Learn more about your country, you'll love it more
Saturday, 29 November 2008

I ran into a great article on Macedonia, conveniently titled “Do Macedonians know Macedonia?”. One can wonder what the answer to this is going to be. If it leaned towards “No”, it did so, rightfully.

After dissecting the information in the article which was in Macedonian,  I must admit, for several of the things there I was not aware of. 

Only two years ago, under the Gruevski Government did Macedonia started protecting its national treasure, specifically archeological finds, who for years were illegally dug out with the artifacts sold outside the country.

I can't forget a conversation I had with a Houston Archaeologist who had worked in Macedonia for a week, back in 1995. She had been kicked out from the country by the Macedonian police for not having a license to conduct archaeological research. According to her, and I quote 'in Macedonia you can dig half a meter and uncover priceless relics that go back thousands of years'. Don't get any ideas.

What is the first thing Macedonians say when a foreigner asks “What can I see in Macedonia?”
The response given to them is short, usually two or three words - Go to Ohrid, Mavrovo.
If someone asks “What is Macedonia unique for” some may say “Churches and Monasteries” but wouldn't be able to name a few, or give a specific number or locations. In other words, foreigners have to be very lucky to meet Macedonians who know even the basic things on their country.

How many of you have been to the Berovo or Debar lakes, the Strumica waterfalls, the incredible church Joakim Osogovski in Radovis. Have you ever visited our old cities, villages, monasteries, who judging from the numbers, we could export them.
Did you know that the most expensive coin collection ever sold was from Macedonia? The coins were dug up (stolen) from Macedonia and sold without any consequences to the seller at a Sothebys auciton.

The commercials about Macedonia, financed by the Government, produced and directed by Milco Mancevski are shown across the world. Good, but instead of being shown on CNN and the likes, these commercials should first make the rounds on Macedonian television.

It has become increasingly evident that Macedonians don't know the basics on their culture, riches, even the history.

Time to start with the basics, though I won't follow any particular order.

Macedonia is the only place in Europe to have rubies.
How many of you have known that the city of Prilep has rubies, precious gemstones who can be seen on world catalogues. And how many of you knew that foreigners are purchasing these rubies at dirt cheap prices. Decades ago, the people in the Prilep region had been told (lied) that the rubies found near Prilep's dolomit marble mine were not gemstones, rather a low quality mineral called corundum.

The Macedonian mine “Alshar” on Kozuv mountain is the only world source of Thallium, and a potential 'mine' for ecological clean energy. Since 2004, the Alshar mine is a member of the “Emerald” network, an organization for protection of nature's rarities.

The highest quality of opium is the Macedonian. Second is Pakistan's opium who has seven morph units. Third is the Columbian with around 3.5 M.E. The Macedonian opium has an incredible 14 M.E., doubling that of Pakistan.

The most famous of all Roman roads has its largest part in Macedonia – Via Egnatia.

The cave “Peshna” in Makedonski Brod is described in the New York Times as identical to the 'imagined' caves in the Lord of the Rings.

Parts of Jesus' Crucifiction cross are layed in the foundations of the monasteries of  St Bogorodica Precista (Kicevo), St. Jovan Bigorski, and St. Georgij Pobedonosec in Rajcica (Debar).

The tomb of the famous Greek “Zorba” is located in Skopje's city cemetary “Butel”. Alexis Georgios Zorba was the inspiration behind Nikos Kazantzakis work “Zorba the Greek”. He had remarried and had children in the Macedonian capital. His tomb is on prominent display at Skopje's cemetary.

Apart from Mother Theresa who is born in Skopje, the founder of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk was born in Bitola.

The father of the modern military engineering is Dijad, from Alexander the Great period. He invented the catapult among many other things.

Music in Macedonia dates back to the 11th century. The Bologna psaltir is written in Cyrilic in the Ohrid village Raven. If you visit the Ohrid Musem you can find written songs and music notes dating back from the 10 to 14th centuries.

