April 11, 2016
For 91 Days, we explored Macedonia: one of the most undiscovered corners in Europe. We didn’t know what to expect before arriving, but this small, land-locked country in the southern Balkans never stopped surprising us. Whether you’re planning your own journey to Macedonia, or are just interested in seeing what makes it such a special place, our articles and photographs might help you out. Start at the beginning of our adventures, visit our comprehensive index to find something specific, or choose one of the articles selected at random, below:
We spent three months exploring one of the most undiscovered corners in Europe: Macedonia. We didn't know what to expect before arriving, but this small, land-locked country in the southern Balkans never stopped surprising us. Whether hiking through pristine nature, fattening ourselves up on its incredible cuisine, learning about its history, or just meeting some of its famously hospitable people, we enjoyed every minute we spent in Macedonia.
Near Kumanovo, the tiny town of Staro Nagoričane is home to the 14th-century church of St. George, which possesses some of Macedonia's most important frescoes. We swung by on our way back to Skopje after visiting Kokino.
A short taxi ride brought us from Strumica to Bansko, a village which has long been known throughout Macedonia for its thermal mountain springs. After arriving, we visited the ruins of an ancient Roman bathhouse, before diving into a more modern pool.
Strumica is a nice city, but not one with a huge range of touristic sights. We spent our first day scouring the streets for things to do, but everything was closed. Everything except for one lonely church hidden in Strumica's Turkish quarter: the Sveti Petnaeset Tiveriopolski Sveštenomačnici, or Church of the Fifteen Holy Martyrs.
Skopje has only been the capital of an independent country for around twenty years. That's nothing in comparison with the 520 years it spent as part the Ottoman Empire, a period during which it was known as Üsküb. Five centuries of Muslim rule were enough to leave a lasting impression. With mosques, bath houses, tea gardens, nargile cafes, and the sound of dice rattling across backgammon boards, the neighborhood known as the Old Bazaar, or Čaršija, has retained much of its Turkish identity.
Stretched out along the Vardar River, Skopje is Macedonia's capital and by far its largest city. Well-connected to the rest of the country by highway, bus and train, and boasting a considerable number of museums, restaurants, and historic sights, it was the obvious choice as our base of operations.
Halfway up Ohrid's biggest hill, between the Church of Sv Jovan and Tsar Samoil's Fortress, is the archaeological site of Plaošnik. With the arrival of St. Clement in 893 AD, and the subsequent establishment of his monastery, this location became the center of Slavic learning. Today, the Church of St. Clement has been rebuilt and much of the site has been excavated, revealing long-concealed Byzantine mosaics.