Some more pictures of this nice and quiet town along the Crni Drim river.
On one of the pictures you can see the scene of boys jumping from the bridges into the Black Drim river. In the summer this is a very common sight!
Church of St George
The Church of St Gorgija or St George was built in 1835 on the foundations of an older sacral object.
The iconostasis was completed in 1850.
The iconostasis is quite exceptional, with the lower part being made out of stone. This is something I have not seen before in Macedonia if i remember correctly. The upper part is from wood, with detailed woodcarving.
Besides the special iconostatis, a big icon from St George painted in 1267 that allegedly was found in or near lake Ohrid can be seen in the church.
During a restoration in 1993, many icons from the 15th-18th century were found in the attic.
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
Girl going for water
This statue is officially called "A girls' going for water", and symbolizes the traditional going for water to public fountains by young girls and brides.
The monument is from the middle of the 1980s.
Maybe it should be renamed to "a girl's going to a cafe" because in the summer the statue is completely hidden by the parasols of a cafe, as you can see on the pictures.
It is located next to the bridge over the Crni Drim river, at the main shopping street.
- Arts and Culture
Miladinov Brothers Memorial House
The Miladinov brothers Dimitar (1810-1862) and Konstantin (1830-1862) were born in Struga.
The memorial house is the house where they were born and raised.
The brothers are famous for putting together an important collection of Folk Songs.
Dimitar was a teacher, who followed his education in the St Naum near Ohrid, among other places. Konstantin went to Moskow in Russia.
Konstantin is famous for writing the well-known poem "T'ga za Jug", or "Longing for the South", which he wrote while missing his homeland during his stay in Russia. Every year the Struga Poetry Festival is started with the reading of this poem (see below). A famous Macedonian wine is called "T'ga za Jug" as well!
Due to problems with the Greek church, Dimitar was imprisoned in an Ottoman prison in Istanbul. When Konstantin wanted to go there to help his brother, he was denounced a dangerous Russian spy and also imprisoned.
The two bothers died of typhus in that prison.
The information in the Memorial House is in Macedonian only. We had an elaborate private tour of the exposition, translated by my girlfriend. If you don't read Macedonian, it still is an interesting building to visit. In addition, there are mosaics on display that were found at an Early Christian Basilica in Oktisi.
With the same ticket (50 denars, less than 1 euro) we also visited the Vangel Kodzoman Art Gallery that is located opposite to the Memorial House, and the Natural History Museum.
Longing for the South (T'ga za jug)
by Konstantin Miladinov
If I had an eagle's wings
I would rise and fly on them
To our shores, to our own parts,
To See Stambol, to see Kukus,
And to watch the sunrise: is it
dim there too, as it is here?
If the sun still rises dimly,
If it meets me there as here,
I'll prepare for further travels,
I shall flee to other shores
Where the sunrise greets me brightly
And the sky is sewn with the stars.
It is dark here, dark surrounds me,
Dark covers all the earth,
Here are frost and snow and ashes,
Blizzards and harsh winds abound,
Fogs all around, the earth is ice,
And in the breast are cold, dark thoughts.
No, I cannot stay here, no;
I cannot sit upon this frost.
Give me wings and I will don them;
I will fly to our own shores,
Go once more to our own places,
Go to Ohrid and to Struga.
There the sunrise warms the soul,
The sun gets bright in mountain woods:
Yonder gifts in great profusion
Richly spread by nature's power.
See the clear lake stretching white-
Or bluely darkened by the wind,
Look at the plains or mountains:
Beauty everywhere divine.
To pipe there to my heart's content.
Ah! Let the sun set, let me die.
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
Struga Town Hall
The Town Hall is the building with the blue windows on the left side of the picture, in front of it you can find the Monument of the Revolution.
We usually visit the town hall when we are in a new town, since they often have free maps, booklets about the town and surroundings etc.
The booklets in English and Macedonian were finished unfortunately, but a helpful employee translated the most important things from the Albanian version for us! We also got a DVD with a promotional movie about Struga and some posters.
Mosaics from Early Christian Basilica in Oktisi
Isn't it great when you are surprised during your travels? In 2009 we visited the ruins of an Early Christian Basilica in Oktisi, not far from Struga. The Bradt Guide Macedonia mentioned that there were some excellent examples of late Roman mosaics at this site. Unfortunately, there were no mosaics at all, and we heard that they had been removed to be displayed in some museum. Of course we were slightly disappointed but never gave the mosaics another thought...Until we visited the Memorial House of the Miladinov Brothers in 2012, where the mosaics turned out to be part of the exhibition!
