ABOUT MACEDONIA

Macedonia is a country located in the region of Vardar Macedonia, in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. The country is one of the republics of the former Yugoslavia, which declared independence in 1991. Macedonia occupies about 38% of the total area of Macedonia region. Geographically, the country borders Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. The relief of the country is mainly mountainous. Although it's a continental country, it has more than 50 lakes and sixteen mountains higher than 2,000 meters.
Macedonia is a sovereign, independent, democratic and social state. The capital is Skopje, with a population of 506,926 people (estimation for 2004). Other major cities are Bitola, Kumanovo, Prilep, Tetovo, Ohrid, Veles, Stip, Kocani, Gostivar and Strumica. Macedonia has a total of 25,713 square kilometers in which live around 2,114,550 inhabitants (estimate for 2009), of which the majority are Macedonians. The official language is the Macedonian language and the official currency is the Macedonian denar.In 1993, Macedonia became a member of the United Nations, but because of the name dispute that the country is having with Greece, the application is made under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Macedonia is a member of the Council of Europe. Since December 2005, Macedonia is also a candidate to join the European Union and has applied to join NATO too.
st.jovan kaneo
Church St.Jovan-Kaneo in Ohrid

Antic Macedonia


Archaeological finds show that on the area of ​​Macedonia, existed civilization since the period between 9000 BC and 3500 BC . The first Macedonian Kingdom appeared during the IX century BC, and there is a doubt about who was the first Macedonian king - Karan (who is considered the mythical ancestor of Argead Dynasty) or Perdika I (first historical king of the Kingdom of Macedonia) .
Approximately from the V century BC, the Kingdom of Macedonia becomes a significant political and economic player in the region. Philip II of Macedonia, after obedience of Illyrians and Thracians, also managed to conquer Greece too. His son, Alexander III of Macedonia is one of the most important figures in world history. He first broke the internal resistance in the extended Macedonian Kingdom, and later has destroyed the vast Persian Empire and extended the Macedonian state on three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa, extending on the Balkans and Asia Minor, Middle East, Egypt and India, and thus was created the Macedonian Empire. After his death, this huge empire, due to disagreements of his generals about who will be his successor, has divided in 3 parts: the Seleucids kingdom, the Kingdom of Ptolemais and the Kingdom of Antigonids. Conquests of Alexander III of Macedonia are essential for the initiation of the Hellenistic period in world history.
The penetration of the Roman Republic to east, leads to the so-called Macedonian-Roman wars in which Macedonian kingdom driven by the Dynasty of Antigonids, fully falls under Roman rule, and the last Macedonian king Perseus is taken as a slave in Rome. It became a Roman province as part of the Roman Empire and was divided into 2 parts - Macedonia Prima and Macedonia Salutaris. The territory of today's Republic of Macedonia was divided between the provinces Macedonia Salutaris and Moesia Prima. After the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD on Eastern and Western Roman Empire, Macedonia becomes part of the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium.

Philip II
Monument of Philip II in Bitola

Moving of the Slavs
In VI and VII century in the Balkans and Macedonia came the Slavs, reaching south to Thessaly, even to the Peloponnese. They mixed with the locals, mostly ancient Macedonians, then Greeks, Illyrians and Thracians. On Macedonian territory, which then was under Byzantine jurisdiction, Macedonian Slavs were organized in half-country formations - Macedonian Sclavinians. Sclavinians took many attacks against Byzantium and against established Byzantine cities.
In 837., Macedonia begins to fall under the authority of the Bulgarian state, so until the middle of the IX century, most of Macedonia came under Bulgarian rule, and the other part was included within the Byzantine Empire. In the IX century, also begins the religious-educational activity of the Solun brothers Cyril and Methodius, consisted of more missions for Christianization of the Slavs, but also in they layed the foundations of the Slavic alphabet, beginning with the creation of the Slavic alphabet - the Glagolitic alphabet, in 855. Their disciples Clement and Naum, will continue their work and at the end of the IX century, will create the Ohrid Literary School and Preslav Literary School, which made Ohrid to soon became one of the most religious-educational and cultural center of the Balkans, the cradle of Slavic literacy.

