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Europe > Balkans > North Macedonia > Eastern North Macedonia > Strumica

Strumica

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Strumica is the second-largest city in Eastern North Macedonia with 37,000 residents (2016). It is the seat of Strumica Municipality which has a population of about 57,000 (2018). It is the vegetable capital of North Macedonia.

Understand[edit]

History[edit]

In 1014, Strumica was the site of an important battle between Tsar Samuel's Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire. The Bulgarians achieved victory; in order to break their spirit, Byzantine Emperor Basil II blinded the 14,000 Bulgarian soldiers captured at the previous Battle of Kleidion and sent them to Samuel.

The Strumica-area village of Kosturino was the site of an important battle of World War I in December 1915. This was a decisive victory for Bulgaria and the Central Powers, ultimately enabling them to build a Berlin to Constantinople rail line.

Get in[edit]

  • 1 Intercity Bus Station (Струмица Међуградски Аутобуска станица), Bratstvo Edinstvo St (East of M4 Hwy).

Get around[edit]

See[edit]

Remains of the north tower at Tsar's Towers
Hotel Srpski Kral

The Strumica area is full of things to see.

  • 1 Goce Delčev Square (Плоштад Гоце Делчев). Strumica's central square lies above Maršal Tito Boulevard, just west of Leninova Boulevard. It was built in 1970, and was completely redesigned in 2010. The mostly concrete square now contains fountains, a modern clock tower, and shrubbery. Its centerpiece remains a large statue of revolutionary Goce Delčev, erected in 1973. Among the other monuments is the statue Strumica Under the Mask, commemorating the historic Strumica Carnival. The Anton Panov National Theatre fronts the square. Goce Delčev Square on Wikipedia
  • 2 Tsar's Towers (Strumica Fortress; Цареви кули; Струмичко Кале). Strumica's fortress dates from the 11th century. It sits just west of town, overlooking the city from its elevated position. It was used under the Byzantine, Bulgarian, and Serbian empires. It then fell under Ottoman rule and by the 17th century it was completely abandoned. The site, however, was used again during the Balkan Wars and the World Wars. A restoration effort of the fortress began in 2014. Strumica Fortress (Q7625334) on Wikidata Strumica Fortress on Wikipedia
  • 3 Orta Mosque (Орта џамија). This building was built as a church during the Byzatine period, presumably in the 11th or 12th centuries. Some remnants of frescoes can be found in the foundations of the structure. Following the arrival of the Ottomans, the church was converted to a mosque. The square-based mosque has one minaret. Today, the building serves as a museum and within the complex are archaeological excavations.
  • 4 Strumica City Hall (Собрание на Општина Струмица). This building and several of the ones surrounding it were built in the late 1920s in the neoclassical style. The city hall has a prominent balcony over its main entrance. It is located at the intersection of Sando Masev and Gjorče Petrov streets.
  • 5 Old Turkish Post Office (Стара турска пошта). Located across the street from the Orta Mosque is this 19th-century building which served as a post office during Ottoman rule. The building is a good example of traditional Ottoman architecture. It was a private residence until 2005 when it was converted into a museum.
  • 6 Macedonia Monument (Споменик Македонија). This monument was erected in 2005 in commemoration of Strumica-native President Boris Trajkovski, who had been killed the previous year in a helicopter crash. The monument, within the City Park, consists of the image of the president and a woman holding a cross.
  • 7 Strumica Museum (Струмички музеј). Established in 1952, the Strumica Museum showcases some of the history, ethnology, and archaeology of the area, including pieces from many of the significant sites listed in this travel guide. It is in a neoclassical building built in 1931, which it shares with the State Archives.
  • 8 Hotel Srpski Kral (Хотел „Српски крал“). Opposite city hall is this historic building, also in the neoclassical style. Built in the 1920s, it functioned at Strumica's first brothel. For the next couple decades it remained a place frequented by the elite. During communism, the building was nationalized and served different purposes before falling into neglect after the 1980s. ProCredit Bank bought and renovated the building in 2010.
  • 9 Kosturnica Memorial (Спомен-костурница). Built atop a hill in 1979, this communist-era monument memorializes many of Strumica's fallen in the National Liberation War. In 1982, remains of many soldiers were placed in the sarcophagus of the memorial. The complex is made of white marble and sits in not-so-great condition, with graffiti painted in various areas.

