Štip is the largest city in Eastern North Macedonia with about 44,000 people. It has been perhaps the most important educational, cultural, and economic centers of this half of Macedonia for centuries. The first opera in Macedonia was played in Štip in 1924. In 2007, Štip became home to the country's fourth state university when Goce Delčev University opened.
Štip is a very pleasant city that gets fewer tourists than the west, which makes the people nicer and more willing to help than the people in the western part of the country.
Smoking is prohibited in all nightclubs and bars (kafanas). Cigarettes and alcohol can be sold to individuals aged 18 and over.
As in all other cities in North Macedonia, if you are not a Macedonian citizen, you must check in with the local police station when you arrive and leave.
The history of Štip goes back a few thousand years, evidenced by archaeological findings. Perhaps the best intact archaeological site in its vicinity is Bargala, listed below in this guide.
Štip was an important city in Ottoman Macedonia: Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi noted in 1661 that Štip had 2,240 homes, 24 Islamic religious buildings, seven hans (Turkish baths), one caravansary (inn), and a bazaar with 450 shops. The city was briefly under Austro-Hungarian rule from 1689 to 1691.
Štip once had a relatively significant Jewish community. Following the Spanish Inquisition at the beginning of the 16th century, a number of Sephardic Jews settled in the city, with roughly 200 living here by 1519. On 11 March 1943, Štip's 551 Jews were deported to Treblinka by the occupying Bulgarian fascists where virtually all of them were killed. The city's Jewish quarter, including its synagogue and Jewish school, were destroyed.
The city was active between the world wars, home to the Association against Bulgarian Bandits from 1922 to 1930. Factions within Bulgaria felt that it deserved a larger share of Macedonia and other parts of Yugoslavia and thus organized guerilla attacks within eastern portions of Yugoslavia. Organizations like Štip's Association against Bulgarian Bandits helped suppress these attacks.
Today, Štip is home to a population that is nearly 90% ethnic Macedonian. The city also has sizeable minorities of Roma (Gypsies), Vlachs (Aromanians), and Turks.
- 1 Bus Station (Автобуска станица Штип), Partizanska (Партизанска) St (near the City Stadium). The inter-city services are provided by the public transportation company "Balkan Ekspres" (Macedonian: Балкан Експрес) which has connections from all cities in North Macedonia and from some neighboring countries.
By car from the north (Skopje), the main regional road circumvents Štip, but any of the several clearly marked exits will take you downtown. From the south: the main Strumica-Štip road enters through the Bregalnica canyon in the south and goes directly to downtown. There are many local roads entering from the east and west.
The train station in Štip is no longer used for commercial rail journeys, but only for freight trains.
By sport airplane: Štip is served by the largest sport airport in Eastern North Macedonia, accommodating single and twin-engine aircraft. The third international airport in North Macedonia, to be built in Štip, is still in the initial stages (the first phase is planned to be for cargo only).
The best ways to get around are by foot or by taxi, though there is a municipal bus fleet which connects the center with the outlying of Babi, Senjak, Prebeg, Makedonka, Kezhovica, etc.
Štip offers a variety of sights to see including fortress ruins, medieval churches, Ottoman monuments, Jewish sites, and museums plus more in the immediate surrounding area.
- 1 Štip Museum (Завод и музеј), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Sa: 8:00-16:00. Founded in 1950 in the center of the city. It features exhibits on the archaeology, art, ethnology, and history of Štip. In particular, it houses over 1,000 archaeological pieces. The museum is found in the Arsovi House, a historic estate with traditional architecture. The building sits on open park space filled with various statues. The museum also maintains exhibits in the Bezisten and the Church of the Dormition.
- 2 Church of Saint Michael the Archangel (Црква „Свети Архангел Михаил Главатов“), 4-ta Makedonska brigada Street. One of the most valuable medieval monuments of Štip, this church was built in 1332 by Serbian nobleman Hrelja. It lost its frescoes during the Ottoman era when it was converted into a mosque. The church is cross-shaped and capped by a single dome. In 2000, it received a new marble iconostasis.
