat, the cuisine is based predominantly on vegetables and fruits, mixed with white cheese that will delight even those who consider themselves carnivores by nature. In the pictures you can see Tavche Gravche (light baked beans and very delicious) and other delicious vegetables, with a special flavor, thanks to the intense daily sun.
It was constructed in the year 1911 by Abdul Kerim. It was finished before the 1st world war, the architects made Vienna and Italy. It was made available to the Army of the Republic of Macedonia, but today is owned by the Ministry of Culture. It is unique in the city and architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its aesthetics and history set it apart from the other buildings in the city. It carries the characteristics of European architecture for its plan, its decoration and its composition, but also includes oriental elements. Inputs, the central windows of the outside of the north and south and bays on the top floor are bows of Ottoman architecture. It is a mix between a palace and a fort. The structure is huge, but details are small, almost luxurious, which is surprising.
The Church of Santa Sophia is situated in the city of Ohrid, in the South West of the Republic of Macedonia, on the shores of Lake Ohrid. It is one of the most important monuments to be found in the country. It was built during the Middle Ages and it is very well preserved. Along with the other churches of the city, it is part of the UNESCO world heritage sites, which ¡are protected and preserved. Outside the church, there is a small amphitheater for groups that spend the summer there, and organize sound and light shows on the walls of the church. It was formerly the seat of the Archbishop of Ohrid, but was later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire invasion. The interior of the church features beautiful frescos from the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries that are works of art and cultural gems for the country. Most of the church today dates back to the eleventh century, but additional parts were added later. The church appears on the 1000 dinar notes of Macedonia.
It's very interesting, I'm from Costa Rica, and I had the opportunity to participate in the Folklorico Festival of the Balkans, with the folk group Earth Coloradeña, which appears in these videos. For our group it was a great experience, because we got to see the beauty of the countries of Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and also Italy.
This road, indicated with blue signs, is only 8 km long is difficult to walk as it has an altitude of nearly 600 meters. Usually, an average hiker can walk 100 meters per hour, therefore it would take around 6 hours to climb. The starting point of this trail is also the center of the village of Skrebatno, towards the direction of the mountain of Belo Orle, almost 1200 meters high. There you can see wonderful views over the region of Lake Ohrid and the town below. You are warned, there is nothing on the way to eat and nothing more than streams with fresh water to drink. You then follow a rockier path to the monastery of St Naum. Not to be confused with the church of the same name, one of the jewels of Ohrid, which is about 20 km away from here. Going down, you reach the village of Leskoec which has two parts, the old and the new and there you can see the lovely church of St Nicholas and some XV century frescoes. The new village of Leskoec is around 3 km from Ohrid, if you still have the strength to walk there!
This is the easiest of the trails in the Ohrid region, it's only six miles long and a little less than three hundred meters of ascent, for a total of four hours of trail. The trail starts just before reaching the monastery of St Petka, above the town of Velgoshti, northwest of Ohrid. It continues to rise in arid terrain, until the Velgoshka river, which gives its name to the town. After this, the trail leads down to the lake.
The highest point of the tour is the monastery of St Nicholas, which was recently built in this holiest of regions for Orthodox Macedonia. There's also a very open view to Ohrid and its region. From there, it's an easy descent to reach the village of Ramne and the church of St Anatase. All churches in the region of Ohrid are part of the UNESCO World Heritage and are of great historical and artistic interest as they have frescoes and images of saints inside of them. It's a shame on that the churches are almost all closed except during services, and therefore can only be seen from the outside.
Located right in front of the old baths, this mosque is currently the Art Gallery of Cifte Aman. This modern square ceiling mosque was built in 1802 as the original structure was burned when General Piccolomini took Skopje in 1689. The unusual three-nave basilica form and flat roof (instead of domed) comes from the fact that it was built on the monastery of St. George, the main monastery in Skopje before the arrival of the Turks.
The Fortress of Skopje is known as the Kale. It offers good views of the city and it's free to enter. Of course, that is if you are allowed to go in. When we went, the police would not let us inside and we had to settle with viewing the exterior, which is really where all its beauty lies because supposedly the interior is more like a park. It really reminded us a lot of Ohrid. The importance of different central routes since ancient times forced the construction of a defence fortress in this strategic area. Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians, and Turks used it as a defence, but the relentless enemy was the earthquake of 1963 that left it in bad shape. N 42 ° 00,128 'E 21 ° 25,949'
The House Danabach, originally the property of the famous Danabach family of Bitola, was built in the first ten years of the twentieth century. Transformed into a popular museum, it´s now the headquarters for several political parties. It is one of the finest examples of urban architecture from the beginning of the twentieth century. Set a little away from the street, the house is hidden from the curious eyes of pedestrians by large pines. Its architecture shows the influence of Western Europe in Macedonia. The Doric columns, canopies and balconies with decorations above the windows are examples of Classicism and the entrance is embossed with large ceramic and marble staircases. The pastel colors remind you of the beautiful porcelains that the rich family imported from Thessaloniki.
Veles station is located in the center of Madedonia. It basically forms the intersection of the two main railway lines in the country. One out of Bitola from the southwest to the northwest, reaching its final destination in Bulgaria and the other out of Belgrade, Serbia, passing through the capital, Skopje, continuing in the direction of Thessaloniki, Greece. No one however considered the fact that people might need to make a change and that the schedule had to make it convenient for them. Therefore we had to spend a night at the station, coming from Bitola, before catching the train to Thessaloniki. But the people were very helpful and we were given a room where we could lay down our sleeping bags. The next day they helped us catch the train. To Skopje, from Veles takes a couple of hours. The bus takes the same time but the trains seemed to me more comfortable.