Medieval castles in North Macedonia

Skopje Fortress

The Skopje Fortress, commonly referred to as Kale, is situated on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River. The fortress is depicted on the coat of arms of Skopje, which in turn is incorporated in the city"s flag. The first fortress was built in 6th century AD on a land that was inhabited during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages (roughly 4000 BC onwards). It was constructed with yellow limestone  ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Skopje, North Macedonia

Samuel's Fortress

Samuel"s Fortress in the old town of Ohrid was built during the rule of Tsar at the turn of the 11th century. Today, 18 towers and four gates still remain from the original structure. With its strategic location overlooking the town and the lake, it provides an ideal place for taking in the whole panorama of Ohrid and its surroundings. It was heavily restored in 2003 with the addition of entirely new battlements wher ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Ohrid, North Macedonia

Strumica Fortress

Strumica Fortress  is a ruined fortress in eastern North Macedonia. It overlooks the city of Strumica. The fortress was built in the 5th century, although the site itself dates from the 1st century BC. Reconstruction of the fortress began in March, 2014.
Founded: 5th century AD | Location: Strumica, North Macedonia

Markovi Kuli

Markovi Kuli or Marko"s Towers are situated to the northwest of Prilep, just above the village of Varoš. The towers, named after Serbian medieval Prince Marko Mrnjavčević, are located on a 120–180 m high hill, surrounded by steep slopes covered with minute granite stones. The upper part of the former settlement can be reached from its north and south side. During the four-decade archaeological research, remnant ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Prilep, North Macedonia

Viničko Kale

Viničko Kale is an ancient ruin located on the hill above the town of Vinica, North Macedonia. It is located on the left side of the Grdečka River, on a hill about 400 meters above sea level. Viničko Kale was discovered in 1954. In 1978, 5 fragments of terra-cotta icons were discovered in Viničko Kale, which shows that it was inhabited from Neolithic times to the Middle Ages. In 1978, 5 fragments of terra-cotta icons ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Vinica, North Macedonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.