- 3 Isar Fortress (Исар; Štip Fortress). Above the confluence of the Bregalnica and Otinja rivers, these fortress ruins overlook Štip and its surroundings from a strategic point. The original date of its construction in unknown, though today's ruins likey date from the Serbian Empire. Varying amounts of walls and foundations survive today. A cross was erected among the ruins and it is illuminated at night. Several churches were built on the slopes below the fortress. This includes the churches of Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Nicholas, and Saint John the Bapist, among a couple of others.
- 4 Husa Medin Pasha Mosque (Џамија Хусамедин Паша). Built on the foundation of a church called Saint Elijah (Црква Свети Пророк Илија), this Ottoman mosque was built sometime in the 16th century and named after a local Turkish pasha who donated the funds for its construction. His grave is located right beside the mosque. The mosque is on a hill on the south side of town. It is capped by one large dome and features a portico topped by three smaller domes. The building has been in poor condition since the 1950s.
- 5 Church of Saint Nicholas (Црква „Св. Никола“), Marshall Tito (Кеј Маршал Тито) Street. Built on the ruins of a 1341-built church, Saint Nicholas is the cathedral church of the Bregalnica Diocese of the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Consecrated in 1867, this dominant three-nave basilica is surrounded by porches on three sides. Its interior contains frescoes, vaulted arches, and woodwork. It contains a gallery of icons managed by the Museum of Štip.
- 6 Bezisten (Безистен), Marshall Tito (Кеј Маршал Тито) St, 2. The historic covered Ottoman market is in the center of the city on the right bank of the Otinja. It was built of stone in the 16th or 17th century. It was destroyed by a fire during the Austro-Turkish war and rebuilt. Today, it is used as an art gallery.
- 7 Emir Küçük Bridge (Емир Ќучук Султанов мост). This historic stone bridge has spanned the Bregalnica River since 1672. During World War I, this bridge crossed a line between Serbian-controlled territory and Bulgarian-controlled territory.
- 8 Memorial of the Deported Jews (Споменикот на депортираните Евреи). In a park on the Otinja River in the center of town is a memorial to the 551 Jews of Štip that were deported to their deaths in Treblinka by the occupying Bulgarian fascists on 11 March 1943. The monument was completed in 1985 next to the city museum.
- 9 Memorial Complex of the Fallen Soldiers of the Revolution (Меморијален комплекс на паднатите борци на револуцијата). On the Isar hill above the city is this monument to the partisans who perished in the National Liberation War of Macedonia. It consists of several separate elaborately carved blocks standing alongside each other. The site was built from 1969 to 1973. Inscribed here are 814 names of fallen soldiers from Štip and its surroundings.
- 10 Clock Tower (Саат-кула). This tower was built in 1650 as a guard tower. It was later adapted into a clock tower. Also known as Bey's Tower, it stands among mainly houses. The tower features a tall spire.
- 11 Church of Saint John the Baptist (Црква „Свети Јован Крстител“) (on high boulders above the east bank of the Otinja River). Built in the year 1350, this small church is decorated with fresco paintings bequeathed by an unknown landowner named Ivanko. Due to damages to the church’s roof, the main frescoes have suffered damage.
- 12 Church of the Holy Savior (Црква „Свети Спас“) (on the south bank of the Otinja River). This small church was built in 1369 by a vojvoda named Dimitar. From the original frescoes, only certain parts representing old prophets, several saints of the synod church, and the beautiful compositions of Transfiguration and the Holy Indivisible Trinity remain. Its second phase of frescoes were painted in 1601.
- 13 Church of Saint Michael the Archangel - Glavatov (Црква „Свети Архангел Михаил Главатов“). Not to be confused with the larger and better known Saint Michael church, this small church dates from 1389. Fragments of its original frescoes survive in the apse, while its icons date from the 19th century.
- 14 Jewish cemetery (Еврејски гробишта). These graves are the only remnant of Štip's Jewish community. It is on the southwest side of the city. Over 80 graves are preserved here. They are mostly inscribed in Hebrew, with some in Cyrillic. The site fell into ruin over the years until restoration efforts in 2016.
