In the heart of the Balkans, Macedonia, former Republic of the former Yugoslavia, is still too little known if compared to its neighbors, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina or Serbia. Who can locate it without hesitation on the map of Europe? This small country of 2 million people suffers from an image deficit, while it puts its eyes to those who know how to wonder about the extraordinary variety of landscapes, mixing mountainous hills, volcanic landslides, gorges and canyons, but also an architectural heritage that has given him the nickname of «East crossroads.» and the West. Beautiful orthodox monasteries nestled on the mountain side, Catholic churches or Ottoman mosques at welcoming gardens, add beautiful stone to the infinite blue of the lakes, to the thick green of the forests and complement the warm colors of the valleys. And they're not salads…

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No, no, the OS Museum on Orhid Bay is not a tourist catch! This revival of prehistoric lake village, open to the public since late 2008, has been inspired by Ploč ̱ a Mič ˇ ov Grad's submarine excavation site (a little further north on the coast) which contains discoveries of the bronze age and iron age. Of 8,500 m 2, no fewer than 6,000 staging sites have been updated since 1997. This suggests the existence of a lake village of twenty houses, occupied between 1200 and 700 years before our age. Many objects were also found: flint, stone and bronze tools, pottery, some of which are perfectly preserved. But especially the large amount of bone cut for different uses that gave its name to the site. The reconstituted village consists of a platform of 1.5 m above the water on which eight houses are based, including two circular forms. The interior of the houses has been reconstituted with beast skins and reproductions of the various objects discovered in Ploča Mičov Grad.

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At 8 km north-west of Kratovo, Dubica Hill stands with its many stone figures, often exceeding 10 meters in height and resembling the misguided human forms. You are in the village of Kuklica (Dolls). Nicknamed stone dolls (kameni kuli), hundreds of columns of rock around the surrounding area appeared thousands of years ago. Several legends differ as to their version. The most traditional is that it would be the brides and their guests, petrified by a lover of love and jealous of his rival, promised to his man who had chosen another… The second story, that of scientists, is responsible for the long erosion of volcanic stones ten thousand years ago! Whatever history you decide to believe, the dolls are waiting for you. We have to see to believe.

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A true museum city, Ohrid carefully guards the traces of a rich history, as if past centuries continued to live in the memory of the stones. The old town covers only a few square kilometers but, protected from the walls of the citadel, basilica and churches, vestiges of ancient temples, attests to the ancient radiation of the city. Located at the top of one of the two hills of Ohrid, the other is occupied by the fortress, Saint-Clément is one of the most beautiful churches of Macedonia. Built in 1295 by the Byzantine General Progon Zgour, cousin of Andronic II Paleologo, it became the beginning of the sixteenth century, the archiepiscopal museum where numerous manuscripts in Slavic language were gathered. The great richness of this church undoubtedly lies in its frescoes restored in 1950, which are the work of two brothers, Michel and Eutychès, innovating in particular in the use of the perspective. But above all, its view on the lake, impregnable…

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The monastery of Osogovo, the most famous sacral building in Macedonia is located three kilometers northeast of Kriva Palanka, on one of the slopes of the mountainous massif of Osogovo, which starts from the north of Koč ≡ ani. Built at the time of the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Manojlo (1143-1180), it contains two buildings, namely the large and small church of the complex. The small church, renovated in the xivcentury century, is built of cut stones and bricks while the great was erected by a religious named Andrea Damjanov in the nineteenth century. Come and admire his twelve cupboards, each dedicated to an apostle. Inside, magnificent medieval frescoes cover stone walls. The Lord's doors are impenetrable, but not those of this Orthodox monastery, always open to curious people who wish.

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The stone bridge (kameni most in Macedonian) is considered with the fortress of Kale as the symbol of the Macedonian capital. Big advantage of Skopje, you can see the essential on foot. Within a radius of less than one kilometer around the stone bridge, the most preserved Ottoman city of the Balkans (the "Aršija"), the stunning "bruised" buildings inherited from the communist period (new city and city center) and the kitsch monuments of the Skopje 2014 project (center) -city). With regard to the stone bridge, some bring it back to the century but damaged and renovated many times, its form today is no longer that of yesterday. Long 214 m and wide of 6 m, the Kameni Most suffered damage during the clashes between Slaves and Albanians in 2001, and its coating and parapand had to be redone from 2004. Now reserved for pedestrians, he attracts a often dense crowd and tries to «bridge» the inhabitants of Skopje who now live on both sides of the Vardar…

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The painted mosque is one of the most remarkable buildings in Macedonia and is located in the old town of Tetovo, on the right bank of the Pena River. Built in the fifteenth century, the building is known under several names: the mosque painted, the bariolated mosque or, as the inhabitants call it, the mosque of Pacha (Pasamija in Macedonian, xhamia e pashës in Albanian). It included other buildings, such as a caravanserail and baths that left only one copy on the other side of the river. Its unique square room and roof covered with large dark tiles surprise as much as its walls adorned with rectangles including geometrical motifs that could appear on the back of cards to play, carpets or drapes. But they are characteristic of traditional Turkish decoration. The mosque is surrounded by a pleasant garden enclosed by walls, a compound that also includes a fountain intended for ablutions, preliminary of prayer. There were several mosques of this kind once in the region. Tetovo's is the last one that remains.

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The Dojran Lake and its surrounding areas in south-eastern Macedonia, just a few steps away from the Gulf of Thessaloniki, enjoy a rather Mediterranean climate. Its low altitude (148 meters) has a direct effect on the average temperature of the water between 15 ° and 18 ° up to 27 ° in summer, worthy of a tropical lake… We could never have known him. In 1988, Greece asked Belgrade for pumping permission for the irrigation of their fields. But the Yugoslav authorities are misinterpreting the water level figures and giving their consent before… In just over a month, lake level dropped by more than 80 cm and increased from 280 million to 60 million m 3. Catches of fish reach 50-70 tons a year, compared with 500 to 800 tons before the disaster. And the 60,000 visitors from the 1970 s and 1980 s left only a handful until 1998! Now tourists are pressing again.

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The Saint-Jean-Bigorski Monastery is located in the middle of the forest on the northwest slopes of the mountains Bistra. " Bigorski "comes from the Macedonian word Bigor, which means" tuf limestone ", stone with which the monastery was built in the eleventh century. He is also devoted to Saint Jean the Precursor (Jean-Baptiste). An icon lost and miraculous to the place where the church of the monastery now rises would have decided its construction in 1020. The current architecture of the entire monastery, however, indicates that it was built in 1800 and painted in the nineteenth century. The adjacent buildings, dating back to the second decade of the nineteenth century, as well as the original dining room, add to the harsh beauty of the monastery. But what does all the best of Saint-Jean-Bigorski is his iconostasis of carved wood from the beginning of the nineteenth century. It consists of more than 700 figures and is the work of the Filipovski brothers and Makarije Frč ╚ kovski, who themselves have represented themselves in the left part of their masterpieces.

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About fifteen kilometers from the capital, the Matka region attracts nature lovers and researchers as a natural reserve of rare animal species (including eagles and butterflies only on this site). Come and take advantage of this nature and lose yourself in the sighs that you will inspire this natural canyon of the Treska River between steep slopes and rocky ridges vertically. But Matka's speleological park has other arguments: over ten caves with a length ranging from 20 to 176 meters shelter lakes, stalactites and stalagmites. With its 212 meter background, Vrelo acts as the deepest submarine cave in the Balkans and second in Europe. Lovers of extreme sports will also be able to take part in sports climbing, mountaineering or kayaking…

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