Northern Macedonia: between nature and cultures - The360 Travel

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  • Sunday, December 15, 2019

    Northern Macedonia: between nature and cultures

    Northern Macedonia: between nature and cultures

    In cramped territory of mountains, rivers and lakes, between the Aegean Sea and the Adriatic Sea, North Macedonia has an immense historical heritage built over millennia of cultural, ethnic, artistic and religious brewing.

    Skopje, the capital

    Surrounded by hills and crossed by Vardar, the capital of Northern Macedonia is emblematic of the cultural mix of the country. On the city center stands the huge statue of Alexander the Great on horseback, but also dozens of statues of all Macedonian heroes for millennia. The old stone bridge, which is more than 500 years old, leads to the Turkish district with lively streets that resemble those of Istanbul. On the heights of Mount Vodno stands the millennium cross, several centuries-old Orthodox churches and monasteries, the site of St. Panteleimon, as well as high-altitude hiking trails with outstanding views.

    Matka, the canyon with emerald waters

    30 minutes from Skopje, the Matka Canyon is home to the country's first hydroelectric power station, which has since become a museum. The place is now reserved for the resort at the edge of high granite cliffs. We canoe or bathe, we enjoy the coolness in this country where the thermometer goes up to 45 ° C in summer and down to -25 ° C in winter. There are also international kayak competitions in open water.

    Ohrid, at the sources of Macedonia

    Archaeological excavations revealed that the Macedonian people originated from the shores of Ohrid and Prespa lakes. The sources date back to the Bronze Age. Off Lake Ohrid is a village on stilts dating back to the 12th century BC. In Ohrid itself, one must see the exceptional Cathedral of Saint Sophia (5th century), the sublime monastery of Saint Naum (11th century), the almost intact Roman arena (2nd century). The city also offers an environment popular with painters and mosaicists. And at dusk, on the transparent lake surrounded by so many vestiges, one can admire the silent ballet of the swans.

    Radozda and Kurbinovo, under the aegis of the archangels

    The discovery of churches and monasteries remains one of the strongest experiences one can experience in North Macedonia. High place of original Christianity, they have preserved the mysticism, the intimidating beauty of the frescoes painted on stone and precious icons, and even the tradition of rock hermitage inseparable from Eastern Christendom. Above the fishing village of Radozda, near the city of Struga, also known for its international festival of poetry, the troglodyte church of St. Michael the Archangel (thirteenth century), carved in the cliff, offers a superb example of this immemorial tradition. Just as, in the stone village of Kurbinovo above Lake Prespa, the church of St. George the Archangel and its moving frescoes of the twelfth century.

    Tikves, vineyard and tobacco paradise

    The fertility of Macedonian lands is famous since the Romans. After supplying the Camel and Kent brands with tobacco, the factories are now partly owned by the giant Philip Morris, but the peasants have retained their land and their know-how. Ditto for the wine. French agencies organize special wine tours to discover the ancient red varieties stanouchina, prokoupets, vranets, kratochia and kadarka, or white varieties smederevka or joupyanka whose culture was provided by the Orthodox monks during the Turkish period. The Tikves region, in the center of the country, with its vineyards and tobacco plantations as far as the eye can see, is definitely worth a visit.

    The lynx of the Mavrovo Nature Park

    Macedonia remains today a sort of terra incognita for scientists. All endemic animal and plant species have not been identified and some ecosystems remain unknown. The wild beauty of the mountains is difficult to access. Yet it is in this extravagant nature that beats the heart of this unique territory of the southern Balkans, whose lynx is the animal totem. The species still lives in freedom in the mountain of Galicnica, in the park of Mavrovo, as well as bears, wolves and horses in abundance, without forgetting endemic species of reptiles and birds as well as the canine race of Sharplanina, clean instead. As are, among others, many species of trees, flowers and plants.

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