Churches[edit]

Ruins of the original Church of Saint Fifteen Tiveriopoulos Martyrs
  • 10 Church of Saint Fifteen Tiveriopoulos Martyrs (Црква „Св. Петнаесет тивериополски маченици“). This complex of churches contains ruins from the original church dating from the 4th and 9th centuries, and from the present-day church built in 1972. The church complex is dedicated to the group of martyrs killed in Strumica (Tiveriopoulos) in the 4th century for not adhering to the pagan beliefs during the early Byzantine Empire. The group is considered the patron saints of Strumica and December 11, considered the day of their execution, is observed throughout the city.
  • 11 Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Катедрална црква „Успение на Пресвета Богородица“). This is the cathedral church of the Macedonian Byzantine-Catholic Church, which is in full communion with the Holy See. Construction began on the church in 1925 and it was consecrated in 1931. It is a red-brick church with a taller central tower. Cathedral of Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary (Q12907017) on Wikidata Cathedral of Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary (Strumica) on Wikipedia
  • 12 Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius (Црква „Св. Кирил и Методиј“). This church has an architectural style not commonly found in North Macedonia - it has a tall Russian/Gothic appearance and the funding of its construction in 1905 was provided by Russian missionaries on Mount Athos. The paintings on the iconostasis were completed in 1935. The church has a bell tower on the west side.

Neighboring villages[edit]

The Church of the Holy Mother of God at Veljusa Monastery
Inside the ruins of the ancient Roman Bansko Baths

Several important sites lies outside the city limits of Strumica but within the larger Strumica Municipality.

  • 13 Veljusa Monastery (Вељушки манастир) (village of Veljusa, 7 km west of Strumica). Among the most important monasteries in North Macedonia is the Veljusa Monastery, built in 1080. Dedicated to the Holy Mother of God, it remains in very good condition inside and out. Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos visited the monastery several years after its construction and expressed a strong admiration for it. The church is cross-shaped with three multi-sided domes, including two above the church and one above the exonarthex. Its important frescoes were primarily painted in 1085, though the porch painting was done in 1164 and most of the nave was done in the 19th century. A cross in red brick on the southern wall of the church is an important symbol of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.
  • 14 Vodoča Monastery (Водочки манастир) (village of Vodoča, 4 km west of Strumica). This monastery, the seat of the Strumica Diocese, consists of the main church dedicated to St Leontius as well as archaeological remains of early Christian basilicas. The earliest remains date from the 5th century and are visible around the complex. The Church of St Leontius, dedicated to the martyr from Tripoli, contains two prominent domes. The church was built in the 12th century but has had multiple revisions over time since its original construction.
  • 15 Bansko Baths (Бања Банско) (village of Bansko, 12 km east of Strumica). A thermo-mineral healing spa from Late Antiquity. Located at the foot of Belasica Mountain, it was uncovered in 1978 when digging began for the construction of the Tsar Samuel Hotel. The archaeological site covers an area of 1,000 m² (10,764 ft²). The preserved walls range in height from 2 to 6.7 m (6.6 to 22 ft). There are a total of five thermo-mineral springs. The temperature of the water in the springs remains consistent throughout the year, ranging amongst the sources from 47 to 72 degrees. These waters have long been considered to have healing effects. During Ottoman rule, there were four hamams (Turkish baths) in Bansko, some ruins of which remain standing, due to the mineral springs and the waters still draw visitors to the present day.
  • 16 Strumin Tomb (Струмин гроб) (village of Banica, 3 km west of Strumica). This ancient or medieval tomb is made of limestone. The ruin sits 2.3 m (7.5 ft) tall and 4 m (13 ft) long in a pretty random spot near Strumica where it was uncovered in 1983. There are multiple theories as to who was buried in the tomb, including the sister of King Marko or a relative of Alexander the Great.
  • 17 Gabrovo Waterfalls (Габровски водопади) (village of Gabrovo, 18 km east of Strumica). Above the village of Gabrovo on Belasica Mountain is a group of three small waterfalls located a kilometer apart. The falls range in height from 4 to 8 m (13 to 26 ft). The lowest waterfall is beside the parking lot above the village. The biggest one is the highest of the three up the mountain. A trail leads from the parking lot to the biggest waterfall. The Gabrovo Waterfalls are near the better known Smolare and Kolešino waterfalls in Novo Selo Municipality. The village of Gabrovo is also home to the 1874-built Church of St Elijah.
  • 18 Old hamam and mosque of Banica (Стар амам и џамија во Баница) (village of Banica, 4 km west of Strumica). Banica once had a mixed population of Orthodox Macedonians and Muslim Turks. The latter community has disappeared from the village since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Two major remnants of this community include its old mosque and the Mehmed Aga Hamam. The mosque, built in the 16th century, stands in rough shape with one minaret. The hamam is in ruins. It was built in the 17th century.

Vasilevo Municipality lies just north of Strumica. It is notable, especially as a rural municipality, for growing its population from the 1990s to the 2000s. It also has a significant Catholic minority, and a Turkish minority that was once larger prior to the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

  • 19 Angelci monastery complex (Манастирски комплекс (Ангелци)), village of Angelci. An interesting complex of nine churches, established in 1991 by a villager who was inspired by a dream to build the churches. It is visited by people from around Strumica but it is not actually recognized by the Macedonian Orthodox Church.
  • 20 Church of Saint Petka (Црква „Св. Петка“), village of Trebičino. The most significant church in Vasilevo Municipality, built in 1875. It contains historic frescoes.
  • 21 Church of the Assumption (Црква „Успение на Пресвета Богородица“), village of Vasilevo. The main church of the municipal center of Vasilevo, built in 1840. It was built of stone and features a porch covering three of its sides.

