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Selo Manastir in Mariovo

 

To the southeast of Prilep towards the border of Greece is the region of Mariovo. The ragged, beautiful area straddles the River Crna, which is flooded to the north (forming the manmade Tikves Lake), and to the south comes from Pelister National Park through Bitola and the ancient Paeonian city of Lynk, whose exact location is still not known. The river must have been an important one to the ancient Paeons, for outside the small village of Manastir is one of the finest examples of what little remains of their ancient cities. Built out of finely cut limestone blocks using what has become known as Cyclopean masonry (ie: a masonry technique which uses no mortar, but precision cuts and the size of the blocks to keep a construction together), these fortified cities date back to Aneolithic times.

 

Evidence of other such cities have been found in Demir Kapija, Vajtos near Ohrid, Debar, Tetovo, Prilep and Skopje amongst other places, usually in high locations that are easy to defend. The site at Mariovo is unusual for being in the river valley, and archaeologists are still researching the site to see if they can find clues as to why it was located there.

 

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To get to the site, take the road south of Prilep towards Bitola and turn off southeast towards the village of Vitoliste (signposted). After 5km the road passes the village of Stavica, a picturesque village used by Milco Mancevski in ‘Before the Rain’ movie. Another 25km later the road crosses the River Crna at the new bridge which replaced the old Ottoman bridge of Hasin Bey. The river crossing is popular with picnickers and fishermen, and parts of the old bridge can still be seen. After another 5 kilometers the old road to Manastir village is signposted from the opposite direction. Turn south to follow the recently paved road upstream for 4km towards the village of Manastir. The site of large old limestone blocks can be seen from this road. At the village the site is known as stari grad (old town) arxeolosko naogjaliste (archaeological site), and although the people who live here know about the site. It is admittedly just a site of old limestone blocks, but if you want to see for yourself the closer thing you’ll get to Cyclopean masonry built by the Paeons, then let your imagination build the rest of the city for you. The road to Manastir, 4km from the bridge, does not allow a vantage point on this site.

 

Manastir is best known for:
- Has one of the oldest monastery in Macedonia
- Original building was built in 1095, re-bult in 1271.
- Has the best spring (Izvor) in the region
- In the olden days had government offices to serve the region of Mariovo
- Celebrates sv Nikola holiday
- During winter months many hunters use the village as their main camp
- Has example of what little remains of ancient cities

 

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Last Update: August 17, 2017