- Posted October 14, 2011 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Eye on Macedonia: Share your stories
Lake Ohrid via Galicica to Prespa
After 21 years in Canada and 8 years since my last visit this summer my family and I arrange month long holyday and headed to southeast Europe, destination my birth place country- Macedonia. In between numerous dinning and wining gathering with our family and friends, wedding and graduation parties, we planned, organize and managed to sneak in some time exploring our beautiful country Macedonia.
So let me tell you about this amazing country, story about country that is bursting with love, beauty and history, or in one word, a story about Macedonia!
Remember the butterflies in your stomach that would bring a smile to your face and fill you with happiness? Feeling of the first time you fell in love, well these are the closest to the feelings I experience when I visit my birth country – the Republic of Macedonia or know throughout the centuries as, Macedonia.
Macedonia is unique small country with a big soul, it is known as, “The Pearl of the Balkans,” inhabited with people that have open warm hearts and big smile for everybody. Macedonian history goes back a few thousand years, contributing great names to the world, Alexander the Great, Phillip II, Mother Teresa, just to list few. Macedonia is a beautiful, friendly country situated in the southern Europe, in the central part of Balkan Peninsula, just north of Greece, south of Serbia and Kosovo, between Albania and Bulgaria, right in the heart of Balkan Peninsula.
While we can trace its origins long before Christ walked the earth, modern Macedonia just celebrated 20 years of its independence from Yugoslavia on September 8, 2011, what a party was that, I wish I was there. Macedonia is little more than two million people and is working its way into both NATO and the EU. It has a name dispute with Greece but this issue is much deeper than it seems to the world, more than 130 countries in the world recognize Macedonia as unique from the Greeks and the true land of the Macedonians. If my great-grandfather was Macedonian, my grandfather & father was Macedonian, what else I can be then Macedonian, not that I want to be anything else. Leave the politics on a side for now and let’s start with the beauty of Macedonia.
What is so beautiful about Macedonia?
Although it is small in size, Macedonia is a unique patchwork of cultures and religions, where Balkan bloodlines have mixed with others more exotic still. There are 1 200 churches, 425 mosques, Roman Catholic Church and many others religious communities with their own places of worship in the capital and in other towns. In every of this sacral buildings there is emotion that is awaking and evoking the feeling and image of belief, desire and life of the people. Opposite of the overwhelming proportions of European cathedrals, many of the Macedonian monasteries and churches you can find hidden in the naturally rich locations, in small proportions but overwhelming with mystery, intensity and full of unique style and elements of fresco painting. Macedonia abounds with archaeological sites that date over 12,000 years. It is the place where the Saints Cyril and Methodius planted the roots of the Cyrillic alphabet. Among its many wonders, it boasts the world's fourth oldest observatory, Kokino, which according to NASA, was established between the 20th and 18th centuries BC). Macedonia is so beautiful that even Saint Apostle Paul, heard about its many wonders and decided to visit Macedonia (during his Second Missionary Journey, Acts 15:36-18:22).
Natural beauty and diversity is something that Macedonia has plenty of, possesses a natural charm and unique landscape that makes it one of the most traveled destinations. From the aspect of topography, Macedonian landscape is comprise of mountains, fresh bodies of water, and forested areas, making it ideal for outdoorsy travelers. Its prosperous and diverse culture is a major attraction in itself and visitors get the chance to live like a local when visiting. Its rich landscape is a platform for adventure and explorations. The Macedonian mountains are a place for thrill-seekers and those who want to unearth the beauty of the land themselves. From one of the oldest lake in Europe, Lake Ohrid to the array of gorgeous mountains it takes a short drive with a car.
From the foods to lively festivals filled with dance and music, Macedonians love to welcome their guests like a member of the family, and provide the curious traveler with the best hospitality. Country’s multicultural past and present live in every existence, everyday life of people, grandparent’s stories and in every house and celebration. Partly because of our rich history and partly because of its mixture of age-old traditions, historical treasures, cultures and different ethnicities you will feel that everybody in Macedonia Loves you, as our pop star Toshe Proeski once said “I love you All“
Macedonia offers its visitors a unique blend of natural wonders, traditions and cultures, combining all of these qualities plus unsurpassed hospitality of the people, Macedonia has something for everyone ,for the people seeking the mystic tranquility and harmony of the monasteries, churches and mosques to the modern outdoorsy travelers and paragliding daredevils, Macedonia has it all !
Macedonia is an exotic concoction of natural sights, culture and traditions of the past and the present. You think you know Macedonia, but every time you visit Macedonia you rediscover the ancient land with her culture and people over and over again.
Macedonian rich history and culture can take up an entire book to portray, no time or knowledge to do that , perhaps my photos and my story will awaken same adventures souls that will take on exploring this beautiful country for them self one day.
For the people that I love, for the country that is in my heart, for the beauty I must share, for the strangers that never have been there… for you, for me, for MACEDONIA!
Until my next great adventure in Macedonia!!!!!