Macedonia: beyond the obvious

Posted on September 10th, 2013 by

Apart from the recent unusual architectural rebirth of Skopje, and the ongoing name dispute, Macedonia has a variety of world class attractions to offer, all of which still remain far from reaching their tourism potentials. I decided to go partially ignorant on the matter and blame it all on bad PR. Here are a few things that come to mind:

First Cyrillic University

What is known today as St. Pantelejmon – Plaosnik, Ohrid was in fact the cradle of the First Slavic University, which operated in the last decades of the 9th century and the beginning of the 10th. Initiated and ran by St. Clement and his associates, this establishment was the first of its kind in Europe, and during its work hosted more than 3,500 students, who were equipped with knowledge in science and religion.

St. Panteleimon, Ohrid | source:


The observatory

The 3800 years old megalithic observatory “Kokino”, is listed 4th among the 15 ancient observatory sites in the world by NASA. It is composed of two platforms with a joint function of observing the movement of the Sun and the Moon.


Kokino | source: (Photo by: darko cvetanovski)

Archeological gems

Macedonia is a land locked country, but the central position of the region made it a bridge between Europe, Asia and Africa, and a great strategy location for any army in the past. Thus Macedonia has a diverse history, influenced by many cultures and empires, and the archeological sites all over the country stand to witness that. Some of the archeological sites include: Trebenista from the Hellenic period and Heraklea, Stobi and Skupi from the Roman period.

Ancient town Heraclea Lyncestis | source: (Photo by:


Clash of cultures at the Old Bazaar in Skopje

The old Bazaar stands to witness the multicultural history of the region, hosting museums, restaurants where you could taste local food, places ranging from non-alcohol serving tea shops to jazz and rock bars, as well as retail stores and craft shops.

The Old Bazaar | source:


Mother Theresa

Now, most people have heard about Mother Theresa and her charity work, yet only a few know that she was born and raised in Skopje, Macedonia. Although some find her methods questionable, she is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and her charity work among “the poorest of the poor” is undeniable. The “Mother Teresa Memorial House” in Skopje, was opened in 2009.

Mother Theresa Memorial House | source:


National Parks

Wonderful scenery and a natural escape from urban life, can be found in Pelister, Mavrovo and Galicica, all declared National parks due to their unique features, as well as the exquisite flora and fauna.

Galicica | source:


Posted on June 13th, 2012 by


Good neighbors in Balkans adversity

Posted on June 8th, 2012 by Petrit Saracini

At the entrance of Skopje’s Old Bazaar, just outside St. Dimitrija’s Church, which recently hit world’s newswires for its reportedly miraculous self-cleaning icons, stands a recently erected 29 meters-high statue, simply called “Warrior”. The warrior faces south, where across the Stone Bridge, on Macedonia capital’s main square stands an even taller statue, the “Warrior on a horse”.

The names of these warriors from both sides of Vardar river, who mysteriously resemble two worldwide famous ancient Macedonian kings – father and son, and of course, that of the horse, are known to anyone who’s ever read any European history at all, including the Macedonians.

But, they don’t reveal the names, for the sake of good neighborly relations. With Greece. Why would they irritate the neighbor, with whom they have this name dispute, whose solving would open the doors to NATO and the EU widely? And that is precisely where the new “architects” of Macedonia, the new statues included, want to take the country. At least so they tell its citizens.

As soon as you leave Macedonia and enter Greece, there is a big sign saying: “Welcome to Macedonia”. The noun is included in naming northern Greece’s three administrative units since 1987, when it became clear that Yugoslavia is falling apart, and that Greeks might find Socialist Republic of Macedonia, their neighbor born during World War II, and host of the Greek Embassy in the Yugoslav Federation, become an independent state.

As of then, Greece denies its good neighbor the right to use this name internationally, and its majority ethnic group to call themselves and their language Macedonian. Greeks consider this name, which it is identical to the name of a neighborly kingdom who was ancient Greeks’ greatest enemy, to be part of their historical heritage.

So, Greeks seem to think that they can reach a compromise, where Macedonians will choose another name, and erase this name from their laws, documents, passports, IDs, and their collective memory.

That’s how good neighborly relations flourish in the Balkans adversity today. Its absurd, but it works.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – System Macedonia

Posted on June 6th, 2012 by

Ok, I admit that I always tried to imagine how Macedonia would look like as a part of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – System Macedonia! Even though there is only one Douglas Noel Adams, I am certain that plenty have felt like Arthur Philip Dent.

…If you happen to find yourselves in a situation, in an environment in which the majority criticizes all that is new, let that be just an idea of a change, then trust me, you are in Macedonia!

