All we’d heard of Kočani was that it has a reputation as the cleanest town in Macedonia; wonderful for residents, but insufficient to spark our curiosity. Instead, we turned our attention to a couple ancient ruins in the neighboring towns of Morodvis and Vinica.
A sprawling set of ruins just off the highway near the town of Gradsko, Stobi is the largest archaeological site in Macedonia. Thanks to its strategic location at the confluence of the rivers Crna and Vardar, Stobi was an important city for both the Paeonian Kingdom and the Romans, until being abandoned after a major earthquake in 518 AD.
Today, Lake Prespa is a place of almost perplexing tranquility, with nothing of the tourism that reaches the shores of nearby Lake Ohrid. But this hasn’t always been the case. The abandoned Hotel Evropa, on Prespa’s western shore, is proof that this was once a major tourist destination.
The only island in landlocked Macedonia is uninhabited… at least by humans. Located in the south of Lake Prespa, near the Albanian border, Golem Grad is frequently referred to as “Snake Island.”
There are a lot of amazing spots in Macedonia which few tourists know anything about. And there are some spots which few Macedonians know about. Near Kratovo is an ancient village carved out of rock. Completely unmarked and almost totally overlooked, Golemo Gradište was one of the most exciting discoveries we made during our 91 days in the country.
It was a long day of archaeology. In the morning, we hunted down Isar, an ancient settlement dating from the 7th century BC. Later, we drove over to the site of Vardarski Rid, on a hill overlooking Gevgelija. And our afternoon was spent at a museum which collects and displays the best archaeological finds from both sites.