The Panaghia (Virgin) Chalkeon (1028), Hosios David (12th century), St Panteleemon (late 13th or the early 14th century), is of four-columned cross-in-square type, Ayioi Apostoloi (1310-1314),Taxiarches (14th century), Panagouda a three-aisled basilica with significant icons, Agios Ioannis Prodromos (Nymphaion),Vlatadon monastery a 14th century foundation of which only the katholikon and two cisterns within the precinct survive, Ayios Demetrios a splendid basilica dedicated to the patron saint and protector of the city, etc.
The ancient city of Aiane was the most important of the kingdom of Elimeia. From the finds here, archaeologists have concluded that it was home to quite an advanced civilisation, on a par with the Mycenaeans.
In the early 12th century the city of Kavala is small. The cultivation of tobacco in the 19th century results in many tobacco companies settling in Kavala. People from the outskirts of Kavala are starting to move to the city which has began to spread outside the walls of the peninsula.
Imaret is an impressive building erected by Mehmet Ali (1769-1849) as a donation to its native town. Ali was born in Kavala and later became Ruler of Egypt. It is situated on the western side of the Old City, in Panayia, occupying an area of 3500 m2.
The Old Aqueduct, the Medieval Aqueduct, is work of the Byzantine period, which held extensive repairs during the Ottoman rule, particularly during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent and Legislator (1530 AD approx.) This double arch structure was designed to bridge the peninsula of Panagia with the foot of the mountain of Lekani.
Because of the unique biodiversity and spectacular natural formations of Pirin, the Government of Bulgaria has established over 40,000 ha of mountain protected area – Pirin National Park. It is a piece of nature that is a priceless Bulgarian and world heritage and is included in UNESCO’s “Man and the Biosphere” program.
The landscape of the Pirin Mountains is diverse and includes a notable alpine area, dotted with many lakes, forested mountain landscapes that define the unique fauna richness in the mountain.
The composition of forests in the territory of Pirin National Park includes 16 tree species, some of them are endemic species, others are of particular conservation significance, or represent some of the largest inventories of tree species in Europe and in Bulgaria. The total area of the Pirin National Park is 40,356 ha and the forested area is 23,110 ha. Within the large area there is dwarf pine, white fir, white pine, spruce, fir, beech, and black pine. The average age of forests in Pirin National Park is 85 years, the largest proportion of forests are older than 140 years.
The best way to explore the city is taking a little tour around the lake starting from the southernmost side up to the northernmost. Take a stroll on the narrow pathway along the lake’s coast; you will be overwhelmed by its idyllic beauty and tranquility.
The Holy Trinity Church and especially its tall belfry have become a symbol of Bansko as one of the most attractive mountain resorts, successfully combining the charm of its rich historical past and its picturesque location at the foot of the mighty Pirin Mountain with the most modern facilities for recreation – a wide choice of reputable hotels for all tastes and budgets, one of the best ski zone in South-East Europe.
The Church dedicated to the Holy Trinity was built in the period of the Bulgarian National Revival. Its inauguration was made in 1835. The architectural plan of the church is a three-nave basilica or more exactly a pseudo-basilica with 44 m length, 22 m width and 12 m height. The walls are 1.1 m thick and entirely constructed of local ashlar, welded together by mortar. Large wooden beams of centuries old white fir (typical for the region) are used in the foundation and for leveling the walls. Part of the church is sunken under the ground level in order to look smaller from the outside and Turks can not get an idea about its real size. The altar piece is set within a skillfully constructed and decorated apse in the form of the half of a 18-angle prism with a remarkable stone cornice on the exterior. The roof is hold in the interior of the church by 12 massive wooden columns of white fir, symbolizing the 12 apostles.
Velyan’s House in Bansko is located near the Holy Trinity Church and the central square of the town. The house is an example of the architectural style – fortified house of the Bulgarian Revival Period. Velyan’s House was built in the 18th century and was opened to visitors in 1977.
This was a modern two-story building made of stone and wood owned by a wealthy trade family with many children. After a sudden tragedy the family left the house. When the master-painter Velyan Ognev was invited come to Bansko to work on the decoration of the Holy Trinity Temple, the house was given to him by the local people as a symbol of gratitude. The master decorated its interior and exterior and transformed it into a genuine piece of art. With its hiding places, secret exits and fortified walls the Velanova kashta is a piece of legacy from the old times when Bulgaria was under Otoman rule and when people were supposed to hide and protect themselves by the numerous attacks by bandits at that time.
