Macedonia is a country in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeastern Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991. It became a member of the United Nations in 1993. Macedonia is a member of the UN and the Council of Europe. Since December 2005 it has also been a candidate for joining the European Union and has applied for NATO membership.
Macedonia is a landlocked country that is geographically clearly defined by a central valley formed by the Vardar river and framed along its borders by mountain ranges. The terrain is mostly rugged, located between the Šar Mountains and Osogovo, which frame the valley of the Vardar river. Three large lakes — Lake Ohrid, Lake Prespa and Dojran Lake — lie on the southern borders, bisected by the frontiers with Albania and Greece. Ohrid is considered to be one of the oldest lakes and biotopes in the world.
The flora of Republic of Macedonia is represented with around 210 families, 920 genera, and around 3,700 plant species. The most abundant group is the flowering plants, mosses and ferns. The fauna of Macedonian forests is abundant and includes bears, wild boars, wolves, foxes, squirrels, chamois and deer. Most frequent forest birds are the blackcap, the grouse, the black grouse, the imperial eagle and the forest owl.
Macedonia is a parliamentary democracy with an executive government composed of a coalition of parties from the unicameral legislature (Собрание, Sobranie) and an independent judicial branch with a constitutional court.
Macedonia has a transitional climate from Mediterranean to Continental. The summers are hot and dry and the winters are moderately cold. Average annual precipitation varies from 1,700 mm (66.9 in) in the western mountainous area to 500 mm (19.7 in) in the eastern area. There are three main climatic zones in the country: temperate Mediterranean, mountainous and mildly Continental. Along the valleys of the Vardar and Strumica rivers, in the regions of Gevgelija, Valandovo, Dojran, Strumica and Radoviš the climate is temperate Mediterranean. The warmest regions are Demir Kapija and Gevgelija, where the temperature in July and August frequently exceeds 40 °C (104 °F). The mountainous climate is present in the mountainous regions of the country and it is characterized by long and snowy winters and short and cold summers. The spring is colder than the fall. The majority of Macedonia has a moderate continental climate with warm and dry summers and relatively cold and wet winters. There are 30 main and regular weather stations in the country.
The most precious data for the weather in Macedonia or any Macedonian town in particular, can be found on www.meteo.go.mk. It is accurate and reliable.
Macedonia has an estimated population of 2,061,315 citizens. The largest ethnic group in the country are ethnic Macedonians. The second largest group is the Albanians who dominate much of the western part of the country. Some unofficial estimates indicate that in the Republic of Macedonia there are possibly up to 260,000 Roma citizens. There are Turks, Serbs, Bosnians and other nationalities in Macedonia. Christians are a majority in the Republic of Macedonia, with 64.7% of the population belonging to the Macedonian branch of Eastern Orthodoxy. Muslims comprise 33.3% of the population, this being the fourth largest Muslim population in Europe by percentage after Kosovo, Albania, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Most Muslims are Albanian, Turkish, or Roma. There are some Macedonian Muslims. Altogether, there are more than 1200 churches and 400 mosques in the country. The Orthodox and Islamic religious communities have secondary religion schools in Skopje. There is an Orthodox theological college in the capital. The Macedonian Orthodox Church has jurisdiction over 10 provinces (seven in the country and three abroad).
The official and most widely spoken language is Macedonian, which belongs to the Eastern branch of the South Slavic language group. Standard Macedonian language was codified in the period following World War II and has accumulated a thriving literary tradition. In those municipalities where Albanians are more than 20% of the population, the Albanian language is an official language of communication and is used for official purposes in local government, alongside Macedonian.
A wide variety of languages are spoken in Macedonia, reflecting its ethnic diversity. Besides the official languages are minority languages with substantial numbers of speakers like Romani and Turkish.
The house of Robevci- typical Macedonian architecture
Macedonia has a rich cultural heritage in art, architecture, poetry, and music. It has many ancient, protected religious sites. Poetry, cinema, and music festivals are held annually. Macedonian music styles developed under the strong influence of Byzantine church music. Macedonia has a significant number of preserved Byzantine fresco paintings, mainly from the period between the 11th and 16th centuries. There are several thousands square meters of fresco painting preserved, the major part of which is in very good condition and represent masterworks of the Macedonian School of ecclesiastical painting.
The most important cultural events in the country are the Ohrid Summer festival of classical music and drama, the Struga Poetry Evenings which gather poets from more than 50 countries in the world, International Camera Festival in Bitola, Open Youth Theatre and Skopje Jazz Festival in Skopje etc. The Macedonian Opera opened in 1947 with a performance of the Cavalleria rusticana under the direction of Branko Pomorisac. Every year, the May Opera Evenings are held in Skopje for around 20 nights. The first May Opera performance was that of Kiril Makedonski’s Tsar Samuil in May 1972.
