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Cultural and historical sites in Novaci Municipality (Historical Route)

Explore the Cultural and historical sites in Novaci  Municipality. Visit the locations marked on the map and study the route well before you start out on your trip.

1. Municipality of Novaci

Starting point of this route is the administrative building of Municipality of Novaci located 9.6 km from Bitola. Here you can get additional information about the places you intend to visit and the state of roads.


2. Suvodol Lake

Established for the purposes of TPP Bitola (REK Bitola) artificial lake Suvodol is one of the frequently visited locations of hikers, climbers and fishermen.
This lake is a great location for leisure and recreation on 9.3 km distance from Novaci.


3. Village of Makovo

Makovo village, located on 19.3 km of Novaci, is a port of entry to south Mariovo. It is settled at 850 m. altitude; hence, there are harsh winters and fresh air. The Makovo oikonym has been derived from the hypocoristic Mako. There were 160 residents in 1568. During the World War I the village suffered a lot. There is a temple of the Synaxis of Archangel Michael in Makovo built 1860; it was destroyed to the grounds in the World War I and re-built in 1926 by the name of St. Resurrection.
Residents of Makovo celebrate Easter.
The monastery of St. Righteous Paraskeve was built and consecrated in 2002. Festivity of the monastery is Petkovden (St. Paraskeve Day).


4. Rapesh Lake

On 22.5 km distance from Novaci (32 km from Bitola), artificial lake in the village of Rapesh is a pleasant sight for visitors to these areas and real refreshment in this relatively dry region. This lake, established for the farmers in the village of Rapesh, offers a really pleasant location for leisure and recreation.


5. Village of Rapesh

The village of Rapesh is an old Mariovo settlement. The oikonymos has been derived from Rapol, which had come from Haralambos or Rahoslav. The Turkish census’ defters of XV century mention a village with 65 inhabitants.
Rapesh is located on the eastern slope of the mountain Selechka on 700 m. altitude. Ascension Day is the festivity of the village. Temple has been built to St. Righteous Paraskeve and St. Great Martyr Demetrius consecrated to both saints. At first the temple was built of stone sometime in 1860, having entrances on south and western sides, decorated with frescoes and icons. It was shelled and destroyed in 1918. The Rapesh inhabitants-escapees returned to their homes and rebuilt it after the war in 1919.
Rapesh village is located 24 km from Novaci.



6. Canyon of Crna Reka

Near the spot called "Jasikite" the regional road from Rapesh to Gradeshnica enters the Crna Reka canyon. Asphalt road ends at this point and a macadam road that begins in relatively good condition; so, cars can use it.


7. Rapesh Bridge

Rapesh Bridge is located on Crna Reka, 29 km from Novaci, The Rapesh Bridge is entrance to the so-called Old Mariovo. At this place you can often see fishermen fishing on Crna Reka, and it is also a place usually used for rest of the passengers traveling to villages Zovikj, Brnik, Budimirci, Staravina and Gradeshnica.


8. Road to the village of Zovikj and Chebren Monastery

Section of the road to the village of Zovikj is 35.5km far away from Novaci. At this point asphalted road starts, 5 km in length, leading to the village of Zovikj.

9. Road to the Chebren Monastery

Mountain unpaved road leads to the Chebren Monastery and off-road vehicles are recommended. Road length approximately is 5.5 km and driving during wet weather is not recommendable.

10. Chebren Monastery

Chebren is a place in Mariovo with rich history. Chebren area belongs to the village of Zovikj, i.e. municipality of Novaci.
According to the written historical sources, the town on locality “Chebren” nearby the village of Zovikj, in the middle ages was known as ”Chemren”. Serbian archbishop Danilo confirms this during the reign emperor Dushan in his book “Lives of Serbian Kings and Archbishops”. Besides other towns he mentions the town of Chemren. Today this could be seen from the saved remains of stones.
The town of Chemren, according to the historical data, until 1331-34, when it was conquered by Emperor Dusan, was part of the Byzantine Empire. By the arrival of the Ottomans the town ceased to exist and in its place a small village remained with the monastery "St.. Demetrius "known today as" Cebren ".
The small village slowly disappeared, leaving behind only the monastery that in the early 18th century had a school for priests who performed service in the churches throughout the area Mariovo. The monastery was highly developed until the first decades of the twentieth century.
The site "the town of Cebren" lies on a separate volcanic pile or mound in the Canyon of Crna Reka (Erigon in ancient times), and in the low area along the river south of the mound around 140 meters high above the river, and not far northwest of the village Zovikj.
In this area you can still see the ancient and medieval remains of a monastery and the displaced village of Cebren. Local mountain road which started from the field to the west and cut the south Mariovo plateau touched Cebren and climbed to the bosom of Kajmakchalan - Kozhuf on east towards the old iron mines. Today it is the road section Suvodol - Rapesh - Manastir - Polchishte. Archaeological researches led by experts from the then National Museum of Bitola in the mound Chebren proved the existence of the ancient settlements from the early reign of the Macedonian kings, according to the discovered coins from that period.



