Prehistoric and archaeological sites in North Macedonia

Greek Theatre of Ohrid

The Ancient theatre of Ohrid from the Hellenistic period was built in 200 BC and is the only Hellenistic-type theatre in the North Macedonia. It is unclear how many people the original theater used to seat, as only the lower section still exists. The open theater has a perfect location: the two hills that surround it keep it protected from winds that could interfere with acoustics during performances. During Roman times, ...
Founded: 200 BCE | Location: Ohrid, North Macedonia

Plaosnik

Plaošnik is an archaeological site and holy place in Ohrid. The church was built by St. Clement in the year 893 on the foundation of an early Christian basilica, and dedicated to St. Panteleimon. It was here that the Ohrid Literary School, a center of Slavonic literary and cultural activity where more than 3,500 disciples were educated. St. Clement was buried in this church, in the tomb which was built by his own h ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Ohrid, North Macedonia

Stobi

Stobi was an ancient town of Paeonia located near Gradsko. It is considered by many to be the most famous archaeological site in North Macedonia. Stobi was built where the Erigon (Crna River) joins the Axios (Vardar), making it strategically important as a center for both trade and warfare. Stobi developed from a Paeonian settlement established in the Archaic period. It is believed that in 217 BCE, Philip V annexed Paio ...
Founded: 3rd century BCE | Location: Gradsko, North Macedonia

Heraclea Lyncestis

Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built. Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was ...
Founded: c. 350 BCE | Location: Bitola, North Macedonia

Skopje Aqueduct

The Skopje Aqueduct is the only aqueduct in Macedonia, and one of three largest and well preserved in the former Yugoslavia. The question of when the Skopje Aqueduct was built is unclear. There are three theories, it may have been built during the reign of Rome (1st century), during the reign of Byzantine Empire (reign of Emperor Justinian I) or during the reign of Ottoman Empire. According to this latest theory the aqu ...
Founded: Unknown | Location: Skopje, North Macedonia

Kokino

Kokino is a Bronze Age archaeological approximately 30 km from the town of Kumanovo. The wider Kokino archaeological site covers about 30 hectares. The oldest archaeological finds date from about the 19th century BC, corresponding to the early European Bronze Age. It shows signs of occupation for the period from the 19th to the 7th centuries BC. Finds from the Middle Bronze Age (c. 16th to 14th centuries BC) are the most ...
Founded: 1900-1800 BCE | Location: Kumanovo, North Macedonia

Stone Town of Kuklica

The stone town is an area consisting of over 120 naturally formed stone pillars, located in the village of Kuklica, near Kratovo. There are two main legends surrounding the formation of the strange stone pillars in Kuklica. The most famous legend is that of a man who could not decide which of two women he should marry. So, the man planned to marry each woman on the same day at different times. When the first wedding was ...
Founded: Unknown | Location: Kratovo, North Macedonia

Bylazora

Bylazora or Vilazora was a Paeonian city from the period of early classic antiquity. King Philip V captured Bylazora, the largest town of Paeonia, and very favourably situated for commanding the pass from Dardania to Macedonia: so that by this achievement he was all but entirely freed from any fear of the Dardani, it being no longer easy for them to invade Macedonia, as long as this city gave Philip the command of the pas ...
Founded: 3rd century BCE | Location: Sveti Nikole, North Macedonia

Bargala

Bargala was a Byzantine fortified town constructed between the 4th and 6th century, a period spanning Late Antiquity and Early Byzantium. Today it is an archaeological site and a visitor attraction in the Karbinci Municipality. It is located 20 km northeast of the modern city of Štip on the lower slopes of the Plačkovica mountain. Archaeological excavations have uncovered a basilica, trade quarters, a water tank, a bath ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Karbinci, North Macedonia

Vardarski Rid

Vardarski Rid is an archaeological site in Gevgelija of a town dating from Early Antiquity. Archaeological excavations reveal the architectural layout of the monumental stoa, an acropolis, and other segments from the settlement. Vardarski Rid is also used today as a picnic spot. Vardarski Rid is located in the central part of the Lower Vardar Valley. It is located at a dominant strategic position above the Gevgelija Plai ...
Founded: 13th century BCE | Location: Gevgelija, North Macedonia

Scupi

Scupi is an archaeological site where a Roman military camp was founded in the second century BC on the site of an older Dardanian settlement. It became later Colonia Flavia Aelia Scupi and many veteran legionnaires were settled there. A Roman town was founded in the time of Domitian (AD 81–96) and Scupi became the chief center for romanizing Dardania. Scupi was ravaged several times by barbarians, in AD 269 by the Go ...
Founded: 168 BCE | Location: Skopje, North Macedonia

Tauresium

Tauresium is an archaeological site in North Macedonia, best known as the birthplace of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (ca. 482) and King Theodahad of the Ostrogoths (480). Tauresium and the castle Baderiana were destroyed in an earthquake in 518 and the epicentre of the earthquake was in the nearby city of Skupi. As a gesture of gratitude to his birthplace, Justinian I rebuilt the city. According to the excavations that ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Zelenikovo, North Macedonia

Cocev Kamen

Cocev Kamen is a hilltop cave site of volcanic origin near the town of Kratovo. Objects (bone fossils) discovered near the cave suggest human presence since the Paleolithic. Authors agree that the site served as a gathering point for sacrificial rituals from the Neolithic, during the Bronze Age, throughout antiquity until the Middle Ages as clarified by an abundance of pottery shards, stone (flint) tools and bone fragment ...
Founded: Paleolithic Age | Location: Kratovo, North Macedonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.