The Macedonian identity card (Лична карта, Lična karta) is a compulsory identity document issued in the Republic of Macedonia. The document is issued by the police on behalf of the Ministry of Interior. Every person over 18 can get and must get an identity card.The Macedonian identity card
The Macedonian passport (Македонски Пасош) is issued to citizens of the Republic of Macedonia for the purpose of international travel. Responsibility for their issuance lies with the Ministry of the Interior. The validity of the passport is 5 years for persons under the age of 27, and 10 years for those 27 years of age and older. Macedonian passports conform with recommended standards (i.e., size, composition, layout, technology) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The latest Macedonian passport is a biometric passport.
Macedonian cuisine is a representative of the cuisine of the Balkans—reflecting Mediterranean (Greek and Turkish) and Middle Eastern influences, and to a lesser extent Italian, German and Eastern European (especially Hungarian) ones. The relatively warm climate in Macedonia provides excellent growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits. Thus, Macedonian cuisine is particularly diverse.
Famous for its rich Shopska salad, an appetizer and side dish which accompanies almost every meal, Macedonian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of its dairy products, wines, and local alcoholic beverages, such as rakija. Tavče Gravče and mastika are considered the national dish and drink of the Republic of Macedonia, respectively.
For a country as small as the Republic of Macedonia, the range of products grown here is awesome. The fertile soil and the best of Mediterranean and Central European climates have combined to make the land yield a wide range of farm produce right from citrus fruits, grapes, hazelnuts to tobacco, rice and mountain tea. The country has maintained its stature as an agricultural cauldron in the face of rapid urbanization.
The country produces a range of dairy products. Apart from the various varieties of cheese, the country produces yoghurt and milk, which varies in taste and is unique to every village. It produces a soft white cheese, similar to the Greek feta, which is known as sirenje. Bread, soups, stew, lamb kebabs, meat balls, stuffed vegetables, moussaka, etc. are some of the common local foods. Traditional specialities such as taratur (sour yoghurt with slices of cucumber and garlic) which is like the Greek tzatziki and is served as a cold soup, pindzur (cream salad containing peppers and eggplant) and the baklava are also famous as mouth watering Balkan delights.
Grilled meat made in the Turkish way is extremely appetizing. The grilled beef kebabs are a gourmet's delight. Another popular and ubiquitous specialty is the burek, a flaky pie stuffed with ham, spinach, beef paste, cheese, etc. The Ohrid trout is a local delicacy but is an endangered fish and it is best not to eat it.
Food without drink is not complete and in this respect the local wineries and vintners produce wines and brandy comparable to the best in the world. High quality grapes are used in the big wineries and boutique outlets to produce both red and white wines such as Vranec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are as good as French, Italian or Californian wines. Brandy produced here is fiery and is extremely popular with the locals and tourists. Mastica, a flavored liqueur, and rakija, a strong grape brandy, are idolized as national beverages. The Tikvesh winery in Kavadarci is the second largest brewery in the Balkans.
Ajvar is red-pepper and aubogine spread (relish). It is traditional meal and it goes perfect with white cheese. The locals usually eat ajvar for breakfast or dinner in the autumn or winter.
RESTAURANTS TO EAT
Eating out in Skopje is generally good, cheap and varied, with a growing number of international restaurants. Burek can be found on sale on most streets as well as a wide and delicious range of grilled meat dishes. Still, the most traditional and delicious meals are served at:
Gurmet, located in very nice area called “Debar Maalo”, is a perfect place for summer and winter. It serves Macedonian meals and traditional appetizers. You can choose among variety of salads, perfect steaks or tasty fish. The atmosphere is very relaxed and casual. Don’t miss to try the desert called “toplo-ladno”. Maybe it is the best in the town.
Orient Express, Very pleasant environment with nice music and very interesting cuisine.
Vodenica, located in Kapistec area on the Teodosij Gologanov Street. It is very trendy place with good cuisine and a place to meet local politicians, businessmen and representatives from the diplomatic core.
Gino, an Italian restaurant located I the City Trade Canter. It provides nice food and a cheerful atmosphere.
Dalma, Mediterranean restaurant is a private and modern place with great catering service for any occasion such as parties, cocktails or birthdays.
Kapan An is traditional restaurant located in the heart of beautiful Turkish Bazaar. One should make reservations in advance.
