The Balkans were a major theater of World War I, and fighting was especially intense in Macedonia, which was part of Serbia at the time. The Allies and the Central Powers sent tens of thousands of soldiers into the land, many of whom would never return home.
High on a ridge overlooking the town of Prilep are a set of medieval fortifications known as Marko’s Towers (Markovi Kuli). After exploring these expansive ruins, we would set off on a hike through the hills to the monastery of Treskavec.
For four days in July, the central Macedonian town of Prilep is taken over by Pivofest: an annual celebration of beer which has become the nation’s biggest festival. It’s not exactly the most traditional event on the calendar, but that wasn’t going to deter us from attending. We’re talking about a giant beer party, after all. Tradition can wait.
Ever since it was imported from the New World in the 16th century, tobacco has played a starring role in the economy of Prilep. This humid, low-lying valley town offers perfect cultivating conditions, and the high-quality product grown here has long been exported to firms from around the world. We took a taxi to the outskirts of town, to visit the museum at Prilep’s Tobacco Institute.