Macedonia — Attractions
Although a comparatively small country, Macedonia offers a wide range of attractions, landmarks and fascinating places to visit. There are remnants of thousands of years of settlement everywhere, including ancient churches, mosques and monasteries tracing the religious development of the people, dramatic natural wonders recalling the violent volcanic origins of the region and lush national parks celebrating the diversity of the flora and fauna.
Skopje’s magnificent, ancient aqueduct lies northwest of downtown in Vizbegovo village and was in use until the 18th century. Its origins are lost in time, with some believing it to be Roman, while others thinking Byzantine or Ottoman. Over 50 of its arches still stand, and it’s thought to have brought water from the mountain spring at Gluvo to downtown.
Address: Skopje, Macedonia
Mustafa Pasha Mosque
One of the loveliest Muslim religious buildings in Skopje, Mustafa Pasha Mosque sits on a hillside overlooking the city and was constructed in the 15th century by order of the city’s Ottoman governor. Its structure is simple and elegant, and provides great views over the cityscape and countryside.
Address: Skopje, Macedonia
Set on a hill overlooking the Old Bazaar, Skopje Fort was built in the 6th century using massive stone blocks taken from remnants of the city after a disastrous earthquake. Much of the fort is in ruins, but its huge walls, gates and remaining buildings are well worth a visit for their atmosphere and age.
Address: Skopje, Macedonia
Daut Pasha Hamam
One of the oldest Turkish baths in the city, Daut Pasha Hamam’s cluster of domes and stone walls have, until recently, been welcoming visitors since the 15th century. Nowadays, it’s a fascinating art gallery and concert venue set close to other attractions such as the National Theatre and Skopje’s ancient Stone Bridge.
Address: Krushevska 1, Old Bazaar, Skopje
This incredibly ancient Paleolithic site was a place of religious ritual and sacrifice holding a temple, an observatory and one of the oldest theatres in the world. Set in Sopsko Rudare village close to Kratovo town, the site also boasts caves with impressive rock art. Recently discovered, this mysterious complex bears witness to the countless centuries of human settlement in the region.
Address: Sopsko Rudare, Kratovo
Built on the remains of a 4th century fortification, Samuil’s Fortress has loomed over Ohrid’s Old Town since the early Middle Ages and is now a major tourist attraction for it's UNESCO designation. The imposing Upper Gate leads visitors to the interior and the castle, constructed when Ohrid was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire, and has great views over the historic Old City.
Address: Orhid, Macedonia
Kezovica Mineral Spa
Set just outside the eastern Macedonian city of Stip, the Kezovica Mineral Spa boasts healing, slightly radioactive waters originating from a thermal spring. The system is the result of volcanic action in the area, and a visit to the baths is said to cure rheumatism, arthritis and nervous system troubles. More importantly, it’s a great place to relax and soak in a hot bath after a therapeutic massage.
Address: Kezovica, Stip, Macedonia
Kuklica Stone Town
Legends and tales adorn the 10 million year-old Kuklica Stone Town, a geological formation comprised of over 120 volcanic rock pillars resembling humans set on a river bank a few miles from the town of Kratovo. It’s an imposing sight caused by natural, tectonic erosion over millions of years, although the local villagers swear that new, even more lifelike figures appear every six years or so.
Address: Kuklica, nr Kratovo
Sveti Jovan Monastery
Still a working monastery, Sveti Jovan was established at the beginning of the 11th century in a sacred location where a miraculous icon of St John the Baptist was found. The structure has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the millennium and the church’s interior boasts an exquisitely carved altar screen containing hundreds of figures and animals. A small, silver reliquary is said to contain holy relics of St Jovan.
Address: Mavrovo National Park, Macedonia
One of the most atmospheric and remote monasteries in Macedonia, Trescavec sits on soaring Mount Zlatovrv amidst dramatic karst scenery 12 miles from Prilep. The 12th century religious site is known for its magnificent Byzantine frescoes, the earliest of which date back to the 15th century. The site is difficult to access and has only one monk in residence, but the journey is well worth the trouble for spectacular views over wild expanses of mountains.
Address: nr Prilep, Macedonia
Once the 19th century center of Ottoman diplomacy in the region, the city of Bitola is surprisingly rich in splendid neo-classical buildings telling a fast-fading tale of stately lives in luxurious surroundings. Known at the time as the City of Consuls, nowadays the area is a hub for locals passionate in protecting the Macedonian culture, especially in the folk music genre.
Address: Bitola, Macedonia
Lake Tikves and the Tikves Strict Natural Reserve
The Tikves Strict Natural Reserve is heaven for birders, home to no less than 23 species of hawks, eagles and other winged predators, many of which are rare or endangered. The reserve covers a large area of 10,000 hectares and is one of Europe’s most important ornithological sites. Set 19 miles southeast of Kavadarci, it’s a wilderness of forests, mountains and rushing rivers, with walking and hiking trails snaking through fauna-rich habitats. Lovely manmade Lake Rikves borders the reserve, set in a narrow valley between mountain peaks and swarming with fish including the legendary sheatfish, an unusually large member of the catfish family.
Address: Kavadarci, Macedonia
The Macedonian town of Gevgelija lies along the Vardar River banks on the border of Greece, and is home to another of the country’s ancient archaeological treasures, Vardarski Rid. Set on two hills just outside town, the site is 2,000 years old and boasts the remains of an ancient city including an acropolis. For complete contrast, the town has more casinos than any other settlement in Macedonia.
Address: southeastern Macedonia