The Byzantine Art Museum (in Dexameni square), where artifacts from the Byzantine period are showcased; over 700 well preserved byzantine sculptures, murals, paintings and icons from temples from around the city.
The Monastery of Zermbitsa is located in a prominent location atop a hill of Mt Taygetos. This setting gives visitors to the monastery a rare treat because from here you can behold the splendor of the magnificent Evrotas River valley. Looking westward, we see the highest peak of our proud and majestic Mt. Taygetos.
Panagia Eikonistria is the most holy site of the island since the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary (Panagia) was found here around 1650. An important intellectual figure of the island and of the Church, Dionysios the Old, was a monk in this monastery.
Koukounaries beach is the most famous beach of Skiathos, therefore the most crowded. It is well-known for its extremely fine white sand and its fragrant pine trees forest from which the region took its name. It is considered as the most unspoiled natural beach of the Mediterranean and is a protected environment. The beautiful crystal-clear deep blue waters are a real pleasure. Since the beach is well-organized, it offers many water sports, chairs, umbrellas, beach bars.
The region around the beach is full of restaurants, taverns and hotel units. A local bus links this beach to the capital every 30 minutes. A biotope can be found in the pine forest boarding the beach where different species of plants and birds are protected. This place, as well as the beach, is developed for ecotourism, financed by the Municipality and the European Union.
Ohrid was enriched with another cultural and historical landmark as well as with a tourist attraction - Museum on Water - an exceptional archaeological complex, which is one of a kind in the region. On the southern coast of Gradiste Peninsula in the Bay of Bones, a pile-dwelling settlement has been erected, which in the past was spreading at a total surface of 8.500 m2. Bay of the Bones is an authentic reconstruction of a part of the pile-dwelling settlement, dating back between 1200 and 700 BC.A Roman military fortification (Gradiste) has been reconstructed on the hill above the Bay of Bones simultaneously with constructing the pile-dwelling settlement and the Water Museum. The walls of the fortification that once had protected the Roman Empire from its enemies, are once again lifted up on the hill near Gradiste.
The Roman fortress is connected with the settlement in order tourists and visitors to be given an extraordinary opportunity to experience time travel, from prehistoric to ancient times and vice versa.
Set amidst lush verdure where the River Crn Drim tumbles into the lake, the monastery of St. Naum is a refuge of tranquillity at the very southwestern corner of the Macedonian Republic. Situated 29 km (18 m) from the town of Ohrid and only 1 kilometre (0.6 m) from the Albanian border, the monastery brings the Macedonian experience to a dramatic culmination.
As with most Byzantine churches, St. Naum was chosen primarily for its location – on a high, rocky outcropping over the lake, above deep forests and life-giving springs of the river Crn Drim. The monastic complex and church of St. Naum was built originally at the turn of the tenth century by the monk that bore the same name; Macedonians believe you can still hear the saint’s heartbeat by pressing an ear to his stone coffin inside the church.
The monastery has been renewed and enlarged several times over the centuries. While most of its iconostases and frescoes date from the 16th and 17th century, earlier etchings in the Byzantine Greek vernacular also remain. But numerous orthographical mistakes indicate that they were written by Slavic-speaking local monks. Other inscriptions in the church make up some of the oldest epigraphic evidence of Slavic literacy.
The icons of St. Naum are some of the best religious painting achievements in the Balkans. They date from the first half of the 18th century. The wood-carved iconostasis itself was made in 1711 by an unknown artisan.
A peculiar element of St. Naum is located not on the inside of the church but on the outside: the preponderance of multi-coloured peacocks strutting around and luxuriating in the grass.