This exposition is part of the Dr Nikola Nezlobinski Museum in Struga. The museum was founded in 1928 with the opening of the department of natural history and the permanent zoological exhibit. In 1961 the archeological department was formed and in 1974 the Vangel Kodzoman Art Gallery was opened.
The 20th century Church of St Nicholas in Oktisi is built on the foundations of the early Christian basilica, the drawing in one of the pictures shows where the basilica was located with respect to the present church.
The mosaic was first discovered in mid 20th century and was dated to the late 4th century. Its conservation and restoration started in 1990 under the supervision of our famous archaeologist Dr. Vera Bitrakova-Grozdanova. She also wrote the following text in a booklet (2010) about the mosaics that we obtained in the museum (the English translation is pretty hard to read):
The Early Christian basilica near the village Oktisi (some 15 km north of Struga) is known since 1927, when on that holy ground the Church of St Nicholas was raised. During further explorations in 1957/58, 1968 and 1990, a spacious building was discovered. The basilica is with three naves with a narthex and exonarthex. On the southern side of the narthex the baptisery is placed, cross-like in shape. On the northern side is the diaconicon.
The floors of the basilica were all covered in mosaics, except for the exonarthex. The building belongs to the structures of the eastern Mediterranean Christian world.
In the polychromatic decoration of the mosaic carpets geometrical forms dominate: Circles, squares, polygonal, triangles etc, with an impressive simplicity. In the nave a geometrical decoration is executed, presenting fields filled with miniature details placed into square, triangle elements, etc, with concentric circles with stylized, three leafed vegetative motives, following the calm line of the drawing. The whole nave is encircled along the sides with bordure of ivy leafs and branches, whose leafs are embroidered with ocher, red and gray colored lining sub-sequentially placed.
In the northern annex the same field with ivy is executed, while the central field is covered with rosette with consecutively colored leafs which form the sign of Christ.
The floor at the exonarthex which is relatively well preserved gives the dominant decoration, summing the stylized geometrical forms and floral motives which surround the dominant iconographic wholeness, filled with Christian message. In large square fields four leafed rosettes are implanted, with floral and geometrical motives with simple but strict linearity. Sometimes in the fields forms of a cross are executed, achieved by the simple lining of the linear ornamentals or by different coloring the fields. This kind of decorative order and program we don't see in the basilicas of the Ohrid region, and not even the motif of the ivy, which is frequently to be seen on the mosaics from the 4th and 5th century in the region of Epirus and Macedonia.
But within the dominant polychromatic geometrization, in the central part of the narthex one square field is incorporated a rectangular field surrounded with fine double bordure. From the sides vertically rectangular fields are executed with rhomboid elements, while in the middle of the field architectural construction a facade is placed in style of tetrastyle, which central part rounds at the end.
The pillars of the tetrastyle, placed on basis end in Ionian style capitols with stylized line. Above the architrave, left and right of the rounded vault kantharos are placed with two birds drinking from a spring, standing on stylized branches who just add to the nature's surrounding. On the left of the inter columns a lantern hangs.
At the center of the educula, besides of the very bad state it is in, remains can be noticed of four pillars with a baldachin above. In front of the whole object an Eucharistic scene is placed kantharos and lambs or deers/ Similar illustrations on a tetrastyle with rounded central part, with birds, candelabras and peacocks was discovered on mosaics at the Middle East in Hama, at Mt Heaven in Jordan.
Adding to these illustrations as mosaics can be noted the depictions executed on the ampoules in which mire and similar was brought of the Holy Land, which today are preserved at Monza and Bobino in Italy. On the led ampoules the Holy Grave from Jerusalem is depicted. The whole central presentation in the narthex at the basilica is inspired by the outlook of the Grave of Christ at Jerusalem.
Analyzing the stylistic features, as well as the geometrics' stylization, the appearance of some architectural elements, with the analogue depictions found at eastern Iliric, as for example Stobi, Athens, Appolonia, as well as the findings of coins at the excavations, this basilica with its mosaics from Oktisi can be dated at the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 5th century.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Natural History Museum, Struga
The Natural History Museum in Struga houses over 10000 examples of flora and stuffed fauna from the Ohrid and Prespa regions in the southwest of Macedonia.
