After a devastating earthquake nearly destroyed Skopje in 1963, the international community came to the rescue, contributing aid in the form of money, materials, manpower... and art. A Contemporary Art Museum was among the principal projects for the post-earthquake city, and the artists of the world were determined to help make it something special.
Found on a hill in Skopje's Old Bazaar near the Kale Fortress, is Sveti Spas, or the Church of the Holy Savior. It's a small structure whose modest exterior belies the incredible artwork hiding within.
We had already hiked to Matka Canyon from the top of Mount Vodno, but made a return trip to check out Vrelo, which is Macedonia's most famous cave. Although its depths are yet to be fully explored, Vrelo is presumed by many to be the deepest underwater cave in the world.
South of Skopje, on the outskirts of an unassuming village called Markova Sučica, is the Markov Monastir. Built in 1346 by King Marko of Serbia, this medieval monastery has remained remarkably unaffected by the passage of time.
Just outside the city center, north of the Vardar River in a field which borders the barracks of the Macedonian army, is an ancient aqueduct. Its state of preservation is impressive, considering that it's been neglected for centuries.
Among the Ottoman-era buildings still standing in Skopje's Old Bazaar are three Turkish trading inns and an old covered market called the Bezisten. We visited them all, to see how these ancient buildings have been incorporated into the modern city.
Located in a grand neoclassical building set along the banks of the Vardar River, the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle opened its doors on September 8th, 2011: the twentieth anniversary of the country's independence from Yugoslavia.
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.