The Monastery of Treskavec lies 10 km outside Prilep. It is built on the ancient town of Kolobaise (3rd century BC - 7th century AD).
The Church of St Bogorodica (Holy Mother of God) on the complex dates back to the 14th century, but was built on the foundations of a 6th-century basilica. You should take a flashlight to be able to see the frescoes and artifacts in the church. There is a rare fresco of Christ as a young boy, another one can be found in the Monastery St Bogorodica Eleusa near Strumica. There is a casket of skulls of seven monks who were executed by the Ottomans, along with 200 other monks.
The complex also has an old dining hall and an inn where you can stay the night.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2013: THE LODGING HOUSES OF THE MONASTERY BURNED DOWN. THE CHURCH AND OLD DINING ROOM HAVE BEEN SPARED FROM THE FIRE.
The people in the monastery were very friendly and offered us a meal. Make sure that you have clothes that cover shoulders and legs if you want to enter, and to introduce yourself.
It is not without reason that this great place plays a central role in the Macedonian film "Before the Rain" by Milco Mancevski!
A great 8 km hike over an old cobbled road can be made from Prilep to the monastery of Treskavec. It is described in the Bradt Travel Guide Macedonia. Shortly: Get a taxi in Prilep to take you to Dabnica, north of Prilep. This ride takes you through the unpaved Roma slums of Prilep. From the end of the asphalt road, drive for 2.8 km (or stop when the road is no longer fenced off on the left and comes to an obvious opening on to the foothills of Mount Zlato). Note the tobacco plants. At the end of the fence there is another dirt track to the left leading to a house. The cobbled road is not obvious at first and heads straight up the ridge of the spur leading up to Mount Zlato. The cobbled road lies directly between where the dirt track divides and if you have a compass set it to 6000 mils or 340 degrees and follow this bearing until you come across the obvious path uphill. After an hour, the path reaches a water fountain. From here on the path is practically straight until you get to the back gate of the monastery. We got lost on the way but nevertheless managed to reach the monastery!
To walk back, you can take the 10 km trail that leads directly to the Towers of Marko. It is also possible to stay the night in the monastery if you are too tired to hike back. However, we went back the same day, via the path that leads to the Towers of Marko.
Alternatively, you can take the dirt track to the southwest of the monastery. Take the street Gorce Petrov, heading out of Prilep towards Kicevo. Turn into the new town cemetery and turn immediately left and follow the road around the back of the cemetary. At the junction where you loose the asphalt (500m from the main road) is a small sign marked Manastir Sveti Bogorodica, Treskavec. This road takes you about 8 km uphill to the monastery.
This was part of a trip we did from Ohrid to Prilep and Krusevo.
This cave has an enormous entrance. Before the entrance, there are the ruins of a Byzantine fortress.
The legend has it that this fortress used to be the home of Pesna, the sister of King Marko (1335- 1395).
The spring of the river Peshnica is located in the cave itself.
The cave is close to the village Makedonski Brod. If you take the road from Prilep to Kicevo, take the turnoff to the village Modriste, just before Makedonski Brod.
The cave is close to Motel Pesna (on your left when driving on the road), and a few meters past Motel Pesna there is a hardly readable sign pointing to the right to the village Lokvica (see pictures).
Although the cave is quite shallow, a flashlight is recommended.
The longest cave of Macedonia, the Slatinski Izvor Cave, which is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is also in this neighborhood. In fact, we thought the Pesna Cave was this famous cave and we did not look any further! Only now when writing this tip, I find this out...
Next to the cave is a factory for tobacco, as you can smell when walking past it.
After a trip with a rental car from Ohrid to Bitola, Heraclea Lyncestis, Prilep and the Towers of Marko, we decided to drive back from Prilep to Ohrid via Kicevo, in order to visit the Monastery of Zrze. The Monastery is also called the Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration (St Saviour).
The Monastery of Zrze lies above the village of Zrze. To get there, take the road from Prilep to Kicevo and turn right at the turn-off in the village Ropotovo, in the direction of Pestalevo. From the turn-off, you drive about 8 km on a small asphalt road. In the second village, there is a sign to a road to the left to the monastery. The sign might not clearly say "Zrze" but maybe shows another name for the Monastery. However, there is a clear church-like picture on the sign.
From here, the asphalt stops and you will be driving on a unpaved dirt track with many holes for 5 km. After 5 km you reach an open space with some houses, you should park your car here unless you have a 4WD (or very good insurance).
We were told the Monastery of Zrze was about 30 min walking uphill from there. At 5 minutes walking from the parking the Monastery was already visible high up in the hills.
When you walk from the parking towards Zrze, you pass through what can be called "rural Macedonia", with pigs and other farm animals running around freely outside!
Since it was getting dark, we decided we would go back and visit the Monastery of Zrze another time. All this driving on the unpaved dirt-track for nothing!
This tip is just to get your attention for the Monastery of Zrze and to warn you for the conditions of the road. According to the books and what I've heard, the Monastery is certainly worth a visit!
High above the town of Prilep stand the Markovi Kuli, Towers of Marko, named after the last Macedonian king Marko.
Marko Mrnjavcevic, son of Tsar Volkasin Mrnjavcevic, was of Serbian origin. When his father died in 1371 in a fight against the Ottomans, the crown was passed to Marko. Prilep, which was the capital of Marko's empire, eventually fell to the Ottomans in 1394. A year later King Marko was killed while he was forced to fight for the Ottomans.
Parts of the fortress should date back to the Iron Age, 3rd and 4th centuries BC and later periods during the Ottoman Empire. Most of the ruins that can be seen today are from medieval times.
We took a cab from the center of Prilep to take us up the hill until underneath the Markovi Kuli. This place is marked by a huge rock that has the shape of an elephant (see the pictures). If you are by car, you should park it here. We walked up the hill over the road leading to the fortress. This road is white with crushed marble, since Prilep is a mining town for marble.
You can follow this white road (the easy way), or you can attempt to storm the fortress by trying to find one of the steep paths straight up the hill (harder but shorter).
It is possible to spend several hours amongst the ruines, the view is wonderful up there. Take enough water with you, because there is nothing up there (except a spring halfway the hill, that you will likely not find because it is quite a bit off the white marble road).
From the top of the hill on which the Towers of Marko are situated, it is possible to hike 8 km to the Monastery of Treskovec on the next hill. However, we went to the Monastery of Treskovec the next day via a different trail, and instead came back to Prilep this way.
This was part of a 3-day trip we did from Ohrid-Prilep-Krusevo-Ohrid, described in another tip.
See the link below for more pictures of the Towers of Marko!
After our visit to Prilep (this is part of a 3-day trip from Ohrid-Prilep-Krusevo-Ohrid, see my other tips) we took a cab to the monastery of St Spas in Trstenik, on the road from Prilep to Krusevo. The road to the monastery is down in the valley before the road starts climbing up to Krusevo.
We arrived there in the evening and got a room in the new part of the monastery. After breakfast the next day (take your own food) and visiting the church on the site, we hiked from the back of the monastery to Krusevo, together with a friendly old man and his horse. The way is not marked, but more or less obvious. Nevertheless, try to get some directions in the monastery.
In Krusevo we did some sightseeing, please see my page on Krusevo and my tips sections.