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Olivera Makrievska - Expert Report on the Historical Sights in the Municipality of Novaci

The Mariovo region is predominantly mountainous region, which covers roughly the southern part of the central part of the territory of the Republic of Macedonia.

The region is surrounded by mountains of Nidze  and Kozhuf from the south, Selecka from  the west, Kozjak, Dren Planina and part of Kozhuf Mountain from the north side. The relief of the region interspersed with three major rivers:middle course of Crna Reka, Gradeshka Reka and Bela Reka. Across the area of Mariovo Crna Reka flows where the longest canyon in the Republic of Macedonia is – the Skochivir canyon - that admires with its exceptional beauty.
Mariovo is divided in Small, New Mariovo, located from the left side of Crna Reka and Great, Old Mariovo – on the right side of the river.  
Its favorable location, natural resources (energy sources, forests, metals, non-metals - lignite, nickel, antimony, chromium, perlite, asbestos, feldspars, quartz, granite, volcanic tuff etc.), as well as the favorable climate (Mediterranean, moderate and continental ) enabled in the past and will enable in future prospective development of the region.
Mariovo, because of its geographical peculiarity, is separated from the neighboring areas with large border mountains and very poor traffic connections. This natural autonomy on the one hand is good, especially in the past, leaving this area out of foreign influence and impacts, but on the other hand the isolation contributed to the region to be only a rare unproductive ecological region today.
Mariovo region once had even more than forty settlements of which some do not exist today: Kostenovo, Peshta, Gudjakovo, Klinovo, ' Rzhanovo, Lisec, Tumanovo, Satoka, Leshnica, Trnovo Crnichani, Melnica, Petalino, Kalishte and Vrpsko. Today villages still exist, but with a minimum number of residents. Some of them count as 1 resident, as in the case of the village of Brnik.
Inhabited villages of Mariovo are: Gradeshnitsa, Brnik, Vitolishte, Polchishte, Kokre, Iveni, Rapesh, Orle, Grunishte, Rozhden, Galishte, Majdan, Veprchani, Beshishte, Zhivojno, Makovo, Staravina, Dunje, Kalen, Krushevica, Manastir, Peshta, Chanishte, Budimirci and Zovikj. The above mentioned villages belong to three ethno-geografic units, Bitola, Tikvesh and Prilep Mariovo.
Administratively Mariovo belongs under three municipalities: Novaci, Kavadarci and Prilep.
In many legends the name of Mariovo area is met as Morihovo, Morina, Merihova, Marina etc. Famous is the legend for Mary (Marija) who has agreed to dwell with the Bey on condition her native area not to be forced to convert to Islam; Marija’s native region in her memory got her name in modified form. Organized form of living in Mariovo has continuity from the prehistoric period to the present.
Numerous fragments of pottery dating from prehistoric times, petro-graphic monuments bearing engraved symbols, many ancient archaeological findings from the pre-Roman period, late Antique and Roman sites with preserved architectural remains and other excavated findings, early Byzantium sacred architectural remains, late-byzantine sacred architectural remains (churches, monasteries, wall-painting), churches, monasteries, wall-painting and icon painting dating from period of Prerodba (Re-birth) as well as churches from later period i.e. XX and XXI century testify this.
In ancient times the area of Mariovo belonged to the Macedonian region, Pelagonia, i.e. the kingdom of Pelagonians was located on this area. There are data that from the researches that Mariovo had been populated with inhabitants of Illyrian and Thracian origin that later has been assimilated with the migration of the South Slavic tribes – Brsjaci.  
There are not sufficient data source for the medieval times. Mariovo was mentioned in the first diploma issued by the Byzantine Emperor Basil II in 1019 referring to the Ohrid Archbishopric. In this diploma Mariovo is mentioned together with Meglen, Prosek, Setina and Ostrov. Later, around XIV century Mariovo is mentioned in the Charter of the Serbian King Stefan Urosh. In the period under the Ottoman ruling Mariovo is mentioned in the Turkish census of population defters in Mariovo nahiya.  
Throughout history Mariovo changed many masters (Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey) for its own inclination to Bitola, Prilep and Tikvesh area, but it was more formally having in mind its natural geographical autonomy.
For example, during the Ottoman ruling Mariovo had special status of an autonomous province "Haas". Sequence of this autonomy was clean and compact Slavic area with minor cultural and other influences; therefore the old Slavic names of various localities have been preserved.
Although isolation of Mariovo region has been mentioned in the history, there are events that are notified:  two Mariovo rebellions, one in 1564/65 and the other in 1688/8. Participation of Mariovo population in the Ilinden Uprising in 1903 is noticeable, while during the World Was I, i.e. in September 1918 the armies of the Central Powers held positions in the Macedonian front in this area, east from the village of Staravina and the village of Zovikj.
With time, especially after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, after the Balkan Wars and World War I there was an economic stagnation of the region. After the World War II increased migration of Mariovo population started towards cities, plain areas and out of Macedonia. Today Mariovo is sparsely populated area.
Folklore and ethnological features of Mariovo are particular and they need to be cherished and preserved. Symbiosis between the man and surrounding countryside is particularly remarkable and causes lofty feelings. This may be noticed in many rural areas in the Republic Macedonia, because it is a typical feature of our traditional architecture. The exceptional harmony in this region is a result of the natural geomorphology of the ground that inspired our people to use natural materials from the environment. In this way wonderful Mariovo settlements with houses built of stone, wood, mud, sticks, straw, etc., many churches and monasteries, mills, granaries, sheepfolds, barns have been created. However, Mariovo deserves affirmation, development and revitalization of the area by creating favorable socio-economic conditions in the future.
In this region there are still a number of churches and monasteries dating from the early and the later Middle Ages, churches and monasteries of the newer period (XIX and XX) century as well as remains of the ancient period. Many archaeological sites of ancient and late Classical period have been identified as Peshta between Staravina and Gradeshnica Gradok near the Bridge of Rasim Bey, Zagradishka chuka, on the north side of the village Vitolishte, Gradec near the village of Manastir,  Tumba Chebren, northeast of monastery complex Chebren, Sadevi nearby the village of Melnica. Among the numerous churches and monasteries dating from different periods famous are: Chebren monastery church dedicated to St. Demetrius, who owned monastery school where Church Slavic has been taught, the church of St. Salvation 14th century, monastery of St. Athanasius, in the village of Gradeshnica, Church St. Demetrius 14 -15, century church of St. Elias (1872), in the village of Manastir, church of St. Nicholas (1266), in the village of the Kokre the church of the Holy Spirit, in the village of Dunje church of St. Demetrius. In this village since 1880 a school was organized. In the village of Peshtani the church of St. George, in the village of Veprchani - St. Salvation, in the village of Krushevica the church St. Archangel, in the village of Polchishte the church of St. Salvation (1892), in the village of Beshishte – churches of St.Elijas and St. Paraskeve – Petka, in the village of Zhivojno churches St. Paraskeve – Petka and St. Ilija, in the village of Vrpsko  - St. Archangel and many ot Target of the research
This scientific work presents the following cultural and historical monuments on the territory of the Municipality of Novaci:
1.1 Monastery complex of Chebren (CHEMREN)
1.2 Stone Bridge in the village of Zovikj
1.3 House of Kalesh Angja in the village of Staravina
1.4 The Church of St. Demetrius in the village of Gradeshnica
1.5 The Church of St. Nicholas, in village of Gradeshnica