The church of St. Sofia is one of the largest medieval churches on this territory. For a long time, it was the cathedral church ("Great Church") of the Ohrid Archiepiscopate whose ecclesiastical authority covered the territories up to the river Danube to the north, the Albanian coast to the west, and the Bay of Thessalonica to the east. The church was probably used as a cathedral way back in the past, in the period of the Car Samuel who, in the late X century, moved his throne from Prespa to Ohrid. The other assumption is that there used to be another church on the same site during the reign of the Macedonian Czar Samuel and that later on this church was ruined for unknown reasons. The date of the construction of that church is uncertain because there are no inscriptions that help reveal it. It is also mentioned that today's church was either built or restored during the period of the Archbishop Leo who was on the throne of the Church in the period between 1035-1056. His esteemed ecclesiastical principle became a donor of the painting decorations in the church of St. Sofia. The original church had only one main dome. In the XIV century, an opulent external narthex was constructed. Its original shape was a three-naval basilica with a transept, a dome, and galleries on the side naves. It had a parvis and separate chapels above the northern and southern altar sections even in XI century. Almost three centuries later, during the period of the Archbishop Gregorius, a new parvis was built. It represents the climax of the Macedonian XIV-century culture. The concept of the extended parvis was horizontal, with a portico on the ground, and galleries on the first floor. Above the Gregorious Gallery, on the northern and southern sides, there were separate sections with towers. With the arrival of the Turks, the church St. Sofia was converted into a mosque. They "took care" to reshape the church almost entirely so that it could serve the Muslim religion. The frescoes were whitewashed, the ornamented plates from the iconostasis were used for constructing the internal staircase, and a minaret was built above the northwest dome. These undertakings distorted the structure of the entire church. In the period from 1950 to 1957 extensive conservatory and restoration activities were performed. The frescoes were cleaned and conserved, and also some reconstruction work was done. The fresco paintings in the church are amongst the highest achievements in medieval painting in Macedonia and even wider. At that time Ohrid was under the direct authority of the Constantinople Patriarchate, so these are the most important preserved works of Byzantine monumental painting. The donor of the fresco paintings, one of the most learned men of the time, Archbishop Leo, directly influenced the selection of the compositions painted in the XI century.
The builders of Ohrid’s ancient theater have estimated very precisely where to put the building - in the center of the elevated old town. The open theater holds a perfect location, as the two hills (Gorni Saraj and Deboj) keep it protected from winds that could interfere with acoustics during performances. The Ancient theatre of Ohrid of the Hellenistic period was built in 200 BC and is the only Hellenistic-type theatre in the country as the other three in Scupi, Stobi and Heraclea Lyncestis are from Roman times. It is unclear how many people the original theatre used to seat, as only the lower section still exists.
During Roman times, the theater was also used for gladiator fights. However, since the theater was also a site of executions of Christians by the Romans, it rapidly turned to a highly disliked site by the locals. In fact, as a result of this dislike, the theatre was abandoned and buried by the locals after the demise of the Roman Empire. Discovered accidentally and later excavated completely, this 4, 000 square meter monument to antique Greco-Roman culture is being used today during the annual Ohrid Summer Festival for performances of ancient tragedies and comedies. The Theatre offers a wonderful view of Lake Ohrid and Mt. Galichica to the southeast.
One of the most magnificent churches in all of Macedonia stands right above a small fishing settlement, on a cliff rising up from Lake Ohrid; St. Jovan Kaneo is a combination of Byzantine and Armenian architectural styles.
Built in the honour of St. John the Theologian, St. Kaneo with its sublime atmosphere and views of the placid lake below, remains an inspiring place for spiritual contemplation. The church which was consecrated at the end of the 13th century was built on a rectangular stone base. Its exterior is decorated with ceramic decorative sculptures and stone carvings. Though the fresco painters are unknown, the fragments that have been preserved are of exceptional quality; the Communion of the Apostles and the portraits of St. Clement, St. Erasmus and Constantine Kavasilas especially stand out.
Being as it is - an extraordinarily unique construction - St. Kaneo is indeed one of the most beautiful churches in Macedonia as well as in the whole Balkan region.
The Millennium Cross (Macedonian: Милениумски крст, Latinic: Mileniumski krst) is a 66 metre-high cross situated on the top of the Vodno Mountain in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. It was constructed to serve as a memorial of 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia and the world. The construction of the cross began in 2002 and was funded by the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Macedonian government and donations from Macedonians from all over the world. The cross was built on the highest point of the Vodno mountain on a place known since the time of the Ottoman Empire as "Krstovar", meaning "Place of the cross", as there was a smaller cross situated there. On 8 September 2008, the independence day of the Republic of Macedonia, an elevator was installed inside the cross. In 2009, a restaurant and a souvenir shop were opened next to the cross. In 2011 the Millennium Cross ropeway was opened. The ropeway is three and a half km long. At night the cross shines down over the city.
The desire to pay respect to one the most famous person and Nobel Prize winner from Macedonia was accomplished on the 30-th of January 2009 with the opening of the Memorial house dedicated to Mother Teresa. The Memorial house of Mother Teresa is a non-profit organization financed by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia. The Location of the museum is not randomly chosen. That is to say, on this exact place the old Catholic Church “Sacred heart of Jesus” used to stand. It is where Mother Teresa, then Gonxha Bojaxhiu was baptized just one day after her birth, on the 27th of August 1910, place where she received her first communion and where she finds her inner peace after her father’s death.
