Part 1 - Kokino Observatory in Northeast Macedonia
Today is a national holiday in Macedonia. It is St. Cyril and St. Methodius Day. They are responsible for creating the cyrillic alphabet--nothing to celebrate as far as I'm concerned. At least we can read cyrillic--slowly that is.
On the way to the Bulgarian border we stopped at Kokino to see the megalithic-era observatory. This ancient observatory is at an elevation of 1030 meters, and it is more than 3,800 years old. According to our guidebook, and apparently NASA, it is the fourth oldest in the world after Abu Simbel, Stonehenge, and Angkor Wat. We've now been to the top four.
|Kokino Megalithic Observatory on rocky mountain|
|The Notch and The View from the Top|
The observatory measured the maximum and minimum aberration of the rising of the moon during sumer and winter solstices.
Part 2 - Monastery St. Joakim Osogovski in Northeast Macedonia
Back on the highway and a little further on, we turned south at Kriva Palanka to visit the beautiful monastery named for St. Joakim Osogovski. The monastery is surrounded by beautiful, lush green forests. They also have a hotel and restaurant here (see Facebook Manastir Kompleks and talk to Igor 078-359-120). This would be a great place to return to in the summer to do some hiking and enjoy the cooler weather of this elevation.
The historical roots of this monastery go back to the 11th century. The smaller church on the left was built in the 14th and 16th centuries on 11th century foundations. The larger church was finished in 1851.
This monastery was built by the people of Kriva Palanka and it is extremely well cared for. Beautiful frescos painted by Macedonian artists cover both the inside and the outside of the large cathedral.
Part 3 - Bulgaria, finally!
Our next destination was Rila Monastery in Bulgaria. Along the way we found other things to stop at. Our first stop was in the forgotten town of Boboshevo. This town as seen much better days. The architecture of the street side buildings is extraordinary. Now they are a faded memory of better days.
Our next impromptu stop was in Kocherinovo. As we drove by, we saw the scene below and turned around.
This is a collectibles "museum" of all things related to the Bulgarian way of life under communism.
|Our lovely guide|
The resident "guide" did not speak any English so that meant we had to communicate with my limited Macedonian words. She did a lot of pointing, but the explanation was lost on us.
|Dan photographed by our guide|
Our last stop was Rila Monastery located within Rila National Forest. We arrived quite late so there were only two or three other people strolling around.
Rila Monastery was established in the 10th century, but the structure that stands today dates from the mid 19th century.
Just like in the previous monastery, frescoed murals adorn the outside porches of this monastery. They were painted in the 19th century by icon painters from Samokov. The cathedral is called the Church of the Nativity. Since the skies had lightened a little we were able to see the snow covered mountains beyond the walls of the monastery.
|Archangel Michael mural|
|Ceiling painting - The center is the story of Adam and Eve|
|Scenes from Hell|