Saturday, April 20, 2019

Trescavec Monastery in Prilep, North Macedonia: April 20, 2019


Our Easter weekend began in Prilep, North Macedonia, when we met guide Milan at the trailhead for a hike to Treskavec Monastery.  In 2012, along with my friends Azita and Angel, I hiked this trail to the same Monastery. Then, Milan was also our guide. This time Milan guided both Dan and me.

The hike, both times, was extraordinary with beautiful but varied scenery along the way. Last time, it was the end of March 2012 and the skies were dark and dramatic with rain threatening. This time, in mid April, there was barely a cloud in the sky. Wildflowers peeked out from crevices between rocks and flourished in moister, shaded portions of the trail.

There were violas and violets, small anemone-like flowers, and dwarf bearded irises in purple and yellow.








The trail is good but it is a steady climb with an elevation difference of about 600 meters. Some stretches are quite steep.




There have been a few changes at the monastery in the last seven years. Now there is a road from Prilep to the monastery, but the biggest change occurred in February 2013 when the monks' quarters caught fire and were mostly destroyed. That's the bad news. Fortunately, the fire brigade managed to save the church from any fire damage. The good news is that the government of Macedonia seeing that they almost lost a 12th or 13th century treasure decided to take steps to protect the church (Church of the Holy Mother of God) and its frescos from further deterioration. The church now has a temporary roof over it to keep rain from seeping into the church and damaging the frescos. The monk's living quarters are almost rebuilt. The rooms have a concrete firewall between them. Once they are finished, hikers can once again stay overnight before heading back to Prilep or beyond.



After a small lunch, we headed back to Prilep on a different path. This one was longer, but a lot more gradual in its decline.

Leaving the monastery, we were followed by a cat. At the monastery gate Milan fed the cat some leftover meat that the cat quickly devoured. Milan petted the cat who followed us quite a distance before he returned to his life at the monastery. Gotta love a man who is kind to cats!




Back on flat land, the trail took us through a Roma area and beyond where we were able catch a taxi back to our car. The total walk/hike was 10.8 miles/17.5 km.



Prilep is a tobacco growing region. Most families have small plots dedicated to tobacco. The current price is about €5 per kilo. The tobacco seedlings are just about ready to be moved and planted in May.


On the way back to Skopje, we once again stopped at Stobi Winery for another great dinner.

Particulars:
Licensed Tour Guide (English and German) Milan Veleski from Prilep
milanveleski@gmail.com

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