Kamnik (Hunter Lodge), located in the hunter’s lodge is a perfect place to try specialties from wild animals like deer stake with green pepper sauce or boar sausages. They have their own vinery and produce high-quality vines. One definitely has to try Ten Barrels Barique.
Harmonia is macrobiotic restaurant where one can find healthy meals, salads and deserts. It is located in the passage near” Skopjanka”, just next to the City train station.
Chef is a little store with home made meals to go. You ca choose among soups, stews, fresh salads, meals and pies. The food is daily prepared, fresh and tastes like home made. It is located in the city centre in “Gradski Zid” near the Italian Embassy and on the Ruzveltova Street near the factory Treska.
Qebapçarnica Bratsvo-Brenda, located in the first market place of the Carsija that you encounter when you enter from Stone Bridge. The service is very friendly and helpful and the owner's son, who works as a waiter, speaks impeccable English. The food is traditional Macedonian cuisine with a wide selection of salads and meat dishes;
Dal Met Fu, located in Macedonia Square allows you a great view of the Square and the river. The food here is delicious and cheap and the crowd is a mixture of well-to-do locals and foreign nationals who are primarily diplomats, NGO workers and the like.
KIBO Restaurant remains to be one of the best places to eat at in Skopje. It doesn't have only local food, though you can find incredible local dishes like "Selsko meso" and lots of salads served in the morning salad bar;
Restaurant Antiko located in an old Ohrid house, is one of the most popular restaurants in the town. Special warning: if you want to eat Macedonian specialities, you have to order them three hours in advance.
Restaurant Dalga located in an old Ohrid enables you to enjoy glorious lake views along with some Californian trout.
Restaurant Sveti Sofia is classy bistro just uphill from the Sveti Sofia church, with a wide range of modern and traditional Macedonian dishes. The view from the terrace onto the ancient church is the very soul of Ohrid.
PLACES TO VISIT
Lake Ohrid in the city of Ohrid is one of the three lakes that straddle the mountainous border between the southwestern region of Macedonia and eastern Albania. One of the oldest lakes in Europe, it preserves a unique aquatic ecosystem with more than 200 endemic species that is of worldwide importance.
The Monument on Meckin Kamen is one of the popular places to visit in Macedonia. Meckin Kamen also referred to as the Bear's Rock, more so because of the famous legend attached to the hill, is a sort after tourist's destination
Pelister National Parks is the oldest and the second largest national park in the Republic of Macedonia. This national park is filled with exquisite flora and fauna, especially the five-needle pine molica, a unique species of tree found only in the mountains of the Balkan Peninsula.
The Colored or Painted Mosque (Aladzha or Sharena Dzamija) in Tetovo, also known as the Pasha Mosque, is located near the Pena river in the old part of town. The mosque was built in 1495 and rebuilt 1833 by Abdurrahman Pasha, the son of Rexhep Pasha.
Marko's Fortress is located near the city of Prilep. It is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Macedonia. This archeological site is one of the popular paces to visit in Macedonia where one can get a preview of the cities history.
Kokino – Megalitic astronomic observatory that was built 4 000 years ago. American Space Agency NASA ranked Kokino on the 4th
Place on the Ancient Observatory List, just below the 3th ranked Stonehedge. Kokino is located 35 km.from the city of Kumanovo.
Lake Dorjan is among the most attractive sites of Macedonia. It is located in the south eastern part of Macedonia. All through the year a huge number of people come here to enjoy the panoramic beauty of this lake. A traveler who is highly interested to observe different sorts of animal and plant species should definitely visit this place. The Macedonian lake of Dorjan offers around 12 fauna species and around 15 fish species. Apart from all these, one can also a get a glance of the different types of bird species.
The Ancient City of Stobi offers spectacular legacy of antique theaters, palace ruins, brightly-colored mosaics and religious relics for visitors to enjoy. This archaeological site (located just 3 km or 1.8 miles from the Gradsko exit on Highway E-75) offers sweeping views of the central Macedonian plain and contains edifices such as the 2nd century amphitheatre, the Theodosia palace and early Christian ruins with extensive and ornate mosaic floors.
Skopje Aquaduct is located in the northern part of Skopje. This Roman aqueduct is an important cultural and historical monument attesting to urban life in antiquity. Built of brick and stones, the aqueduct has 55 arches supported on massive columns.
Plaosnik (Ohrid) The monastery stands on a hill which is now known as Plaosnik overlooking Lake Ohrid. SaintClement built his monastery on a restored church and a Roman basilica of five parts (the remains of the basilicas can still be seen outside the monastery). Judging by the architectural style and design of the monastery, researchers say that Saint Clement intended for his building to be a literary school for disciples, thus it is believed to be the first and oldest discontinued university in Europe.