Within the monastery of Chebren the following temples are functional today:

St. Demetrius
St. Salvation

11. Village of Zovikj

Zovikj is a village in the municipality of Novaci located at 725 meters altitude. In earlier times the village was located about 500 meters before the current location and had been called Lenishte. But during the Ottoman ruling it was robbed and burned, therefore, villagers were forced to move elsewhere, so today’s village of Zovikj has been inhabited.
The village probably has been named upon the name of a fountain which had been located in the today’s Zovikj that the Lenishte’s inhabitants had called it Bzovikj because there was a lot of elderberry around the fountain which was the basis of the present name of the village.
There are two churches in the village: St. Nicolas and St. Athanasius, but Zovikj is the most known for bridge on Gradeshka Reka.
According to the census of 1953 Zovikj had 356 inhabitants, but nowadays only about 30 residents live there.
Zovikj revives during the day of St. Demetrius when the feast of the village is. “Zovikj meeting” is also held in Zovikj when emigrated inhabitants of the village gather and Zovikj is full of people as it was at the time. We may freely say also that in the recent years more emigrants from the village return and renovate their old homes turning them into weekend cottages.




12. Stone Bridge in the village of Zovikj

In the vicinity of the village of Zovikj the river Gradeshka flows, which springs in the mountain of Nidje and first empties in the river Satoka, then in Crna Reka.
The river Gradeshka flowing in its stony bed has shaped a canyon with unusual beauty. There is a magnificent stone construction on the river Gradeshka – the Bridge of Zovikj.
The stone bridge is in the immediate vicinity of the village. Its purpose was to bridge the river Gradeshka. The bridge was built for the purpose of communication with the population of the inhabited territories across the river, i.e. the Mariovo villages of Beshishte and Polchishte.

In the medieval period there was probably a wooden bridge instead of the stone one that, as the villagers narrate, had collapsed in one occasion of transport due to overloading.
Even in the 1955/6 year the master Gjuladin or Dzhuladin from the village of Labunishta, near Struga and Trajko Sekirkov, re-built it with the efforts of the local population and the collectives. Immediately next to the access of the bridge on a high cliff St. George has been depicted which is a kind of relic of that church that existed there in the past. This fresco-painting is dated from more recent times i.e. 1925 that was inscribed together with the donors’ names.


Painting with a presentation of St. George

The fresco showing St. George is in a rectangular painted frame which in the upper part ends in a form of arch. The frame is three-lined painted strip: red, in the middle, the widest one with thinner white strip inside and black strip outside. The figure of St. George on a white horse and whirled red cloak killing the dragon is centrally placed. The background is light blue. Rocky landscape is depicted on the lower part of the background. On the upper part of the background abbreviated name of the Saint has been inscribed in white color in church Slavic – Great Martyr and the name George. The fresco on the rock was restored by the NI Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments and Museum Bitola in 2006.
The bridge is one of the most beautiful architectural works in Mariovo. It is built of stone i.e. cut stones and roughly cut stone blocks. It is arch-shaped and conformed to the terrain configuration. In the lower part in the immediate vicinity of the riverbank closer to the village of Zovikj a mill had been built that the local population used for grinding grains. The mill has been built of stone and roofed with stone tiles. Due to the overall attractiveness and timeless impression that the village makes it has become and still is inspiration and subject of interest of many artists, biologists, ethnologists, geologists and many other professions.
The bridge was repaired and reconstructed by the Municipality of Novaci in 2014.


13. Village of Staravina

Staravina is a village in the municipality of Novaci located at the foot of the mountain Nidje, 50 km distant from Bitola. Staravina is a border village because of its distance of about 20 km from our south neighboring country, Greece. According to some legends the village of Staravina has derived its name from the words old wines. Namely, there were a lot of old vineyards in the past where from good quality wine had been produced, but later through the wars they have been destroyed. Staravina as many other villages of the Mariovo region had glorious past. According to the census of 1953 Staravina had 741 inhabitants. But, not just because of that. In Staravina a watchtower functioned where the headquarters of the army, was housed, infirmary and a central primary school was built in 1950 where children from all surrounding villages came.
A one time Staravina was a seat of the municipality of the Bitola Mariovo region; while in 1997 Staravina municipality was formed which unfortunately was disbanded in 2005 because of small number of inhabitants and impossibility to self-finance.
According to the last census of 2002 Staravina village had 23 inhabitants only. The village revives only during the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos which is the feast of the village.


