Makedonski Brod is a town in Western North Macedonia, on the south-eastern part of Suva Gora, western Karadžica, and south-western Dautica mountains. The Makedonski Brod Municipality, which consists of the town and 50 surrounding villages, contains the historical region of Poreče which is tied to the Treska River. This region has countless old villages with traditional Macedonian architecture. Aside from this, it is known for its several important caves.
Makedonski Brod and the larger Poreče region is situated in the west of Macedonia, south of Skopje. It can be reached from highway A-2 by taking R1303 east, from Prilep by taking that same road west, and from Skopje by taking R1106.
Poreče is a relatively large region with villages scattered around it. Therefore, a car or bicycle will be needed to get from place to place.
- 1 Pešna (Пешна), village of Devič. Just six kilometers (3.6 miles) from Makedonski Brod is the cave Pešna which features the largest cave opening in the Balkans. It is 124 m (407 ft) deep. The New York Times has compared the cave to something out of The Lord of the Rings. There are streams nearby including the mini-waterfall of Pešnica, as well as archaeological remains including Devini Towers (listed below). A church has been constructed near the cave.
- 2 Zmejovica (Змејовица), village of Krapa. Above the village of Krapa on Dautica Mountain is this hard-to-find cave. It can be reached by a 40-minute hike from the village, though the path isn't marked well and the opening to the cave is a hole in the ground amongst a grassy field. Nonetheless, the cave is 68 m (223 ft) in length and has a main hall 15 m (49 ft) tall and a smaller one 3 m (10 ft) tall. There are multiple local legends connected to Zmejovica.
- 3 Slatinski Izvor (Слатински Извор), village of Slatina. Macedonia's biggest cave, extending over 4 km (2.4 mi) in length. Of this estimated length, only about 800 m has been explored. The cave has a subterranean river. It was added to the country's tentative list of World Heritage Sites in 2004.
- Puralo (Пурало), village of Slatina. This cave has a narrow opening surrounded by trees and other greenery that often mask the opening. Puralo is a river cave with a complex branching of canals.
- 4 Golubarnica (Голубарница), village of Belica. This cave contains the source of the Belica River, the Treska's largest tributary, just east of the village. It is 100 meters long and is home to a population of bats. There is also evidence of human history in the cave, exemplified by a human skull that remains in the cave.
- Laparnica (Лапарница), village of Belica. This cave extends over 88 meters long and is home to a year-round population of bats. The cave features stalactites, stalagmites, and small pools of water.
Churches and monasteries
The Makedonski Brod area is home to one significant monastery and several historic churches.
- 5 Poreče Monastery (Поречки манастир), village of Gorni Manastirec. Established in the 12 century, this monastery was destroyed at some point following the start of Ottoman rule. A local effort led to the re-establishment of the monastery in 1846 and it soon became a cultural and educational hub for this region. It contains one church dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, built in 1899. Built of stone, the church's frescoes were done with egg yolk. The monastery has a high location on a mountainside, overlooking the surroundings.
- 6 Church of Saint Demetrius (Црква „Св. Димитриј“), village of Trebino. The main church of Trebino, Saint Demetrius was built in 1664. Its frescoes were also completed around this time and are of high quality. The courtyard contains the village cemetery.
- 7 Church of Saint Athanasius the Great (Црква „Св. Атанасиј Велики“), village of Modrište. Among the older churches of the region, this one was built of stone in 1728 and is a monastery church. Its frescoes date from the time of its construction. A church has existed at this site since the 13th century.
- 8 Church of the Holy Mother of God (Црква „Св. Богородица“), town of Makedonski Brod. The main church of the municipal centre of Makedonski Brod. Built in 1872, its iconostasis was done in 1885 by an artist from Kruševo.
- 9 Church of Saint Pantaleon (Црква „Св. Пантелејмон“), village of Belica. The main church of Belica was built in 1873 of stone. It has a belfry attached at the front entrance and a cross atop the roof, as well as the village cemetery in its courtyard. The nearby Church of Saint Nicholas is small but older, built in the 16th century.
- 10 Church of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary (Црква „Воведение на Пресвета Богородица“), village of Zdunje. This small church was built in the 17th century, though its frescoes weren't completed until 1922. It sits on a hill above Lake Kozjak and its courtyard contains the village cemetery.
- 11 Church of Saint Nicholas (Црква „Св. Никола“), village of Sušica. Built in 1890 in this mountainside village, the Church of Saint Nicholas is a charming stone-built church with a prominent detached bell tower.
- 12 Church of Saints Constantine and Elena (Црква „Св. Константин и Елена“), village of Tomino Selo. This 19th century church built of stone has a courtyard that looks out onto valleys below.
- 13 Church of Saint Athanasius (Црква „Св. Атанасиј“), village of Topolnica. The Church of Saint Athanasius was built in 1872 and is mostly ordinary in design aside from its unique bell tower situated on its front facade. Built of dark stone, the tower is capped by a dome and a cross.
- 14 Devini Towers (Девини Кули), village of Devič. Within the in the vicinity of the cave Pešna on a hill above the Treska River are remnants of a medieval fortress which were, according to legend, built for Deva and Pešna, two of the four sisters of King Marko.
- 15 Kosturnica Monument (Спомен-костурница), village of Gorni Manastirec. On the road toward the Poreče Monastery is this monument to the 103 victims killed by Bulgarian forces on Christmas eve, 1916. The monument is a small building topped by a dome with a cross.
- 1 Lake Kozjak (Козјак). Macedonia's largest artificial lake. Several villages including Blizansko, Breznica, and Zdunje are situated on the lake and have weekend homes on their shores.
Makedonski Brod has a unique Easter tradition that involves local men forming human towers by standing on top of one another. The tradition dates back to Ottoman times as an act of defiance and pride in the Christian faith of the locals, as opposed to the ruling Muslim Turks. The tower structure involves some symbolism of Jesus Christ and Christianity.
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