Top historic sites in North Macedonia

Skopje Stone Bridge

The current Stone Bridge in Skopje across the Vardar River was built on Roman foundations under the patronage of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror between 1451 and 1469. Most of the bridge originates from the Ottoman period and throughout the centuries, the Stone Bridge was often damaged and then repaired. There is historical evidence that it once suffered during the great earthquake of 1555 which heavily damaged or destroye ...
Founded: 1451-1469 | Location: Skopje, North Macedonia

Ohrid

Situated on the shores of the lake, the town of Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. Built mainly between the 7th and 19th centuries, it has the oldest Slav monastery (St Pantelejmon) and more than 800 Byzantine-style icons dating from the 11th to the end of the 14th century. In the shallow waters near the shores of the lake, three sites testify to the presence of prehistoric pile dwellings, and the sma ...
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Ohrid, 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

Church of St. John at Kaneo

Saint John the Theologian is a Macedonian Orthodox church situated on the cliff over Kaneo Beach overlooking Lake Ohrid in the city of Ohrid. The church is dedicated to John of Patmos, the writer of Revelation, who has been by some considered to be the same person as John the Apostle. The construction date of the church remains unknown but documents detailing the church property suggest that it was built before the year 1 ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ohrid, North Macedonia

Church of Saint Sophia

The Church of Saint Sophia in Ohrid is one of the most important monuments of North Macedonia, housing architecture and art from the Middle Ages. The current church was built on the foundations of a metropolitan cathedral demolished in the first decade of the 6th century by the Barbarian invasions. The next church was built during the First Bulgarian Empire, after the official conversion to Christianity. Some sources d ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Ohrid, North Macedonia

Old Bazaar

As one of the oldest and largest marketplaces in the Balkans, Old Bazaar has been Skopje"s centre for trade and commerce since at least the 12th century. The earliest known sources that describe the existence of a merchant quarter on the bazaar"s territory date back to the 12th century. During Ottoman rule of Skopje, the Old Bazaar developed rapidly to become city"s main centre of commerce. The Ottoman his ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Skopje, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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.