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Macedonia - The Unknown Balkan State

When Lake Ohrid glistens in the setting sun, Macedonia transforms into a fairyland with vast lakes, green forests and magnificent mountain ranges. The inhabitants' friendliness makes the country an extraordinary travel destination.

Architecture at Lake Ohrid in Macedonia

Geography - Landlocked country in Southern Europe

The former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia shows a new face as the Republic of Macedonia. The Balkan state in the south of Europe is a landlocked country between Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece, which is divided into the mountainous Western Macedonia and the flat Eastern Macedonia. Besides the capital of Skopje, worthwhile cities are Bitola, Prilep and Ohrid. The climate is warm temperate with hot summers and cold winters.

Skopje's bridges

Nature - The "Macedonian Sea"

Macedonia is mountainous in the south and west but hilly and fertile in the east. The highest peak is Mount Korab wit a height of 2,767 metres. About a third of the country is forested. Mixed forests with chestnut trees, oaks and European beeches dominate the scenery. These forests are populated by deer and mouflons. Near the great lakes, you find fig and walnut trees. Macedonia has over 50 lakes. The most beautiful and best-known one is the crystal clear Lake Ohrid (350 km²). With a depth of 300 metres, it is the deepest lake in the Balkans and is also called the "Macedonian Sea". Lake Prespa and Matka Canyon are also worth a visit. The country's longest river is Vardar River, which flows through the capital of Skopje. It accommodates two great harbours.

Macedonia's Lake Ohrid

Natural sights - Lake idyll and star-lit sky

Lake Ohrid is one of the most popular destinations in Macedonia. Only a small number of people know that the lake is several millions of years old. It is, in fact, Europe's oldest inland water and its water is still crystal clear and ideally suited for going bathing. The biggest city at the lake is Ohrid. After having had fun in the water, you can have lunch in one of several restaurants at the lake. A similar idyll is offered by Lake Prespa, which has an area of 270 km² and contains several small islands. It is a great location for birdwatchers. Travellers who are interested in deer, brown bears and boars should visit Mavrovo National Park. The Galicia National Park is home to the Eurasian lynx. Another highlight is the Megalithic Observatory Kokino near the village of the same name. It was only discovered in 2001 and bears witness to the people's spirit of discovery 3,800 years ago. Macedonia's inhabitants already used the observatory for complicated astronomical calculations back then and the night sky above Kokino is still a treasure trove for stargazers and astronomers.

Macedonia's nights

Culture - The name dispute

Like most Balkan states, the present-day Republic of Macedonia looks back on an eventful history. The Ottomans, Serbs, Albanians and Bulgarians disputed the territory and its exact boarders in the course of the centuries. After the fall of Yugoslavia in 1991, the Republic of Macedonia was founded. Finally, there was to be a stable state in harmony with the neighbouring countries. However, the naming already caused new disagreements - this time with Greece. They were offended by the name "Macedonia" because of its similarity to one of their own regions, which bordered on the country. They were scared that the possibility of confusion would endanger the heritage of the ancient Greeks. It also started a fight over the origin of Alexander the Great. He is said to have been from the Greek region of Macedonia (also "Macedon"). The inhabitants of the Republic of Macedonia honour the former king too, in the form of monuments in their capital Skopje. Apart from the dispute over Alexander the Great and the state's name, the Macedonians are very friendly and welcoming towards guests. Visitors quickly get in touch with the locals and the latter are glad to share insider tips and worthwhile destinations.

Macedonia's monuments

Cultural sights - 365 churches and chapels

The capital of Skopje was almost completely destroyed during an earthquake in 1963. Today, it has been rebuilt and is a worthwhile tourist destination. The medieval bridge over the Vardar River or the Turkish bath Daut Pasha from the 15th century are particularly popular. The lake city of Ohrid at the lake of the same name is often refered to as the "city of 365 churches and chapels" and travellers will quickly notice the numerous steeples glistening in the sun on their way through the country. A special landmark is St. Sophia Cathedral against the backdrop of Lake Ohrid. The city of Bitula is only five kilometres away from Greece. It contains the ruins of the Greek city of Heraclea Lyncestis.

Macedonia's capital Skopje

Experience - Discovering Skopje and Ohrid

The Macedonians provide their visitors with a delicious Mediterranean Balkan cuisine with many fresh vegetables dishes made of peppers, eggplants, courgettes, garlic and herbs. It is influenced by all neighbouring countries, especially by Greece. Of course, the Macedonians give these dishes their own Macedonian note. They do not stuff their vine leaves with sheep's cheese like the Greeks but with minced meat. A typical Macedonian dish is Tavche Gravche, a hearty bean stew. The locals usually have Macedonian wine with their meals, which is a popular souvenir. You can buy it in Skopje and Ohrid. Travellers can generally go shopping here for reasonable prices. Afterwards, it is time to explore the Macedonian nightlife in Ohrid and Skopje, which is particularly lively in summer.

View over Skopje

Activities - Across the country

Travellers can only go on bathing holidays at the great lakes in the landlocked country, for example at Lake Ohrid. You can also do various kinds of water sports such as surfing, swimming or rowing here. In addition, rafting tours are offered along the Vardar River. In winter, the skiing areas Mavrovo and Kozuf open and invite visitors into Macedonia's mountainous landscape. When it is warmer, this region offers excellent conditions for cycling and mountain biking tours.

Cycling and mountain biking in Macedonia

Information

Macedonia has not been well developed for tourism yet. That is why travellers should plan their trip beforehand, so they have everything they need when they arrive. The country's official language is Macedonian but people also understand Albanian and German in some regions.

The country's untouched nature and great lakes are ideal for recreation and relaxation. The friendly Macedonians make sure visitors have varied and pleasant holidays in their home country.

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Information

Flag of Macedonia
Region:
Europe
Size:
25,713 km²
Population:
2,062,294
Capital:
Skopje
Timezone:
UTC+1
Currency:
Macedonian denar (MKD)
Languages:
Mazconian