Macedonia - A Land of Contrasts
Land of Contrasts
The Land -- The Heritage
Macedonia is a beautiful land. It is also a an economically poor country with many problems still to be solved. To the left is a picture of Matka Canyon [near Skopje] reflected in the lake created by a small hydroelectric dam.
The Slavic heritage centers on its religious monuments, some of which date from the 12th century. The monks often selected absolutely stunning locations for their monasteries and monastery churches.
Panteleimon at Nerezi
Panteleimon monastery church is situated on Vodno mountain overlooking Skopje. The frescoes inside the church are among the most famous in Macedonia.
There is a restaurant next door, which, in the summer, spills out over the terrace below the church. Whether during the day or in the evening, the views from the terrace are panoramic, including Skopje and the surrounding mountain ranges. We've had several very pleasant meals there, often enjoying traditional music with the delicious Macedonian food and wine.
The Land - II
I'll share some pictures of the annual Dolneni music festival in a later chapter. To the left are fields near where the festival is held.
The landscape in Macedonia ranges from plains, to mountains, to rolling hills, river valleys and spectacular canyons. It is not difficult to understand why Macedonia is often called the "Pearl of the Balkans"
Sveti Jovan Bigorski
The contrast between the land and the heritage is very obvious at the monastery of Sveti Jovan Bigorski. [near Debar in Western Macedonia]. Inside is an intricately carved "iconostasis" - outside the land of Macedonia!
We were fortunate enough on our 1997 trip to Macedonia to be invited to stay for an evening prayer service chanted by the monks. [and one nun!] The orthodox service was in Old Church Slavonic. Although some of the monks were dressed in blue jeans and plaid shirts the sound transported us to a distant past.