St.Cyril
Monument of St.Cyril in Skopje

In the X century, Macedonia will be hit by the Bogomil movement and learning, first created in Veles-Prilep area, as an echo of the submissive feudal church-economic system. It soon spread not only in Macedonia, but also throughout Europe.
With the upcoming uprisings in Macedonia in the second half of X century, in 969 year against Bulgaria and in 976 against the Byzantine Empire, was created Macedonian medieval feudal state, also known as King Samuel's Kingdom. Macedonian medieval feudal state existed until 1018, when was conquered by the Byzantine armies. In the 13th and 14th century, the Byzantine control of Macedonia was interrupted by periods of Serbian and Bulgarian rule.
By the end of the XIV century, Macedonia was completely conquered by the Ottomans, bringing its economic and social system to destroy, and also its further social and cultural development was significantly slowed down. In 1767,the Sultan overturned Ohrid Archbishopric.

Strengthening the national language

From the XIV century in Macedonia the influence of the Serbian version of Old Church Slavonic begins to strengthen. The reason for it was joining the Macedonian lands to then Serbian state. That influence relates mainly to spelling. In addition, in the literary monuments of that time are visible traces of modern living Macedonian speeches.
At the time of the Ottoman Empire, literacy is experiencing a decline. Its language is further away from the Old Slavic basis, because in the living vernacular were already accumulated more significant changes. Besides church liturgical books, in which was more taken into consideration the oldest written Slavic tradition, appear more such texts used for reading a wider circle of people or represent inscriptions for practical use.
In the XVI century, books are printed in Serbia and Venice. In the XII century, came large quantities of church books printed in Russia in Russian-Slavic language.

National awakening

During the Ottoman rule, the position of Macedonians and the creation of a Macedonian state was very hard. Several movements whose goals were the creation of an autonomous Macedonia, which covers the entire region of Macedonia, started to appear in the late XIX century, and the oldest of them is the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. In 1905 it was renamed in Internal Macedonian - Odrin Revolutionary Organization, and after the World War II, organization was divided into Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO) and Internal Thracian Revolutionary Organization. Most members still were Macedonians. In 1903 IMRO (VMRO) organized the Ilinden Uprising against the Ottomans, who after some initial successes, including the establishment of the Krusevo Republic was defeated with great human losses. The uprising and the formation of the Krusevo Republic later will greatly affect to the creation of today's Republic.

Macedonian flag
Macedonian flag

Municipalities in Macedonia

Municipalities in Macedonia are administrative units of the first order. In August 2004, the Republic of Macedonia was reorganized into 84 municipalities; 10 of them are the City of Skopje, a separate unit of local government and capital of the state.
Almost all municipalities are unchanged or only assimilated from the previous 123 municipalities established in September 1996; others were attached to each other and their boundaries changed. Prior to this, the local authority has been organized into 34 administrative units at different levels.
By number of population, the largest municipality in the Republic of Macedonia is Kumanovo municipality with 105,484 inhabitants, and the smallest municipality is Vranestica with 1322 inhabitants.


Location

Macedonia has an area of ​​25,713 km2 and landlocked. Republic of Macedonia to east is bordering Bulgaria, to the north Serbia, on the west Albania and south with Greece. The length of the state border is 766 km.
The significance of the geographical position of the Republic of Macedonia as a central Balkan state bordering with four countries, different in their economic potential and development, is that they are addressed to mutual trade and complementariness of their economies, exactly through the territory of the Republic of Macedonia.

