North Macedonia is a small Balkan country located at the crossroads of different cultures that have influenced what is it today over centuries. Its neighboring countries are Serbia and Kosovo to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south and Albania to the west. The population of the country is about 2 million and the official languages are Macedonian and Albanian.
Everything from architecture, food, traditions and even language is a mix of North Macedonian authenticity with Ottoman, Greek and Roman nuances. This makes the country uniquely diverse and a perfect destination for travelers who get bored fast. Not to mention the abundance of natural beauty that is literally at every corner.
Skopje is the oldest of Balkan capitals dating back several thousand years and, as such, being a mix of Roman, Ottoman and Greek influences that are visible and noticeable in architecture, food and language. Some of the dominating features shaping the appearance of the city are the well-preserved Ottoman old town, the buzzing modern districts and the collection of grotesque nationalist monuments built by the previous government.
The Skopje Fortress include the remains of an ancient settlement built in the Byzantine era whose walls were later turned into a fortification by Ottomans. Mother Teresa Memorial House was built on the site of the destroyed Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral where she was baptized.
Skopje is one of the few cities in the world where you can find both Christian and Muslim religious landmarks. St. Clement of Orchid Cathedral and Mustafa Pasha Mosque are two of the most visited spiritual places in the extremely diverse North Macedonia’s capital.
Other attractions in North Macedonia
Shared by North Macedonia and Albania, Lake Ohrid is a focal point of natural beauty and spirituality being surrounded by mountains and a large number of ancient monasteries and churches. Key religious sites include Saint Sophia’s Church decorated with stunning Byzantine frescoes, the Church of Saints Clement and Panteleimon that served as a mosque in the Ottoman times, and Sveti Naum Monastery located on the southern bank of the lake and overlooking the Albanian side.
Perched on the northeast shore, the town of Ohrid is deemed one of oldest settlements in the world. You should spare some time on exploring this impressive historic place. Lake Ohrid is pretty close to Galicica National Park where you can try mountain biking, hiking and watersports.
Golem Grad Island is part of Galicica National Park, being famous for its ancient ruins and churches. A settlement existed here until the 6th century and a monastic site during the medieval times. The monastic community left the island in the 20-th century and since then it is officially uninhabited.
Some speechless inhabitants, though, include tortoises, pelicans and cormorants. Intense excavations in the recent years have led to the unearthing of numerous ruins of ancient churches and Roman houses which have been marked with information boards in English.
Mavrovo National Park
The largest in North Macedonia, Mavrovo National Park is a fascinating blend of deep canyons, lush forests, glittering lakes, lovely waterfalls, grassy pastures and snowy peaks. It stands at the meeting point of three mountain ranges, hosting the country’s highest peak Mt Korab at 2764m. The park’s beauty is so densely packed that you can enjoy it even from the road without having to go into the wilderness. Other beauties can be accessed on the marked hiking trails.