Do[edit]

  • Aside from hiking the nearby Mt. Belasica. Here are the waterfalls of Smolare (Смоларски водопад), 650 m a.s.l., 35 m high; and Kolesino (Колешински водопад), 630 m a.s.l, 20 m high, at the river Baba
  • 1 Culture House (Дом на Културата), Mosa Pijade (Моша Пијаде) St. Events, exhibits.
  • 2 Strumica Park, 11th October (11-ти Октомври) St. Strolling, relaxing
  • 3 Cinema Balkan.
  • 4 Vodoča Lake (Водочко езеро). This artificial lake lies at the confluence of the Vodoča and Trkajana rivers. It covers an area of nearly 2 km² (1.2 mi²) with a maximum depth of 42 m (137 ft). The lake is a recreational place for the Strumica area.

Sport[edit]

  • 5 Mladost Stadium (Стадион Младост; Blagoj Isatov Stadium). The city's main stadium has a capacity of about 8,000. It is the home ground of FK Belasica and FK Tiverija, but it sometimes hosts matches of the Macedonia National Football Team. Stadion Blagoj Istatov on Wikipedia
  • 6 Park Sports Hall (Спортска сала Парк). Opened in 1981, the sports hall seats 2,300. It is home to three basketball clubs, one handball club, and one ping-pong club.
  • Pandev Sports Center (Спортски центар „Пандев“). One of Macedonia's greatest soccer stars, Goran Pandev, opened this sports center in 2014 in his hometown of Strumica.

Events[edit]

There is a centuries-old tradition and takes place every year in the period of the Christian festival Trimeri, during Lent. The word “carnival” originates from the Latin words: carne – meat and vale – farewell . The carnival represents a vestige of an ancient cult from the pagan time and indicates the glorification of fertility and purification from the spectral energies of the daily routine. In 1670 the Turkish travel-author Evlija Chelebija, while staying in Strumica, wrote: “I came into a town located in the foothills of a high hillock and what I saw that night was masked people running house–to–house, with laughter, scream and song“.

Buy[edit]

  • 1 Global Shopping Centre (Глобал). A large, modern shopping center opened in 2008. The building sticks out easily at the northeast corner of Leninova and Tito boulevards (opposite Goce Delčev Square) with its almost entirely reflective glass facade. Its construction brought Strumica its first parking garage.
  • 2 Jugopromet Shopping Center (Трговски Центар Југопромет), Blagoj Jankov Mucheto St (Center).

Eat[edit]

Drink[edit]

Grozd makes a popular mastika

If you come in Strumica you must try the alcoholic drink Strumica Mastika a traditional drink with anise. Strumica-based Grozd is perhaps the best-known distiller of the drink. The company is also known for its nonalcoholic carbonated drinks like Strumka.

Strumica is famous for its night life. It has some of the best night clubs in the country on Lebljebedzijska Street near the town square.

  • City Cafe in Global Shopping Center
  • Inside cafe in Global Shopping Center
  • Moment cafe in Global Shopping Center
  • Select Cafe
  • Maf-Maf
  • Cafe bar 19
  • Extreme Cafe
  • Platinum.

Sleep[edit]

  • 1 Hotel Gligorov, Kliment Ohridski St, +389 34 344600.
  • Hotel Car Samuil, village of Bansko, +389 34 777193. Relax at the natural healing waters of Bansko.
  • Hotel Sirius (1.5 km from the city center), +389 34 345335, fax: +389 34 345143, . Hotel four-star spa & wellness, 7 apartments, 45 deluxe rooms, 56 double rooms, 5 triple rooms. Double half board+spa €75.
  • Hotel Tiveriopol - www.tiveriopol.com.mk +389 34 340421; +389 34 340422
  • 2 Hotel Central (Opp. City Hall).
  • 3 Familija Kostadinovi/ Selski Turizam, Village Gabrovo, +389 70 310 467, .
  • 4 Hotel Dukat, village of Bansko, +389 34 37 166.
  • 5 Kompleks Carevi Kuli, village of Chiflik, +389 75 499 188, . Free wifi, TV, private parking, private bathroom, restaurant, bar, garden

Connect[edit]

  • 2 Cyber Caffe Input, Marshal Tito (Маршал Тито) St, 20? (Center), . Internet available

Go next[edit]

  • Novo Selo - home to North Macedonia's two best-known waterfalls, just southeast of Strumica
  • Bosilovo - home to North Macedonia's only swamp, just east of Strumica
  • Veles - NW 60 km
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