Skopje: the capital of System Macedonia! A place abhorred in the System, yet everyone wants to live in it! Recognized by the only marriage proposal spot – the central Fountain- A Warrior on a Horse/ Alexander the Great, which has to be announced on FB! The fact that the Fountain has been criticized as being the breakpoint of the division between traitors and patriots will seem to be shortly erased from the Guide. Advice: If someone starts explaining about Alexander, DON’T PANIC, just nod approvingly!

The appearance is of a normal, friendly population, with an android face, two hands, legs, bipods.  They live in concrete cubicles, in colonies with and up to 4 generations. In an energy crises situation, they all drive their own cars. Public transport is for tourists and retired people.

Statistics: 30% unemployed, the pensioners are the most financially apt.  In another system this would lead to cannibalism – however, here, the situation is reverse! With an average pay of 350 EUR per month, second import priority is cars (Mercedes, BMW, even Bentley!), whereas the national sport is treating in local inns. Advice: do not ask a regular 35 year old healthy male about why he still lives with his parents – you will never understand!

Macedonia is being advertised across the Universe as a vacation spot. Similarly, the population is being taught of how to help visitors get through and leave Macedonia happy.  “To get through” may sound strong, however not unnecessary. So, don’t even dream about mentioning the new education campaign. Most would agree with the “diagnosis”, but as long as it applies to others, to the bad ones, the ones from the next city, next neighborhood or building, but certainly not from the place in which the speaker resides. There live only the best!

Tourism: the System is abundant with untouched nature, organic, healthy food, mixed cultures and history engraved in each stone. Advice: do not finger everything around and do not stuff everything in the mouth until you make sure it’s not spicy hot. Domestic food and beverage specialties are delightful, but make no mistake they affect the stomach… and the memory! Ask those from the Germany and Netherlands Systems.

You don’t need plenty of Dollars or Euros, and the national currency has remained unchanged for 2 decades. Plan a visit through the tour operator- that way you will spend less and receive greater quality without becoming a victim to the Endemic specie. You can only become a victim to good fun, love at first sight, and the best of friendships with the naughtiest of types like in Guy Ritchie movies, all in all priceless moments of adventure….this time called System Macedonia.




Macedonian theatre groups performs at World Shakespeare Festival

Posted on June 5th, 2012 by

In the nineties Macedonian theatre was in its golden years. Probably the roots of the Macedonian theatre`s characteristics were set by those plays.  There were some excellent plays important for the history of Macedonian theatre. But today, Macedonian theatre has is diamante years, where the experience of the actors from the old generation and the new energy brought by the new generation of brilliant actors make a synergy for a good theatric play. The theatre in Macedonia, or Macedonian theatre (as it`s main role as an artistic piece in the society) represents the reflection of the society, culture, history, and in general symbol for Macedonia.

Then again, to be or not to be… Shakespeare…to play or not to play Shakespeare…How big the challenge would be? Or more precisely, how big is the challenge to play Shakespeare in his country?

Macedonia’s National Theatre of Bitola, in London have faced that challenge and played the Henry IV. By Henry IV they have met the challenge to present Macedonia and Macedonian theatre, while performing this play.

In the Shakespeare theatre “Globe”, as a part of manifestation “Macedonian days of culture” in Britain, fourteen Macedonian actors, in Macedonian language perform the third part of the play Henry VI.

The leading role in the Macedonian part of the trilogy was performed by Petar Gorko, the queen Margaret was played by Gabriela Petrusevska, and directed by the famous American director John Blondel.

Through the play, Macedonian culture and climate was pulsing above Macedonian language, Macedonian music and Macedonian actors’ performance. Theatre play performed on Macedonian language in London is a big point for Macedonia.

Soon the play Henry VI will be performed in front of Skopje theatre public.

So, what is the difference between performing the Henry IV in Skopje and in London?

Again….to be or not to be? Or better, how to be (good) or (simply) not to be?

As mentioned above, the theatre represents a complexity of visual, linguistic, musical (audio) performances…Therefore; it gives an opportunity of expressing the idea (story) in different medias. So, it gives a possibility of representing the national characteristics in front of the other nation.

Where are the similarities? In the timeless play of Henry IV? In the performance? In the similarities of the human kind, and the human mind?

Macedonian theatre with his own national characterizes, that are making that theatre special, and separate of other theatres is flourishing, going further on in the challenges of the complexity of the theatric play, and still keeping it`s own distinguishing characteristics.

So, yes, Macedonian theatre, Macedonian performance of Henry IV is definitely stating and showing that there are no boundaries in the play, but there are different readings and performances of the play.

Macedonian performance is one of them.