Many other useful information about places to visit can be obtained on www.vsitmacedonia.mk.
HOTELS TO STAY
Hotel Aleksandar Palace is a leading hotel in Macedonia. It is located on the right bank of the river Vardar next to the city park, only 3 km away from the town center and just next to the most important administrative, cultural and historical buildings. The hotel has 135 air conditioned rooms including 22 suites.
Hotel Imperial is a comfortable hotel that meets the highest international standards for first-class facilities and offers an enchanting atmosphere.
Hotel Vodno, is a comfortable 3-star hotel in a unique location. The hotel presents an opportunity to feast on the natural surroundings of Skopje, offering a view of the greenery of the Vodno Mountain and a beautiful panoramic view of the city.
Hotel Best Western Hotel Bellevue is a 4-star hotel that was completely renovated in 2007. Since then it has been operating as a part of the Best Western hotel chain. The hotel is conveniently located, close to the Skopje Airport and not far from the city centre.
Hotel Slavija Spektar is situated on the most attractive area of Lake Ohrid, just three kilometers from the city centre, in the tourist settlement St. Stefan. With modern and comfortable facilities and amenities that use natural resources, this hotel brings with it a peaceful ambience.
SHOPPING IN MACEDONIA
You may not go to the Republic of Macedonia for shopping, but there is still some great shopping to do, once you are there. The Republic of Macedonia has traditional markets and bazaars in the towns of Tetovo, Ohrid, Bitola and Skopje that sell everything from dried peppers to designer glasses. On those open markets or Pazars peasants are selling local specialities and seasonal produce that are fresh and home made. The Pazar is an all round sensory treat, particularly in summer when the smell of sweet cherries and melons fill the air. Whatever you are buying, be sure to bargain if there are no signs with written prices. Skopje's oldest and biggest market place at the northern end of the Skopje Old Bazaar area sells fruits, vegetables, tobacco, herbs and hoards of Chinese made items. East of the old train station, now the City Museum, is Skopje's Flower Market. The kiosks here sell a variety of flowers and plants to suit all occasions.
The new Vero Mall, spreading on 40,000 square meters, is one of the biggest shopping malls in the country. Veropoulos group has invested about 40 million euros for its construction. A large supermarket with a good supply of food and household goods including fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts. As well as stocking Barilla pasta, there?s a small café, a good press kiosk selling a range of international newspapers and magazines, key cut and a photo service counter.
The Ramstore Mall is Skopje's entry into modern shopping. The mall has a good supermarket, an ATM, an exchange office, a cinema, pharmacy, book shop and a dry cleaner's. The book shop has an excellent collection of English language books, travel guides and maps. It offer excellent relaxation in many of its cafés; the Diamond Bar, Stage Café or Mambo are quite good. The food court at the mall has the ubiquitous McDonald's. Kebab stalls, and other outlets such as Smiley's, City Grill and Aladin.
Health care in Macedonia is provided through an extensive net of health care organizations. It is organized on three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. Health care is delivered through a system of health care institutions, covering the country’s territory relatively evenly. The health facilities range from health care stations and centers at PHC level and specialty-consultative and inpatient departments at secondary level, to university clinics and institutes at tertiary level, with the latter also carrying out research and educational activities. The quality of the health services is greatly increased with the option to choose the private health care institutions.
Mala Bogorodica Sistina is respectable and powerful medical organization. NOVA International School policy is to use the services of this health organization that is aware of the challenges that the future brings, but is prepared to face them.
Medical Clinic D-r Ancevski is the biggest private dermatological esthetic corrective clinic with the newest technology for everything concerning the skin.
Karposh Dental Smile Solutions is a general dental office that offers high quality preventive care, cosmetic dentistry and treatments.
Almost every pharmacy works until 21h or 22h. There are a few that work 24/7. The easiest to find is “Zegin” on Partizanska Boulevard, just across the”Bunjakovec” green market. It is well supplied with medicines and cosmetic products. One can pay with credit cards, just check on the entrance which cards accepted.
Macedonia has the good fortune of being located at the crossroads of the East and West. This has worked in its favor and over the centuries the nation has developed thanks to this favorable position. Today Macedonia is challenge to visit and explore. The two international airports, Alexander The Great Airport in Skopje and St. Paul The Apostle Airport in Ohrid offer the fastest way to the Balkan’s heart. There are bus and train services that interconnect the cities in Macedonia. Public Transport Enterprise in Skopje is a company that provides transportation for passengers in urban and suburban areas. Taxi services are extremely reliable and affordable which ensures a tremendous convenience for those who live or travel to Macedonia.