Novo Selo is a historic former village that is nowadays considered a neighborhood of Štip. It sits at the confluence of the Bregalnica and Otinja rivers, just below the Isar fortress on the west side of the city. The rivers carve into the landscape, forming sharp hills around this neighborhood.
- 15 Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (Црква „Успение на Пресвета Богородица“), Vasil Glavinov St. This large, three-aisle basilica, with beautiful icons and frescoes, is the main church of Novo Selo. It was built from 1836 to 1850 by Andrej Damjanov. The impressive wood-carved iconostasis and furnishings are the works of his brother, Nikola Damjanov. This church used to be the largest church in the country until the Saint Clement of Ohrid church was built in Skopje in the 1970s. It is also home to an icon gallery and art objects.
- 16 Museum of VMRO from Štip (Музеј на дејците на ВМРО од Штип и Штипско), Corner of Krste Misirikov & R1207. This museum was established in 2014 in a historic house with traditional architecture once belonging to the Andonov family. It exhibits documents, weapons, and other artifacts from the period of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, from 1893 to 1934, with a focus on Štip's role in the rebellious organization.
- 17 Novo Selo School (Новоселско училиште). Right next to the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary is this 19th century school where revolutionary hero Goce Delčev taught for three years. Today, it is used by Štip's main university, Goce Delčev University. One side of the building features a mural memorializing Delčev.
The villages around Štip range from populous suburbs of the city to isolated and depopulated old villages. Several villages are completely abandoned; these are primarily ones inhabited by a significant Turkish population that has all but left the Štip area since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Štip also has a relatively high, but declining, population of Vlachs (Aromanians) in its vicinity.
- 18 Bargala (Баргала), village of Kozjak. On the lower slopes of Plačkovica Mountain is the Byzantine town of Bargala. It was constructed between the 4th and 6th centuries AD. Following archaeological excavations, a basilica, trade quarters, a water tank, a bath, a fortification system with an impressive main gate, and other infrastructure are visible today at the site. Findings have included gold coins and Slavic pottery from the 6th and 7th centuries.
- 19 Church of Saint George (Црква „Св. Ѓорѓи“), village of Kozjak. Dating from the 9th or 10th century, this church is among the oldest existing in North Macedonia preserved in its entirety. It is built of limestone in a cross-shape. It features one large dome and a smaller one. The interior contains frescoes, done in three phases with the latest occurring in the 14th century.
- 20 Church of Saint Nicholas (Црква „Св. Никола“), village of Krupište. Built on the grounds of an older basilica, this church was built in 1625 and had its frescoes painted in 1627. The church is a small, single-aisled one built primarily of stone.
- 1 Kežovica Spa (Кежовица Бања), Novo Selo. The temperature of the thermal mineral waters in the spa-resort reaches 62°C and the radioactivity reaches 42.82 moch units. The water is characteristic for its very favorable chemical composition: it contains sodium chloride, sodium sulfate, and sodium oxide. The spa-water is believed to be curative of rheumatism, ankle and nervous system issues, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and more.The unit for physiotherapy, included in the spa-resort, uses the most modern devices and treatment methods and possesses 110 beds. The main spa-resort possesses 40 beds while in the vicinity there is also Hotel Astibo with 130 beds.
- 2 City Park Suitlak (Градскиот парк Суитлак), Todor Kolarov St (in the upper part of the city, on the left side of Otinja). is a beautifully maintained hilly park with well maintained trails and benches.
- 3 Lake Mantovo (езерото Мантово) (about 25 km south (last 5 km are unpaved roads)). This is an artificial lake with deep blue waters. Popular place for fishing and recreation in the summer.
- 4 River Bregalnica. - the second largest river in North Macedonia, joining Vardar river after Štip. Roads follow the entire flow of Bregalnica around Štip and this is a very scenic drive.
- MakFest, the largest festival of pop music in North Macedonia
- Štip Summer of Culture (Macedonian: Штипско Културно Лето), which is a month long festival held from 1 July to 1 August
- 1 Shopping Mall Senjak (Trgovski), Sremski Front St. Several shops under the main shopping mall in downtown, offer Macedonia-themed souvenirs. Štip is famous for producing high-quality textiles and clothing, especially for high-class Italian firms. You can get some of these items at bargain prices directly from the local manufacturers.
