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Culture & People


Macedonia has a rich cultural heritage in art, architecture, poetry and music. It has many ancient, protected religious sites. Poetry, cinema and music festivals are held annually. Macedonian music styles developed under the strong influence of Byzantine church music. Macedonia has a significant number of preserved Byzantine fresco paintings, mainly from the period between the 11th and 16th centuries. There are several thousands square metres of fresco painting preserved, the major part of which is in very good condition and represent masterworks of the Macedonian School of ecclesiastical painting.

The most important cultural events in the country are the Ohrid Summer festival of classical music and drama, the Struga Poetry Evenings which gather poets from more than 50 countries in the world, International Camera Festival in Bitola, Open Youth Theatre and Skopje Jazz Festival in Skopje. The Macedonian Opera opend in 1947 with a performance of the Cavalleria Rusticana under the direction of Branko Pomorisac. Every year, the May Opera Evenings are held in Skopje for around 20 nights. The first May Opera performance was that of Kiril Makedonski's "Tsar Samuil" in May 1972.


The historical sites for archaeology of extraordinary quality include those at Stobi in Gradsko, Heraclea Lyncestis in Bitola, Lychnidos, the Church of St. Sophia in Ohrid, and Scupi in Skopje. Terracotta icons were discovered at Viničko Kale (near Vinica). The Basilica Mosaic in Heraklea Lynkestis is an early Byzantine mosaic. There are many remains from Roman times and the early Christian period in Vardar Macedonia, which was at the time part of the Bulgarian Empire.

Famous architects and fresco-painters worked on numerous churches in the Republic of Macedonia, and in Ohrid alone there are over 30 churches. UNESCO has declared that the city of Ohrid and its lake must be protected, as they are important to the history of the world. Several churches, the most renowned among which is St. Pantelejmon, bear witness to the times of the educator St. Clement and in 1990 work on the Cathedral of St. Clement of Ohrid in Skopje was completed. Along with other cultural monuments the 11th and 12th century churches of Western medieval thema Bulgaria are famous throughout the world, characterised by unique architecture and priceless frescoes and icons.

Monuments of Islamic culture such as mosques, bazaars and baths from the Ottoman Age have been discovered. In the 14th century, Skopje was described as being an important trading centre with its Old Bazaar, Covered Marketplace (Bezisten), the Kursumli An Caravanserai, Daut Pasha Baths and the Mustapha Pasha Mosque. Another important monument of Islamic culture in Vardar Macedonia is the Painted Mosque in Tetovo. A large number of monuments were erected after the liberation of the city. One of the most interesting monuments erected following the region's liberation is the memorial devoted to the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising in Kruševo. Other memorials renowned for their beauty and expressiveness can be found in Prilep, Kumanovo, Veles and Štip.

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