Edit Sections


Sacred Mysteries of Macedonia
Featured article on Yahoo Adventures

Richard Bangs has paddled African rivers, journeyed to Antarctica, trekked to Himalayan mountain thrones, bestowed digital cameras upon New Guinea highland villagers, and made the first 21st-century Western foray into Libya.

Richard recently set out to explore Macedonia, unlock its treasures, and uncover some of its many mysteries. His journey was broken up into five days.

Richard meets the foremost archaeologist in Macedonia, Pasko Kuzman, who has been excavating 3,000-year-old submerged sites in Lake Ohrid, and the first fortress of King Philip II, Alexander’s father, on its shores.


Day 2
Where did science and religion begin? Richard meets with two men on a mountain in northeast Macedonia who claim it began here, at an ancient sacred temple called Kokino. Just five years ago archaeologist Jovica Stankovski and astrophysicist Gjore Cenev were poking about the Bronze Age ruins near the top of this 1,000- meter high neovolcanic shock when they noticed certain notches in the ridge were aligned with the positions of the sun and moon at their seasonal rise. A year later the discovery was validated by NASA, and Kokino is now fourth on the short list of oldest observatories on earth.

Day 3
The old religions converge in Macedonia, where holy relics hide in monasteries and some secrets are best left unexplored. For centuries, religions have competed for supremacy in Macedonia. For 500 years the Muslim Turks ruled, now Christianity predominates.

Day 4
If there is a fountain of youth, perhaps it is wherever pure water flows. High in the blue mountains above the village of Drugovo, inside the walls of the Monastery of Sveta Bogorodica Precista, there is a cool mountain spring that serves all denominations with its healing powers. The nun who is caretaking says that the water here regularly performs miracles. When asked if she has witnessed any, she cites a 17-year-old girl who suddenly went mute. She came here and drank the water, washed some over her face, then spent the night in the adjacent church with her mother next to her. In the morning she opened the door and her voice rang out over the hills. The nun herself is living testament. In 1999 she and six others, including a three-monthold baby, all who had partaken in the holy water, left the monastery for a road trip. On the second curve going down the steep mountain the car veered off a cliff. It crashed into a tree and was totalled. Yet miraculously all seven, including the baby, were thrown safely from the car before impact. The police later puzzled over the impossibility as they found all the doors locked and the windows rolled up in the smashed vehicle.

Day 5
With its voluptuous mountains and urgent canyons, Macedonia is perfect for adventure. With a population of just two million people in a country the size of Taiwan (which has 23 million), a culture of biking and walking, and no real heavy industry, Macedonia has the cleanest air and water in Eastern Europe. Combined with its voluptuous mountains and urgent canyons, the country is designed for adventure. During his brief stay Richard set out to scuba dive in Lake Ohrid, rappel the 90-foot high Smolare waterfall on Belasica Mountain, spelunk a galaxy of caves, paraglide over vineyards, jeep safari the Sara Mountains, hike the blossoming highlands, and more... but couldn’t squeeze them all in.

Richard finishes his report by saying, “Macedonians are wistful for the time when their borders had the longest reach, when their power was at its apogee. But they don’t live in the past — they continue living lives to the fullest, rich with adventure, ardent with passion, bright with opportunity, and filled with the never-ending quest for good food, good drink and brilliant moments.”

Read all of Richard’s adventure at:


© 2006  MacedonianLife.com