Macedonia is a country in the central Balkan peninsula of southeastern Europe. This small landlocked nation, which is bordered by Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Albania, is becoming increasingly popular for tourists, and for good reason. Macedonia travel benefits from interesting topography and geological sights—the country has more than 50 lakes and sixteen mountains that tower over above 6,560 feet high. Visitors on trips to Macedonia will also be impressed by the variety of historical and cultural attractions, including Byzantine and medieval fortresses and castles, Ottoman relics, and ancient mosques.
Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, is the largest city located in the north along the Vardar River. With more than 500,000 inhabitants, Skopje is home to about a quarter of the country's population. The political, cultural, and economic center of the country, Skopje is one of the highlights of many trips to Macedonia because of its many historical attractions. Among the foremost of these attractions is Scupi, an archaeological site outside the city consisting of an ancient Roman colony dating from the first century. The Romans had conquered Macedonia and occupied the site of Scupi until the sixth century. Today, the remains of the Roman baths, an early Christian basilica, a civil basilica, and some townhouses along the road are still visible to travelers.
Another major attraction in Skopje is the Skopje aqueduct. It is still being debated whether the 55 stone arches were built by the Romans or were constructed in the sixteenth century by the Turks, but regardless of its origin the aqueduct is still an impressive feat of engineering and an amazing sight. Skopje is also home to the Old Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest bazaars in the Balkans and certainly the largest in Macedonia. This ancient market has been the center of the city since the twelfth century, and its location may have been inhabited since 4000 BC. Many old Turkish buildings are evident, as are some old churches.
The most popular tourist destination for trips to Macedonia is the town of Ohrid, located on the shore of Lake Ohrid in the southwestern part of the country. Those who add this town to their Macedonia travel itineraries will be charmed by the host of ancient buildings. The town once held 365 churches, one for every day of the year, and was known as Macedonia's Jerusalem. One of the most important old churches is the Church of St. Sophia, a large basilica built in the eleventh century. Visitors to Ohrid will also have access to beautiful natural beaches set in some of the most breathtaking scenery in Macedonia, with cliffs, forested hills, and mountains surrounding the lake. Samuil's Fortress is one of the main attractions of this UNESCO World Heritage Site—the medieval fortress was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire during the Middle Ages. Admission is free, and you can get great views of Lake Ohrid from its ancient walls.
There are many other places of archaeological interest throughout the country. Some highlights of Macedonia travel include the several national parks, including Mavrovo National Park, which has stunning lake views and several gorges, rivers, waterfalls, and caves. The ruins at Stobi are considered to be among the top archaeological attractions of the country. This ancient town, inhabited since Neolithic times, was overrun by the Romans and some of the ancient buildings still remain. Another interesting site is Kokino, an ancient megalithic observatory similar to Stonehenge in England. Macedonia offers a unique combination of natural beauty and historical sites, and visitors are sure to find a trip to this lovely country is an unforgettable experience.