Mariovo is a region in the Southern part of Macedonia (area of 1390 square km., elevation 1050 m.),situated between the mountains Selechka (highest peak - Visoka 1471 m.) on the west, Nidze (highest peak - Kajmakchalan 2520 m.) and Kozhuf (highest peak - Zelenbeg 2171 m.)on the south ,Kozjak (highest peak - Baltova Chuka 1822 m.)on the east and Dren (highest peak - Studenica 1663 m.)on the north. The river Crna flows across the whole area of Mariovo, creating the largest canyon in Macedonia which is around 100km long.
The region is divided into 3 sub-regions, Bitolsko Mariovo (with its center Staravina), Prilepsko Mariovo (with its center Vitoliste) and Tikvesko Mariovo (consisted of the western parts of the former municipality Konopishte with the villages of Rozden, Majdan, Rzhanovo and Klinovo).
Nowadays, administratively it is divided among three municipalities: Prilep, Novaci and Kavadarci.
The river Crna also divides the region into two sub-regions, Small Mariovo (Malo Mariovo) on the left side of the river, and Old (Large) Mariovo (Staro Mariovo) on the right side of the river.
The specific position and natural condition of this geomorphological entity have contributed towards creation of a distinct local climate which differs from the other parts of the country. The mountains Dren and Selechka shield Mariovo from the continental northern winds. On the south-east the basin of the river Crna enables mediterranean influences from Aegean Sea, while in the area of Skochivir Ravine the moderate continental clime makes its way from the Pelagonian plains. The influence of three climate zones can be felt in this area.
Lots of people lived there in the past, but due to migration, nowadays there are less then 1000 people left, living in the 28 settlements: Vitolishta, Beshishta, Veprchani, Vrpsko, Dunye, Zhivovo, Kalen, Kokre, Krushevica, Manastir, Polchishte, Peshtani, Chanishte, Brnik, Budimirci, Gradeshnica, Grunishta, Zovich, Iveni, Makovo, Orle, Rapesh, Staravina, Rzhanovo, Rozhden, Galishte, Klinovo and Mayden.
The village Staravina was once the center of the municipality Staravina. It's located in the Southern part of Mariovo, 50km away from Bitola.
The trip starts in Bitola. From there you need to go to the village Novaci, past the power plant REK Bitola and then up the mountain to the village Makovo. From there the road takes you to the village Rapes. The asphalt road ends right after that village and from there it's a bumpy ride on a dirt road until you reach Staravina. You might need a permit to go there because the region is near the southern border of the country.
There is a mountain hut located in Staravina, near the church. It's owner is PD Medikus from Bitola. You can stay there for free, but if you want to you can leave a donation.
Gradeshnica and church of St. Demetrios (Sv. Dimitrija)
The villagе of Gradesnica is located down the slope toward the Gradeska River and its canyon, whose natural beauty enriches the view of the village when approached from that side. The church of St. Demetrios, a cultural monument from the 15-th century is located in this village, situated by the road at the very entrance. This church is somethimes mentioned as the church of St. Nicholas, but also known as St. Demetrios among the local
population. It is a small, single nave church coverd with a semi-cylindrical vault. The massive stone iconostasis separates the space towards the altar apse. The preserved frescos on the central part (naos) and on the iconostasis differ from those in the altar apse. According to their style, they belong to the 14-th century, while those in the altar apse indicate the style of the 15-th cenury.
You can reach Gradesnica from Staravina, there's an asphalt road leading there.
The site of Peshta dates from the time of ancient Macedonian Kings (4-th century BC) and is located between villages of Staravina and Gradeshnica. Standing in the center of Staravina, one can notice the outlines of a fortress on the horizon. There also used to be a town in the vicinty, which the villagers consider to be the birthplace of King Philip because historical dates claim that he descended from the mountains and built Pela. The closest mountain to the north-west of Pela is exactly this one in Mariovo.
The Chebren Monastery
To reach the monastery you first need to go to the village Zovik which can be reached from Staravina or just by following the dirt road from Rapes. Then from Zovik just head towards the river Crna and you will reach the monastery.
The Chebren Monastery with the Church of St. Demetrios (Sv. Dimitrija), together with the small church of Holy Saviour (Sv. Spas) located nearby, are centres of exceptional spiritual and archeological value. The Monastery belongs to the vilage of Zovic and is situated on the eastern bank of river Crna, where it mingles with the picturesque landscape of meadows, trees and rocks.
The church of St. Demetrios is a three-naval basilica with marble columns. Its iconostasis dates from 15-th century,but was renovated in the 19-th century. South-east from the monastery, on the hill which rises over the river is the small church of the Holy Saviour, probably built in the 14-th century. It is a single-naval stone church with wooden roof structure coverd with stone tiles (preserved only on the apse and eastern wall).The interior is completly fresco-painted and a great deal of the frescos can still be seen.
Alshar, an ancient mine located in the southern Balkans, in Macedonia, is said to contain minerals that are found nowhere else on the planet. The rarest of them all—the lorandite, a crystal of the thallium. The lorandite is thought to have the potential to unravel the so-called "neutrino puzzle." By serving as a geochemical detector of the neuron, the lorandite could validate or disprove the theory of the standard solar system. In simple terms—it would let us understand the work of the Sun. The Ottomans, who ruled the peninsula until the beginning of the 20th century, called it Majdan (the word for "mine" in Turkish). This was also the name given to the nearest village. They explored for gold. But they were not the first ones at the mine. According to some, the mine has existed for over 5,000 years. It has eight entrances, two of which lead through corridors that extend up to 6 kilometers and have cobblestone pathways, placed there by the Ottomans. The mine has been closed for decades. According to experts, many world scientists are very interested in exploring Alshar. The lorandite from the mine can register in a chemical and physical way the so-called neutrino flux coming from the Sun and it is the only known substance that has this power. If the neutrino could be explored, science could understand the processes that go on inside the Sun. Some say with awe that it could lead to an understanding of the past but also of the future of our galaxy. Despite all the mystery, the fact is undisputed that Alshar is the only known place on the planet that contains the lorandite, a mineral of potentially huge significance in physics. According to rough estimates, the mine could have reserves of up to 40 tons of lorandite. A few grams of lorandite for lab research is said to cost about 5-6 euros.
You can reach there from the village Konopiste.
Monastery St. George, Polog
This monastery is located in south-east Macedonia, near Kavadarci, on the border between Mariovo and Tikvesh. It can be reached only by boat across man-made Tikvesh Lake. One can start this unique experience from three places: by the dam near the village of Vozarci, from the village of Resava near Kamen Dol and from Kamenica near the village of Begnishte. It is now situated in an inaccessible area, but in the past the monastery rose high above the canyon of the river Crna, on the foothills of Visheshnica. Nowadays it is secluded by the lake and completely isolated. The church, as a lonely representative of it's time, honorably watches over the invaluable medieval art from the time of Czar Dushan. According to the latest research, the building of the monastery dates before 1340 A.D., and the frescoes were painted in 1343-1345. During its existence the monastery had been abandoned on several occasions, but it's activity never ceased completely. In the 16-th century it had an active monastic brotherhood and was a powerful spiritual center. The large gold-plated wooden cross was carved in this period (1584). At the beginning of 19-th century the lodgings on the eastern and on the southern side were built, the bell tower and several other buildings of practical character. Only the monastery church of St. George has survived within the walls of the monastery until today. Only fragments of the 17-th century iconostasis, the icon of St. George depicting his life, the wood-carved chandelier (17-th c.) and three wood carved double doors (17-th c.) is all that has remained from the wealth of the religious object with great artistic value which once adorned the interior of the church.