14. Kalesh Angja’s house in the village of Staravina

Kalesh Angja is one of the heroines mentioned in the folk songs at most; Staravina village is her birthplace.
She was a girl from Mariovo having iron will and ready at the cost of life to keep the faith and not to give to the Prilep qadi.
Kalesh Angja originated from Sirmevci family that were living in this quarter, so among the local population this house has been known as the “House of Kalesh Angja”.


Kalesh Angja was trapped perfidiously and her rescue from the qadi’s house somehow has been a prelude to organized uprising against the Ottoman Empire or so called “Mariovo riot” in 1564/65.
Mariovo population has given big resistance to the Ottoman army and has mastered it repeatedly. Although, they were surrounded on all sides and by far less than the multiple enemies the rebels had to retreat to the fortress Peshta located between the villages of Staravina and Gradeshnica. Unable to conquer the fortress by force, the Ottoman army applied wile. Ottomans found the location of the underground channel supplying water to the fortress. Some of the thirsted rebels decided to fight to the death at the gates of the fortress, while the other part together with the women and children were taken in captivity.


View to the place where the fortress Peshta has been located

After the Mariovo rebelion the fortress lost its original purpose and was abandoned. Today it is ruined at great extent because of the bombing during the World War I; it remains as silent witness to the turbulent history of this region. The legend of Kalesh Angja has been immortalized in Stale Popov’s novel with same name. The house where from originated the most beautiful and widely known maiden from the village still stands proudly on the original foundations in Staravina.
Today, the building named as the house of Kalesh Angja is traditional type of building, rectangular-shaped built of natural materials (wood, stone and mud) having functional and symbolic separation of “upper” and “lower” part; the upper part for the household and the lower one for the cattle. Open loggias are known due to mild climate of Mariovo. There is such a loggia in Kalesh Angja’s house.


15. Village of Gradeshnica

Gradeshnica is one of the most famous villages in Mariovo (Bitola’s part of Mariovo) that is a part of Municipality of Novaci and it is 53 km. distant from Bitola.
The location of this village if very specific which may be seen from the fact that Gradeshnica is located quite close to Prilep municipality and at the same time close to the border with Greece.
According to one supposition Gradeshnica got its name for being the most developed of all Mariovo villages, having almost urban appearance, but other supposition says that Gradeshnica village was named after Gradeshka Reka.

Gradeshnica is hilly village located on 850 m. altitude in the valley of Gradeshka Reka, which makes the village quite picturesque. This village was much known for the high birth rate; therefore it is not surprising that Gradeshnica always has been the most populated of all Mariovo villages.
But, neither Gradeshnica was saved from intensive emigrating in the second half of 20 century. So, out of 1,085 inhabitants according to the census of 1953, today less than 100 inhabitants live there.

16. Church St. Demetirus in the village of Gradeshnica

There are nine churches in the village of Gradeshnica. One of the oldest is the church of St. Demetrius which some authors consider dating from XIV or XV century. The temple of St. Demetrius, regrettably, was very little researched so far, although in 1992 a decision for a status of immovable cultural monument was issued.
In the past the team of the Republic Institute for Cultural Monuments Protection has made a record of the monument of culture in Mariovo area, including bacis data only. In the course of 2000 NI Institute for Culture Monuments Protection and Museum Bitola undertook some preventive measures relating to the architecture and wall-painting.
Some authors date the wall-painting of the church from end of XIV and beginning of XV century, but other authors’ researches date a part of the wall-painting and built iconostasis in the beginning of XVI century.

The church of St. Demetrius is located at the entrance to the village along the road leading to the village. The church has been constructed as one-nave building with rectangular base having entrance on the west side and apse on the east side. It has been built of cut stone and semi-cut stone blocks which also has been used for the semi-circular vault. At the entrance on the west side in a concave niche St. Demetrius, the church’s patron has been depicted. The wall painting is not entirely preserved. The interior almost all of its area (east, west, north, south wall, the vault and the built iconostasis) has been wall-painted on a surface of lime plaster. Today the wall-painted areas are not entirely preserved because of the damages incurred on the church construction over the time.
Quite impressive is the massive stone iconostasis separating the nave from the sanctuary. In the nave marble pillars are set one on the north and one on the south side of the nave. Through the pillars and the iconostasis three blind arches have been built above which the stone vault arises.


Total length of the route in both directions:

106 km starting out from Novaci
125 km starting from Bitola


Altitude of all places is marked on the interactive map


Escort by a licensed mountain guide is recommended.
Some locations can only be reached by foot or by off-road vehicle. Please study the route well prior to start the trip.