- 2 Large flea market (Градски пазар) (off of Sutjeska St 55). held every Friday. The main farmers market. Regional growers and artisans bring theirs goods and attract a regional group of shopper, including women in traditional costumes.
Štip is known throughout North Macedonia for the local dish called Pastrmajlija. It is a pizza-like crust, in a long canoe shape topped with chicken or pork meat, eaten with hot pepper or pepper flakes on top. It is available at nearly every restaurant in Štip, and at the annual Pastremajlija festival in late September.
There are many great restaurants that serve traditional Macedonian food, as well as many Pizza-restaurants (Italian style, as opposed to American Pizza-parlors). Every restaurant is famous for some specific dish, so try to order that one in particular.
There are dozens upon dozens of bistros/bars aka kafani all over the city, on every corner. They serve all types of alcohol at a cheap price and food with it as well. Drinking coffee is a social event which often lasts for hours, with very little coffee or alcohol actually consumed. It is not considered rude to sit a table and order very little for several hours, as it would be in many western cities.
As with the rest of North Macedonia, being intoxicated in public is frowned upon.
There are several large disco-techs, including Mystic, Angels, and Ice, which play pop and dance music. Jazz Art Club is the local rock club featuring live bands all year round.
All hotels could probably be classified as 3 stars, though there is no official rating system. Oaza and Garni are right in the center, while Izgrev is about 10 minute drive from the center (or 30 min walk). Garni is a boutique hotel with few rooms, but held to high standards.
- 1 Hotel Oaza (Хотел Оаза), Marshall Tito (Кеј Маршал Тито) St, ☏ .
- Garni (Гарни), ☏ .
- 2 Izgrev (Изгрев), Veljko Vlahovich (Вељко Влахович) St, ~1, ☏ .
Štip is probably one of the safest cities in North Macedonia, and definitely much safer than all the major cities in the western and central part. Violent crime and murders are almost non-existent, and property crimes are very rare. Foreigners are welcomed and looked upon as a curiosity as Štip is not advertised or developed as a tourist destination, despite having a lot to offer.
There are several night clubs in Štip, and they are all much safer than any western counterpart (no metal detectors anywhere). Keeping a low profile is recommended as not to tempt the local macho mentality. Aggressive courting of girls is not recommended as this can be seen as encroachment and cause physical conflict.
The Roma (Gypsy) population of Štip is mostly living far bellow the overall poverty level, and although their shanty towns (spread around several areas of the city, mostly in the north) are very picturesque and exotic for the tourist to behold, avoid giving them gifts or money, as that will make you a target for more panhandling and possibly a (non-violent) property crime. Do not be fooled by the looks of the Roma children beggars, for most of them that is their full-time job, and no one is dying of hunger or cold in Štip.
The police is sometimes helpful if approached politely, but beware that the socialist heritage where the police was very brutal and was mostly used to keep an eye on the population, instead of maintaining law and order, is still very much alive. Ask a younger person for directions, as most youngster speak passable English, and only deal with the police when you have to, taking good care not to offend them in any way.
As pretty much anywhere else, do not accept offers from strangers; do not enter in business deals with unknown people, even if the offer is most tempting; do not go to secluded or dark places at night or abandoned places during the day, and exercise good judgement that you would in other poor countries like Mexico or Central America.
Do not be alarmed if glasses are shattered by being slammed on the ground as this is a cultural thing, especially when one male individual is intoxicated and there is live music. This practice is quite common for males of all ages, and is the same in all the surrounding countries like Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania.
Don't carry too much cash on you and do not flash/show it (there is no need, there are plenty of 24/7 ATMs around the city). Try to dress like the locals. Too much differentiation might attract unwanted attention, which, while usually harmless, can be very annoying at the end. Lock your valuable in the hotel safe or hide them well. Keep your electronics and cameras in bags for most of the time while taking picture/videos around.
At the end, exercise a common sense that you would exercise in rural Alabama or West Virginia, for example, and you will be fine and have a great time!
- 2 Post Office (Пошта), Engelsova St.