Things to see and do in North Macedonia (FYR Macedonia)
Attractions in North Macedonia (FYR Macedonia)
Be sure not to miss Bitola's Byzantine ruins
Surrounded by the hills and forest of Pelister National Park, pretty Bitola is the second-largest town in North Macedonia (FYR Macedonia). Located 18km (11 miles) from the Greek border, it was an important centre of Ottoman rule. Nearby, the ruins of the ancient it of Heraclea Lyncestis are well-preserved. Walk the remains of its Byzantine basilica with excellent mosaics.
Catch the cable car to one of the world's biggest crosses
Standing proudly atop Vodno Mountain, the Millennium Cross was erected to celebrate 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia. At 66m-high (217ft), the cross is one of the largest in the world and can be seen from Skopje city centre. Visitors can hike or take the Ropewalk cable car to the monument.
Discover the delights of Ohrid, the former capital
With its lakeside location, Ohrid is possibly the most attractive town in the FYR Macedonia. The site of the first Slav university, it was the Macedonian capital under leader Tsar Samuil. From his reign between 977 and 997 AD, the fortress walls survive and now provide a venue for summer concerts. Worthy of attention too are the number of ancient churches, particularly the cathedral of St Sophia.
Explore North Macedonia’s (FYR Macedonia’s) mosques and monasteries
North Macedonia (FYR Macedonia) boasts many mosques dating from the Ottoman period, but among the best is the 15th-century Mustafa Pasha Mosque in Skopje’s Old Bazaar. Just outside the capital, the Nerezi Monastery and its 12th-century Church of St Panteleimon will also delight with its neat domes and magnificent Byzantine frescoes.
Explore the new and old in Skopje
Much of Macedonia's capital, Skopje, is new following an earthquake in 1963. This includes several new statues and the Memorial House of Mother Teresa, which were erected in 2014 as a government drive to make the city more classical. There is plenty of (actual) history in the Old Bazaar area and the attractive quarter is full of charming Ottoman touches.
Make for the Museum of Contemporary Art
Founded following the earthquake in 1963, the Museum of Contemporary Art houses one of the finest collections of art in the country. Perched above the city, the building is an excellent example of late modernism architecture. Works by Pablo Picasso, Hans Hartung and Robert Jacobsen give the light-drenched exhibition space an international feel.
See Skopje's stone landmarks
Skopje's Stone Bridge is a city landmark and even features on its coat of arms. Crossing the Vardar River, the bridge was originally built by the Romans and connects Macedonia Square with the Old Town. Kale Fortress is an imposing 6th-century castle overlooking the river. Stroll up to its ramparts for exceptional views and see various archaeological finds inside.
See the sunken church of Mavrovo Lake
Southwest of Skopje is Mavrovo National Park. A vast 780 sq km (300 sq miles) region of deep canyons, snowy peaks and dense forest, it is ideal for hiking. Walk to Mavrovo Lake, it freezes during winter but during summer offers great boating and swimming opportunities. In its centre sits a half-submerged church.
Take in Skopje’s Old Town sights
Visit the Church of the Holy Saviour in Skopje's Old Town. Unassuming from the outside, its interior contains an intricately carved iconostasis. Nearby, two former caravanserais (roadside inns), the 15th century Suli An and 16-century Kursumli An, retain their wonderful archways, whilst the distinctive domed Daut Pasha Baths now houses an art gallery.
Unearth history at the National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum (as the vast exterior columns attest) was borne out of the government's drive to make Skopje appear more classical. With artefacts dating back to the Neolithic period, the vast museum is worthy of an afternoon's exploration. The exhibitions are overwhelming in places, so a guided tour is recommended.
Tourist Association of SkopjeAddress: Dame Gruev Gradski Blok 3, 1000 Skopje,
Telephone: (2) 311 8498.