Mountain Baba
Mountain Baba

Relief

Macedonia is a country that is enclosed within its borders and is landlocked. It is geographically defined by a valley which forms the largest river in its territory - Vardar, which is bordered by several mountain ranges. Generally the land is uneven and located between the Shar Mountains and Osogovo that border the valley of the river Vardar. The three largest natural lakes in the country are Ohrid, Prespa and Dojran lake. They lie on the southern border, and are divided between the borders with Albania and Greece. Lake Ohrid is considered one of the oldest lakes and biotopes in the world. The region is seismically active and many crashes have occurred in the past.

lake Ohrid
Lake Ohrid


Religion in Macedonia (2002)

Eastern Orthodoxy (64.8%)
Islam (33.3%)
Catholicism (0.4%)
Others/None (1.5%)

In the Republic of Macedonia, the most common religion is Orthodox Christianity, practiced by most of the ethnic Macedonians. The vast majority of the Orthodox Christians in the country belong to the Macedonian Orthodox Church, which declared autocephaly from the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1967.

Muslims are the second-largest religious group with almost one-third of the population adhering to Islam, mainly from the country's Albanian and Turkish minorities. There are also many other religious groups in Macedonia, including Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism.
monastery
Monastery St.Jovan Bigorski



BITOLA - THE CITY OF CONSULS (PART 1)

Bitola - a town in southwestern Macedonia, administrative, cultural, economic, industrial, and educational center for that part of the country. The city is known as the city of consuls, because there were consular missions of the European countries at the time of the Ottoman Empire, where together with Solun (Thessaloniki), Bitola was the most important place in the European part of the empire. Today, many of the consular offices in the country are located here. Bitola is the second largest city in Macedonia according to the number of inhabitants. During Yugoslavia, Bitola was one of the cultural centers in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, as well as in Yugoslavia. Father of the Turkish nation, Kemal Atatürk, attended officer school in Bitola. Some of his works are kept in the National Museum.
photo by Gordana Adzieva
View of Magnolia Square with the monument of Philip II of Macedonia - the founder of Bitola and the famous clock tower in the background, photo by Gordana Adzieva-Mihajlovska
Etymology

Throughout history, depending on the rulers, Bitola had many names. According to Adrian Room, the Slavic name for the city, Bitola, comes from the word Monastery (Old Slavonic Obitѣlь) and this term today is used in Croatian language (Obitelj), which during the Middle Ages was used to name a community of monks, a family or monastery. Bitola was named after the many monasteries that were in town and in the surrounding area, and some of them still exist today. Over time, the voice O was disposed in the pronunciation of the word "Obitel" and the name of the city becomes Bitola. Greeks called the city Monastir (Greek: Μοναστήρι). Bitola is the present official name of the city, but also the oldest title, judging by Bitola plate from 1015 on which the city is mentioned, as well as according to many generals of the Emperor Samuel, and passengers at the time. Arab traveler Abu Abdallah Muhammad al-Idrisi in the XII century wrote: "It takes two days to travel east to reach the Ahrida (Ohrid) and Butyl (Bitola). Butyl is unusual and beautiful city. "
There are tales that on the right bank of the river Dragor were 41 churches and the same number of mills for maintaining the churches. Also on the left bank of the Dragor there were 29 churches with 29 mills. During the holidays at this time, people from the villages of Bitola area gathered in those churches where they performed their religious rites. Since the land on which was located the city of Bitola was then covered with numerous monasteries, the city was named Monastery.
River Dragor
River Dragor

 According to the written records of Marco Cepenkov Bitola was named after some rich man named Toljo, who had his fortress near the village Bukovo. At the time when the Turks came to conquer this part of Macedonia, they called him saying "Bi Toljo, Bi Toljo" which according to Marko Cepenkov is where the current name of the city of Bitola comes from.

During Ottoman rule, the city was called Monastery, which Turks and Albanians adopted from the Greeks. After the Balkan Wars in 1913, the city falls under Serb occupation and again receives the old name Bitola.

