Macedonia - Cradle of culture, land of nature
Macedonia is a small country situated in the southern part of Balkan Peninsula. It's a natural bridge between east and west, north and south, abounds in the natural beauties and rarities. Many have named it "The Pearl of the Balkans". The numerous mountains, forests, rivers and lakes present a great tourist attraction. The country is reach in water resources. That is why it is often called "The Land of Lakes" because of the many tectonic, glacial and man-made lakes. There are about fifty large and small lakes, the most significant ones: the lakes of Ohrid, Prespa and Doyran. The rivers form three basins, the largest one - the Vardar River.
The high mountains present its impressive, spectacular landscapes. Because of the great variety of plant and animal species, some areas in the mountains have been proclaimed national parks: Mavrovo, Pelister and Galitchica.
There are various climatic zones in the country, temperately Mediterranean in the south (with warm summers and mild winters), and moderately continental in the north with more marked seasonal extremes.
The main administrative center of the country is Skopje, with a population of more than 541.000 inhabitants. It's a place where many roads and civilizations have met and mingled. Other larger towns are: Bitola, Prilep, Kumanovo, Tetovo, Ohrid.
In its 2,500 years of existence, MACEDONIA’s welcoming capital city has had many different embodiments. All of them – from Roman to Byzantine, from Ottoman to Yugoslav – have left permanent traces on the city as is evidenced by Skopje’s varied architecture and its mix of cultures. Yet in addition to its strong historical associations, Skopje is a forward-looking city offering an abundance of modern amenities and attractions.
Here one can find sleek modern hotels above the cobblestoned Ottoman streets, outstanding neoclassical homes right around the corner from grand old Yugoslav-era buildings, red-bricked Byzantine churches and rounded Turkish mosques, chic cafés, shopping malls and brightly-colored new offices.
The concentrated complexity of Skopje today attracts visitors offering a great variety of things to see and do, constantly reminding the public of the city’s storied past. Chief among sights to see are the Stone Bridge crossing the River Vardar, the Ottoman-era Old Bazzar (Stara Charshija), and the Kale Fortress walls. In the sloping narrow streets of Stara Charshija one feels the spirit of the old city with its small shops, mosques with their ceramic tiled interiors, the outdoor bazaar and hamam that continues to exist from Turkish times. A short climb up to the Kale Fortress is well rewarded; from this hilltop where Skopje’s masters ruled for centuries one enjoys a commanding view of the city and its surroundings.
The world’s greatest cities boast at least one secluded natural escape. Skopje has two – a long, tree-lined park along the river and the forested hills of Mount Vodno which overlooks the city from the southwest and offers excellent hiking and wilderness serenity. It is within walking distance of downtown Skopje. The summit of Mt. Vodno is also crowned with the enormous Millennium Cross that presides over the city. One gets even more magnificent views of Macedonia’s capital from this point.Macedonia’s capital features well-established hotels, restaurants and cinemas, as well as shopping malls with all the latest fashion, and usually at lower prices than in Western countries. The city is a major regional center for concerts, theatre performances, dance and sporting events, all of which frequently feature well-known celebrities from abroad as well as the best in the neighboring countries.
Skopje owns a public transport network and taxis, as well as a plethora of modern internet cafés if one wants to keep in touch with the folks back home. Hotels operating to the highest standards are centrally located, the water is eminently drinkable and the food hearty and nourishing with all international tastes represented - in addition to the excellent local cuisine, of course! Also, it is one of the safest cities in Europe.