This place had great importance and influence on developing the character of young Gonxha and to her desire to help the poor people. Since she was a child she sang in the Catholic Church choir and participated in charity organizations. Somehow the location itself represents a symbolic bridge that connects little Gonxha to one of the greatest humanitarian of the world, Mother Teresa.
The Old Bazaar (Macedonian: Стара Чаршија, Stara Čaršija from the Turkish: Çarşı meaning marketplace, Albanian: Çarshia e Vjetër) in Skopje is the largest bazaar in the Balkans outside Istanbul. It is situated on the eastern bank of the Vardar River, stretching from the Stone Bridge to the Bit-Pazar and from the Skopje Fortress to the Serava river.
The Old Bazaar falls within the borders of Centar and Čair municipalities and is a protected national landmark. The earliest known documented sources that point out to the existence of a merchant quarter on the bazaar's territory date back to the 12th century. During the Ottoman rule with the city, the place underwent a rapid development to become city's main economic and merchant centre, evidenced by about 30 mosques, numerous caravanserais and hans, as well as other Ottoman buildings and monuments. The bazaar was heavily damaged by the earthquakes that occurred in 1555 and 1963, and the destructions caused during the First and the Second World War. Subsequently, it was reconstructed on several occasions and nowadays represents the only remaining cultural monument in the Republic of Macedonia, which has kept its multicultural heritage of different civilizations.
The Skopje Fortress commonly referred to as Kale Fortress, or simply Kale (from kale, the Turkish word for 'fortress'), is a historic fortress located in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. It is situated on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River. The fortress is depicted on the coat of arms of Skopje, which in turn is incorporated in the city's flag.
The first fortress, according to research and available data, is believed to have been built amidst the 6th century A.D., on land that had been inhabited during the Neolithic and Bronze ages or roughly 4000 B.C. It was constructed with yellow limestone and travertine and along with fragments of Latin inscriptions, asserts the idea that the fortress originated from the Roman city of Skupi, which was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 518.
The fortress is thought to have been reconstructed during the rule of emperor Justinian I and constructed further during the 10th and 11th centuries over the remains of emperor Justinian's Byzantine fortress which may have been destroyed due to a number of wars and battles in the region, such as that of the uprising of the Bulgarian Empire against the Byzantine Empire under the rule of Peter Delyan. Not much is known about the Medieval fortress apart from a few documents which outline minor characteristics in the fortress' appearance.
Matka - A gorge in which a rich complex of mediaeval building survives, including churches, monasteries and remnants of a fortress (the mediaeval town of Matka).There are dozens of caves and a large number of endemic plants and animals. The Canyon covers an area of around 5.000ha and is located 15km south-west of Skopje. By its morphogenetic characteristic, it is a breakthrough gorge. Krastic form deserve particular attention here-ten caves with their length ranging between 20 and 176 meters and two vertical chasms with a depth up to 35 meters. Matka was one of the largest refugee centers during the glacial period resulting in the presence of a high number of relic and endemic plants, 20% are endemic or relic spices. Among Tertiary relics, the most significant are the Kozani violet and Italy's Ramonda (Ramonda Natalie). It is also important to mention that there are 77 species of Balkan endemic small butterflies in area of Matka Canyon, while 18 other species are new to the science.
The routes around the lake offer exquisite scenery and plenty to explore. A tour by car is an experience to suit all kinds of traveller - there is much to see, much to learn about, and there is the serene calming effect of the lake
The imposing castle of Ioannina was built in 528 AD by the Emperor Justinian, and was an ambitious expression of the might of the Byzantine Empire. It is the oldest Byzantine fortress in Greece with significant influence over the history of the town which grew around it.
The traditional Ioannina desserts are famous throughout Greece. The famous ‘sker bourek’, or ‘sugar pie’, the exceptionally delicious baklava and the other syrup pastries are but a few of the flavours that are certain to captivate visitors.
Tsar Simeon's Garden in Plovdiv is created in 1892 by the Swiss landscape architect Lucien Chevalas (1840-1921). In 1879 Bulgarian knyaz Aleksandar Bogoridi invited Chevalas to become the official gardener of Plovdiv. For all his contribution to the city, in 1901 he was declared an honorary citizen of Plovdiv. Often he is referred to as “the Minister of flowers”.