History

Many important events in Macedonian and Balkan history took place in Bitola. The city was built, rebuilt, damaged and re-built and upgraded since its first settlement in the Late Bronze Age. Then in the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire, until the Byzantine time, had the status of a town with a high degree of civilization.
Bitola korzo
Shirok Sokak (famous promenade in Bitola)



Traditionally the strong commercial center, is known as the city of consuls because at one point during the Ottoman Empire, Bitola had even twenty consulates from various European countries. In the same period, the city had many schools, among others, the military academy, which attended the famous Turkish reformer Kemal Ataturk. At the end of the XIX century, Bitola was so powerful city, that its population constantly grew and exceeded the population of Belgrade. The city was crowded with factories and photographic shops and the interesting part is that despite Singer in Bitola, even at that time there was a factory for sweets in Bitola. Bitola recorded the first photos and movies thanks to the brothers Manaki. It was the golden age of the city. Unfortunately, during the Balkan wars, many battles were driven around the city and in the city itself, so, many physical evidences were burned or were completely destroyed. The architecture was recovered, especially in the last fifteen years, and evidence of everything that happened are the stories from the elders who remember well what happened.



To be continued...

RAKIJA - CONNECTING PEOPLE (HOW IT'S MADE)

Home production of brandy (rakija) is a tradition in Macedonia. In order to receive high quality grape and fruit brandy, producers should be very careful with the technology and manufacturing process.

boiling rakija
Rakija - connecting people
Thе process of fermenting the grapes (cleared from vine stems and leaves) lasts at least 60 days in warmer days, while later in the autumn, that process lasts longer. Now, when the grapes would "lie" at the bottom of the barrel, means that they are fermented. According to the old master, in recent times, rather than wait for weeks, wine yeast was added that made the grapes ferment faster and all bacteria were destroyed. Yet most important of all is if the grapes have sugar; if there is sugar, there will be more brandy, and therefore the wine cellars don't purchase grapes with more sugar because it is not so good for making wine.
When the process of boiling is finished and grape becomes komina, the cauldron for making brandy is set. The complete equipment for making brandy is consisted of a copper pot and pot that differs from the barrel for having no lid, and it must constantly have cold water inside so by cooling, condensation can be turned into liquid alcohol. Both containers are connected with a pipe where the condensed liquid from the one container is transferred to the other container filled with cold water.
set for rakija
Set for making rakija

To obtain a quality brandy, follow these important rules:

1. Fruits from the fruit trees and grapes should be harvested at full maturity and shoudn't be rotten.
2. Containers where blended grapes or fruits are put should be wooden or plastic for food purposes. We should not use plastic containers that are used for storage and transmission of technical materials such as plastics which affect human health.
3. Before use, containers should be well cleaned, wooden pots are cleaned with hot water and wooden soda and plastic containers are cleaned with appropriate detergent and rinsed well. Very good cleaning of the tank is achieved with a solution of salt in quantities of 100 to 200 g with 200-400 ml vinegar. Use a cloth soaked in this solution and rub the whole inner surface of the tank and inside of the pipe.
4. After grinding the grape or fruit pulp, should be added vinobran 5-10 grams per 100 kg mash and it should be pressed with wooden or plastic grid on which is placed a stone, so the pulp would be held completely submerged during the whole process. The containers are filled to 80% of the volume, so there won't happen any leakage during the tumultuous part of boiling.
5. Wooden containers are covered with wooden cover on which we put a nylon and wrap the container's opening and nylon is stretched (wired with a binding cord made of rubber). Plastic containers should be covered with their original covers.
6. To obtain a quality brandy, grapes and liquid aren't boiled together, but just fruit liquid. Cauldrons are filled with fruit liquid to 90% of the volume of the tank, and the rest is filled with water. The container where the fruit remains are, is filled with water with the same amount as we previously eastward fluid or wine. Water stands for 2-4 days and then the cauldrons are filled with the liquid of 95% by volume and is brewed brandy. So, working with liquids only, with the first boiled liquid we extract 80-90% of alcohol from the mashed fruit and with the second - the rest to 100%.

rakija