Known as Little Mount Athos by its Medieval churches, the most picturesque Byzantine monasteries are located by the Treska River in the canyon Matka. The full day tour with a breaks includes a trip through the major highlights of Matka canyon which covers an area of around 5.000 ha and is located 15 km southwest of Skopje. The tour includes the Dormition of the Holy Mother of God monastery, St. Andrea church located on the shore of the artificial lake Matka, in the canyon on the Treska River and the boat trip to the small Vrelo cave.
By its morphogenetic characteristics, the canyon Matkait is a breakthrough gorge. Karstic forms deserve particular attention here – ten caves with their length ranging between 20 and 176 meters and the two vertical chasms with a depth up to 35 meters. Matka . Out of the total number of 1000 plants, 20 % are endemic or relic species. Among Tertiary relics, the most significant are the kosanini violet (Viola kosaninii) and nataly’s ramonda (Ramonda nathaliae).
Two new species of real spiders and 5 false scorpions have been discovered in the area of Matka. In the Canyon, 119 species of daily and 140 species of nightly butterflies have been recorded. It is also important to mention that there are 77 species of Balkan endemic small butterflies in the area of Matka Canyon, while 18 other species are new to the science. The Canyon of Matka is on the List of CORINE sites.
View Byzantine heritage of the Republic of Macedonia in a larger map
The church of the present-day monastery in the gorge of the river Treska dedicated to the feast of the Dormition of the Holy Mother of God was built in the late 14th century. This relatively small, but high-rising cross in square domed church belongs to one of the most common architectural types, characteristic of the taste of the local donors/landed gentry.The only inscription above the entrance to the church which dates from 1496/7 testifies to the devotion of Milica, the feudal lady from Skopje, who restored the ruined church roof, added the narthex on the west side and decorated the interior with frescoes (more info).
Hidden among the steep and high rocks, at the bank of Lake Matka is the breath-taking “St. Andrew church”, built by the second son of the king Volkashin, Andrew. The church St. Andrea in the village Matka was erected in 1388/89 with the fresco painting dating from the time of its foundation. The ideal of beautiful shapes, well-contemplated proportions and balanced composition are immanent in the art of the frescoes. The object itself is a three-concha domed church with a narthex that was added in the 16th century (more info).
The cave Vrelo is located in the Canyon of Matka, near Skopje, on the left bank of Treska River, next to the springs of Koritiste. The total length of the cave composed of two halls is 176 m. There is a lake within the cave, with a length of about 30 m and width of 2 to 4 m.
Departure: from meeting point
Departure time: 08:00 am
Duration: 7-6 hrs
Guide: Vasilka Dimitrovska, M. Sci in archaeology and professional tourist guide
Price: 145 EUR per tor
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By phone: 00 389 77 432 861
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