A Viennese pavilion is built in the centre of the park. The pavilion is with a metal openwork construction and is a replica of the 1936-Central Pavilion. All this was possible with the help of archival photographs and historical evidences from the Book of the fair. In addition there is new lighting in the park, and also new benches and modern children's playgrounds are installed. The trees and the flowers turn the park in a paradise garden.
The pearl on the crown of the park is the renovated Lake with the Singing Fountains. You can enjoy the light show of the lake intertwined with water effects.
The building was erected as an officers club in 1895. In the period 1905-1923 it was Peoples Home, which housed workers theatre, brass band and evening classes.
In 1951 the building was turned into a Museum of the History of Capitalism, Working Class Movement and Socialist Construction. Nowadays it accommodates the Museum Centre of Modern History with a large, fully equipped hall, which allows the arrangement of art and photographic exhibitions, presentations, seminars and other public events.
The Stadium of Philippopolis was built in the beginning of 2nd century AD during the reign Emperor Hadrian. It is situated in the Northern part of the fortified city surrounded by defence walls, in the natural terrain between Taksim Tepe and Sahat Tepe.
The facility, approximately 240 meters long and 50 meters wide, could seat up to 30 000 spectators. According to the epigraphic and numismatic monuments games similar to the Pythian Games in Greece were held in the town. To honour the visit of the Roman emperor Caracalla in 214 the games were called Alexandrian while the games for the visit of emperor Elagabalus in 218 were called Kedrisian Games.
There you can dive underground at the original level of the Ancient town. The space open for visitors includes a part of the track, the semi-circular part of the spectator seats (sfendona) and a panoramic wall with hypothetical reconstruction of the missing space of the facility. Some of the discovered elements of the Stadium are identified along the main street of Plovdiv.
The Ancient theatre of Philipoppol is one of the best-preserved ancient theatres in the World. It is located on the Southern slope of the Three Hills, in the saddle between Taksim and Dzhambaz tepe. Discovered by archaeologists from Plovdiv and reconstructed in the beginning of the 80s of XX century, the Ancient theatre of Philipoppol is among the most significant findings from the Roman period. Recently found and deciphered inscription on a monumental pedestal reveals that the theatre has been constructed in the 90s of I century A.D., when Philippolol was under the rulership of Titus Flavius Cotis – an heir of a Thracian Royal Dynasty, the high priest of the Tracian province, representative of the Metropolitan Court of Justice and a person in charge of the construction sites.
Nowadays, the Ancient theatre is symbolical for Plovdiv and adjusted to the city’s modern cultural life. It is operating as a stage of opera, music and drama. Some of the best annual events are the International Folklore Festival, the Opera Festival "Opera Open", the Rock Festival "Sounds of Ages" and many others.
The Numismatic Department of Plovdiv Regional Archaeological Museum boasts a collection of 60,000 coins, dated VI c. B. C. - XX c. A. D. The department is constantly enriching its fund either through acquisition from various archaeological excavations or by buying out coins from private collectors.
A substantial part of the numismatic treasure of the Archaeological Museum is comprised of coins minted in the period of I - V c. A. D. Philippopolis was the first town in the inner part of Thrace that began to mint the so-called "pseudo-autonomous" bronze coins. The Emperors Domicianus (81 - 96), Trajan (98 - 117) and Hadrian (117 - 138) gave permission to the town to issue coins without the mediation of the Roman legates, temporarily governing Thrace. Alongside with the coins, the Museum collection holds a considerable amount of medallions, issued as commemorative signs to eminent representatives of the Emperor in the province or to town notables. In some periods they were also used as legal tender.
The Museum boasts one of the richest collections of 100.000 exhibits of artefacts related to the history of Plovdiv and its region. Plovdiv is the heir to one of the biggest and most famous ancient towns in the Balkan Penninsula - Philippopolis.
Steering just a little from the Main Street in Plovdiv and imperceptibly you find yourself in “Kapana” (literal translation: “The Trap”). Once you get there you would never want to go back.
You will find galleries, workshops, ateliers, studios, cozy restaurants and shops, as well as other art spaces, and there is even a vinyl shop! And to back our words up, here is a list of places you should not miss in “Kapana”: Vinyl’s home place Soul Searchin’ – Point-Blank Gallery – Darvodelie Atelier – What A monster – Kotka and Mishka....
All these places fill “Kapana” with modern cultural content not only with their daily activities but also organizing events with social, economic and cultural effect for the city. What happens in the new/old art district of Plovdiv is so much – concerts, exhibitions, festivals, forums, brainstorming sessions and discussions, theatrical performances, art installations, screenings, workshops and many more.