From the outside it looks pretty bad, but inside it is a really interesting museum which gives a good overview of the local fauna.
The museum is located on the west site of the river Crni Drim, downstream of the center of Struga, on Boro Kalajdzioski bb.
The museum was founded in 1928 by the Russian doctor Nikola Nezlobinski. In 1961 the archeological department of the museum was formed and in 1974 the Vangel Kodzoman Art Gallery was opened, which is also part of the museum. We visited the Memorial House of the Miladinov Brothers, the Vangel Kodzoman Gallery and this museum all with the same ticket (50 denars, less than 1 euro).
The museum is open every day from 09.00-17.00 h, but you should call to see if it is open if you want to be sure.
- Museum Visits
Vangel Kodzoman Art Gallery
This small but impressive gallery is part of the Dr Nikola Nezlobinski Museum in Struga. The museum was founded in 1928 with the opening of the department of natural history and the permanent zoological exhibit. In 1961 the archeological department was formed and in 1974 the gallery of Vangel Kodzoman was opened.
The paintings of Vangel Kodzoman (1904-1994) are very colorful and show scenes from the past of Struga and surroundings.
The gallery is located directly opposite to the Memorial House of the Miladinov Brothers and next to the old city house. If you don't know it is there, you will miss it, since the gallery is upstairs in a building without a window or much advertisement.
We visited the art gallery with the same ticket (50 denars, less than 1 euro) we visited the Memorial House of the Miladinov Brothers and the Natural History Museum. It was opened especially for us.
I really enjoyed his paintings and would certainly advice you to go there if you have the chance!
Since information about Kodzoman is not very abundant on the internet, I copied and adapted the following from the 2008 catalog of the Vangel Kodzoman Art Gallery (the English is not always very easy to follow):
Vangel Kodzoman was born in Struga on the 14th of February 1904. In 1924 he received his high school certificate in Ohrid. In 1928 he graduated from the teaching department in the Art School in Belgrade He continued his studies, in a two years academic course of art by professor Milan Milovanovic. Towards the end of the course he had a short study stay in Italy. After nine months army service in Sarajevo in 1931 he worked as an art teacher in the high school in Ohrid. Until the beginning of the war he participated in the spring exhibitions of the Belgrade painters. In 1937 he took part in the exhibition of the independent painters of Belgrade called by the name "bojkotaska". In 1938-39 he received a post as an art teacher in the Seventh Boys High School in Belgrade, were he stayed till 1945. He took part in the cultural, artistic and sports life.
After the liberation of Belgrade he became a military painter in the Department of Propaganda in the General Staff of Macedonia, with the aim for expansion of the plastic arts among the army and the population. He stayed on this position for six months, till the first of June 1945. After the demobilization, towards the end of September 1945 he arrived in Skopje and was appointed a professor in the Art School. He worked in this school till 1952. Vangel Kodzoman is one of the founders of DLUM (The Society of Macedonian Artists) in Skopje and was a member of its managment for many years.
Since 1945 he has taken part in the exhibitions organized by DLUM in Skopje as well as in the Yugoslav centers as well. From 1952 he began to teach at the Teachers College in Skopje, teaching painting, methodology and art education till 1972. He taught many generations of young artists and pedagogues. In 1953 together with Licenoski and Martinoski he represented Macedonian art at the grand exhibition "Half a century of Yugoslav painting 1900-1950" in the Modern Gallery in Zagreb. In 1955-56 he had a four month stay in Paris. In his diary he will write: "After the stay in the metropolis my intensions became more brave and more affirmative, with a certain built up and with a development of a creative instinct."
In 1974 he opened a permanent exhibition in Struga with the theme Struga in the past, in the memorial home of Vangel Kodzoman, with 33 oil paintings and water colours. In 1975 he was elected a corresponding member of MANU (Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences) and a regular member in 1981. He received several awards: the 8th November prize of the town of Struga in 1975, the October prize of the Macedonian state for life achievment 1969, AVNOJ (Yugoslav prize) 1979 and the 13th November prize of the city of Skopje.
The 33 paintings in the art gallery are interspersed with a unique thread of tradition, heritage and the spirit of the surrounding. From the profuse artistic opus of Vangel Kodzoman, a lasting theme are his paintings inspired by his hometown Struga. Numerous of these motives, which as smeared photographic shots are interlaced, converted and transformed into paintings through which the artist experiences and percepts in a strong and sung-about wooden louvers, the winding sandy alleys, the market, the wide fishing spots, the idle cupboards, the blue water of the lake.