There are many taxi companies in the city but most reliable and most comfortable are:
“Nase taxi” Telephone No. 2532746 & “Lotus” Telephone No. 15157
TRANSFER TO AIRPORT
Due to the variety of taxi companies and their prices, it is better to use the companies already mentioned – Nase taxi and Lotus. They are providing professional services with exceptional punctuality and their prices are reasonable ( 1000 denars) There are a lot of unregistered taxi vehicles at the airport that have no GDP system for location or may charge an exceedingly unreasonable price.
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
Real Estate Agencies offer complete service in selling, renting, purchasing commercial and residential properties, leading investments, consulting, valuations, reports and inquiries of the market in Macedonia and in the region.
Renesans is the largest real estate agency in Macedonia with an excellent and hihly professional team. The reference of RENESANS is international award for quality for 2003 year handed-over in Madrid in January 2004year and satisfaction of our clients.
Velkoski Company is located on Prvomajska Street b.b, just across Ohis Factory. It imports and exports materials and performs renovations and redecorations of high quality. In addition, it provides professional opinions on material choice, projects and realization procedures.
Sport Hall “Boris Trajkovski” is multifunctional sports and cultural centre. It is named after the former President of the Republic of Macedonia Boris Trajkovsi. It consists of basketball and volleyball halls, bowling alley, fitness centre and offers a spectrum of recreational sports.
Macedonia offers irresistible opportunities for recreation in nature. Mountains, lakes, waterfalls, forests, meadows, healing herbs, fertile fields, vineyards and orchards are ardent reminders that you are in a heavenly place.
If you want the main ingredients of your weekend to be serenity, kindness and leisure, than spend a weekend at the breathtaking lake Prespa - the second largest tectonic lake in Macedonia.
The mysticism of Matka, the secret source of water behind which numerous caves can be found. The Matka canyon is one of the most magnificent regions in Macedonia. The sides of the canyon are vertical rocks, which house ancient temples, medieval churches and monasteries.
Travelling Along The Green Paradise will bring you to Porechje which resembles a part of the garden of Eden because it offers exuberant greenery, the scent of flowers, the crystal clean air and pure waters.
RENT A BIKE
Along The Canyon of Radika is a journey through one of the most picturesque parts of western Macedonia and along the wild beauty, the river Radika, up to the exquisite town, Struga. Inact nature, a symphony of colours, pictorial and idyllic nature make this part of the country attractive for recreation.
You can rent / leave the rented bikes on 3 places in town. The first location is the city square near the administration building of T-HOME. The second location is on the parking lot of “Teodosij Gologanov St, near the restaurant “Vodenica. Renting a bike is not expensive. It costs 10 denars per hour.
Although the bike lanes are visibly marked you may find it very hard to ride your bike on the man streets due to the parked cars. The best places for bike riding are the City Park, besides the river Vardar where one can enjoy the long recreational track for bikes and skaters.
One can find many useful information in the “ Golden Book) www.zk.com.mk. It provides an English menu, so it is easy to find anything: from companies, restaurants or hospitals. In its essence, it means from A-Z.
For any additional information one can contact the members of the Welcome Committee at NOVA International School who are more than willing to help the newcomers to Macedonia and NOVA.
USEFULL TELEPHONE NUMBERS
NOVA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS
Telephone and fax numbers (389 2)
306 18 07 & 306 19 07
IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS
Fire Brigade 193
Emergency – Ambulance 194
On Road Assistance 9159
Telegram Service 186
International Operator 182
Intercity Operator 901
Postal Service 3233 300
Malfunction Report 177
Heating Electricity “Elektro Skopje” 3076 200
Water Supply And Sewage 3073 010
Communal Hygiene 3224 961
International Bus Station 2466 313
Macedonia Traffic 2402 388
Railway Station 3234 255
Airport Skopje 3148 333
Airport Ohrid 046 252 842
MILITARY POLICE 3227 700
Clinical Hospital 3147
Sistina Medical 2603-100
Dr-Ancevski Office 321 66 08
Karposh Dental Smile Solutions 075 249 939
Remedica 2603 - 100
Neromedica 3130 000
Veterinary Hospital 3120 129
“Pet-Vet” Ambulance 3178 656
Centre 3134 661
Karposh 3061 258
ON DUTY PHARMACIES
ZEGIN (MNT – basement) 3117 614
REPLEK 3130 170
Real Estate Agency RENESANS 3128 344
Velkovski Company 2461 172