The most famous song in Palestine and today treated as an anthem of Palestine and the Arabic world is written by a Macedonian. Bitola journalist and writer Pande Manojlov wrote the theme in 1982 and published it in the Skopje daily 'Nova Makedonija'.

The oldest tree in Macedonia is the Platanus Orientalis in Ohrid. Whether a coincidence or not, the tree is growing since St. Kliment Ohridski time, in the 9th century.

The nuns at the Macedonian church of St Gorgjija Pobedonosec hand make the special archbishop clothing worn by the head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, as well as the heads of the Russian, Greek, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Serbian Orthodox Churches, including the ones in North America and Africa.

The world famous Manaki brothers of Bitola won the first golden medal for cinematography in the Romanian city of Sinaia in 1905.

The Macedonian capital Skopje has been continuously populated by people for over 8,000 years. The Skopje fortress, the neolith areas of Madzari and Chair are among the oldest in Europe.

The Macedonian city of Ohrid is the oldest on the planet, most recently featured on ultra famous US show “Jeopardy”. The Ohrid lake itself is over 3 million years old. It has over 200 endemic species not found on any other place on the planet. Apart from its ancient theater (which is still in use today), the ancient Ohrid (called Lychnidos : the City of Lights) boasted a classical agora, gymnasium, civil basilicas and temples to the Gods.

One of the Titanic Survivors was a Macedonian. Stojko Dodolovski, from the village of Chucher (Skopje area), made a last second purchase of a ticket to the Titanic from a British priest. When the ship started sinking Stojko jumped into the ocean. He swam towards few of the rescue boats, but was not allowed to climb aboard. Stojko stayed calm and floated on the ocean until one of the rescue boats came back to look for survivors, several hours later. Stojko was one of the 12 survivors picked up.

The first ZOO in the Balkans was opened in Skopje.

The 120 stone dolls in Kuklica, Kratovo, who are 10 million years old, were almost accidentally flooded by the Macedonian Government in an attempt to create an artificial lake in the area. The legend behind the stone dolls who are lined up next to one another is that they were guests at a wedding, but were turned into stone, cursed by a forsaken bride.

According to NASA, Macedonia's Kokino is fourth on the list of oldest observatories on this planet. The number one is Abu Simbel (Egypt) , Stonehenge (England), Angkor Wad (Cambodia). Take a moment to connect the dots on a map.

Macedonia has 34 mountains, 53 lakes, with the oldest of course being Ohrid lake, also deepest in the Balkans.

Macedonia annually produces 135 millions liters of wine, 150 million liters of rakija, and 850 million liters of beer.

The first railway route in the Balkans is between Skopje and Solun, in the 19th century.

Anastasie I (Anastasius Flavius), Bysantin king (491 – 518) is someone who should be credited with good portion of Macedonia's infrastructure. Justinijan gets the credit for Samoil's fortress, Marko's Tower, the Skopje fortress.

The first Church in Europe is the Macedonian Church. 50 years after Jesus, Paul had a vision of a Macedonian man asking for help, as written in the Bible. Paul does come to Macedonia, and pays a visit to Filipi, Ber, Stobi and Ohrid. His symbolic trip if looked on Macedonian map, forms a cross. The first woman in Europe to be baptized was Lidija, a Macedonian from the town of Tiatir who in nearby Filipi was selling RED textile fabric. The Red color has always been prominent in the Macedonian folklor, materials and fabric, on the flags of all uprisings throughout the centuries.

The Lesnovski Monastery was the First Monarchy in the Balkans. Until the 1940's the Lesnovski Monastery had the largest library in Southern Europe. The books were later taken out and distributed throughout Macedonia.

According to Archaeologists and Geologists, traces of life in Macedonia date back to the Pliocene, i.e. before the first ice age. In the city of Negotino, bones of an animal are discovered that date back between 2 and 10 million years, while the man found in Aegean Macedonia is believed to be older than the Neanderthal found in Germany (30,000 – 100,000).

This is only a small part on Macedonia. Get to know your country, you will love it more.  //Gorazd V.


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