Many of the motives by which the author was assumed and encouraged through a characteristic empirical expression to be transferred on canvas, paper, or plywood are lost today. they have irreversibly disappeared with the breath of time and the dynamics of the contemporary way of life; however, these paintings covered with the coating of the years receive a documentary note of last coryphaeus which will always remind us of the beautiful architecture of the old city, the life in the bazaar and the idyllic landscape of the surrounding.
- Arts and Culture
Statue of Kuzman Josifovski-Pitu
This statue is for Kuzman Josifovski-Pitu (1915-1944).
The statue is located in front of an old city house.
A sign next to the statue says:
In this house on 23 September 1941 in the presence of the national hero and member of the regional committee of the communistic party of Yugoslavia Kuzman Josifovski-Pitu, a constructive meeting of the regional committee for Struga and Struga region of the communistic party of Yugoslavia was held (8 November 1976).
Some information about him that i found on the internet (http://www.cybermacedonia.com/bkjpitu.html)
Kuzman Josifovski - Pitu was born on 23 of June 1915 in Prilep. He was a member of KPJ from 1938, and later joined NOB in 1941. Pitu finished secondary school in Bitola and from 1935, he studied law in the University in Belgrade. There he was a student leader and organised the student group "Vardar" where the student communists had the biggest influence. In 1939, Pitu goes to Prilep on a job for his party. The same year he participated in the province meetings of KPJ for Macedonia. Two years later, he became a member of the province Komitet of KPJ for Macedonia. After the occupation, Pitu (as a member of the Partizan leadership in Macedonia) works in its own western part, in which was occupied by Italy and in Prilep he formed a Regional Komitet of the party. In May 1943, as a member of PK and KPJ for Macedonia he led the Suburban Komitet in Tetovo.
In the beginning of 1943, Kuzman became a member of the Main headquarters of NOB and PO of Macedonia. The same year he participated in organising the meeting of our military and political leaders with representatives from the Albanian people, with aim to encourage the freedom battle in Albania, and he also came in contact with the Greek - Partizan's.
On 25 February 1944, when he came to the meeting with representatives of the Central Komitet of the Bulgarian labour party, the police killed him near the railway track in Kozle near Skopje.
The statue is opposite to the Memorial House of the Miladinov Brothers.
- Historical Travel
Old City House
This example of an old house can be found directly opposite to the Memorial House of the Miladinov Brothers and next to the Vangel Kodzoman Art Gallery.
It has limited opening hours, from 09.00-11.00, and unfortunately it was closed when we were there.
In front of the house there is the Statue of Kuzman Josifovski-Pitu.
Monument of the Revolution
The monument of the revolution was erected in 1974 on the location of an older monument.
Nowadays (2012) it looks like it has not been taken care of ever since...
The sign next to the monument tells a poem that translates into something like:
The revolution is like a river,
It flows without stopping
From the springs of the past
To the delta of the boundless future
And while flowing it empowers life with life
Glory and honor to the soldiers of our revolution
Through the ancestors to eternity
The monument is located on the east side of the river Crni Drim, on the square in front of the town hall.
The Statue of Mother Teresa is at the same square and you can also find the Mustafa Pasha Mosque nearby.
Museum of Struga
This building is part of the Museum of Struga, to which also the Museum of National History, the Memorial House of the Miladinov Brothers, and the Vangel Kodzoman Art Gallery belong.
I don't think this building is open to the general public, but we visited shortly with our guide who also showed us the above mentioned museums.
This impressive building is currently (2012) used as an archive and for administrative purposes, but it may be used as a real archeological museum in the future.
- Museum Visits
Statue of Mother Teresa
On the square in front of the town hall there is this statue of Mother Tereza (1910-1997).
Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, from Albanian parents.
The statue can be found on the east side of the Crni Drim river.
At the same square you can find the monument of the revolution and the Mustafa Pasha Mosque is also nearby.
Church of St Petka
The church dedicated to St Petka is found south of the center of Struga, on the west side of the river Crni Drim.
It was closed when we visited.
I don't know in which year it was built, but it does not seem very old.
- Religious Travel
Church of St Dimitrija
This small church dedicated to St Dimitrija (Demetrius) is located directly at one of the main roads, a bit west of the center of Struga.
The church was closed when we were there.
It was built in recent times.
- Religious Travel