Kratovo is a small picturesque town in the north-eastern part of Macedonia. It is known as a town – living museum, it has a mild and pleasant climate and it is built upon the crater of an extinct volcano. The town got its name exactly because of the place where it has been built upon, Kratovo – similar to crater… During the times of the Roman Empire, the town was known under the name of Kratiskara and it was a wealthy town with several mines of gold and many stores where the gold was sold as coins and jewelry.
Kratovo is town of dolls, bridges, roman mines, the old bazaar, town of wonderful churches and monasteries built as early as in the 14th century; Kratovo is a town of St. Georgji of Kratovo, being one of the oldest town in Macedonia. Unspoiled nature, fresh air, old architecture, cultural-historical sites, warm welcome and the specific Kratovo cuisine make this town one of the most desired and most visited tourist destinations in Macedonia.
Hotel Kratis is at your disposal to enhance the quality of your stay in the ancient town Kratovo by organizing visits to many siteseeings and monuments within and outside the town.
There are two pine trees raising from the town centre, standing silent as guardians of the town, grandious and powerful, dominating the eastern slopes in the centre of the town. These trees are an unusual natural phenomenon, unseen in other parts of Macedonia, most probably a unique example on the Balkan peninsula, standing there for several centuries. They have been planted even before the Ottoman Empire got its hand onto these areas, and it has been determined that they date back as far as the first half of the 14th century.
Towers in the town originate from middle ages and the Turkish domination period of the town; they represent an architectonic milestone of this ancient town; built in a different periods of time, with a basic function to protect rich families that lived inside. Most of the towers are connected with underground tunnels created in the period when the towers were built, serving as an alternative way out if some of the towers was attacked by thieves. Guard towers were built for additional protection, fenced from outside with stone shields, having only minor holes to fire from in event of an attack.
The towers were built of manually processed stone, quarried in the vicinity of the town, while the roof was made out of stone plates. The construction of a single tower took years because the stone was processed manually. From within, the towers are divided in three or four floors, the top ones with a balcony and housing sections. The windows are protected with iron bars of different dimensions. In the lower part they are narrow and longer, while at the higher floors, they are wider.
Most famous and biggest of them all is the Clock Tower. In 2004 it was partially restored. Other famous towers are Simikjeva Tower, Emin-Bey Tower, Zlatkova, Krsteva and Hadzi-Kostova Tower.
Even though, the town itself is a museum under the open sky, the Town Museum of Kratovo was opened in 1993. The Museum is located in an old Turkish house protected by law, settled beneath the old Turkish prison. It accommodates several collections: archeological, historical and ethnological, each of them with small postulates. The Museum also includes a conservation section. Children Art Drawings Gallery has been made functional within the Museum, displaying sketches made by children living in the town, having been awarded numerous awards at other international exhibitions.
Next to the towers, the bridges are the largest architectural wealth of this old town, seven bridges to be exact crossing over the three rivers flowing inside the town. They are built ion different times, but they were all built in the same style and constructed in the same way. Every bridge has a story to it, but if one is to decide upon their beauty, the Grovchanski Bridge enchants, standing between the Saray and Carshiski (Down-town) Bridge, connecting Ajducka Bazaar with the right side of Kratovo River.
Most famous bridge in Kratovo is Rada Bridge. The legend of Rada Bridge says that Rada was buried alive inside of its foundation. According to the legend, the bridge was being built by nine brothers but the bridge had fallen apart several times. Therefore, the brothers decided to bury inside the bridge the youngest sister-in-low alive. She begged them to leave her right breast free in order to feed her son. The bridge is over Manceva River, erected on two towers, one is 28 metres high and the other is 29 metres in 1833.
Stone columns of Kuklica… The stone town is situated near Kuklica village in Kratovo district. There are many legends and myths for their existence, but the most famous one is that the stone figures are wedding guests, cursed by the forsaken bride, and turned into rocks.
The legend says that once a upon a time, one boy from the village of Kuklica (next to the stone town), who could not make up his mind on who to marry, asked the hand of two girls. The wedding with both of them was planned in a same day. Having no idea on what was going on, one of the brides heard that there was another wedding on her wedding day and run out of her house to see who is getting married. When she saw her boyfriend with another girl, she cursed all of them: “May God turn you all into stone, and me with you”. At that moment, everyone froze and turned into stones.
But scientists do not agree with the legends. According to them, these rocks were formed 10 million years ago, by tectonic erosion by water dissolving minerals. Over the years, the nature created master pieces. The local population says that in every 5-6 years, a new figure emerges.
Cocev Kamen is a volcanic rock used in the ancient times as a megalithic observatory. It is located near village Sopsko Rudare, more specifically the area of Cocevci and the village Konjuh. The rock itself is distinguishable from the surrounding hills and very interesting. Traces of human intervention are visible.
At around 100 meters east of Cocev Kamen there are megaliths serving as sun and moon horizons. On the top of the rock there is a throne turned towards east, from where one can see the point where the Sun and the Moon rise, and make a sun calendar. The megaliths have some carvings within and there are big moons made in their proximity, which is another evidence that this object was once an observatory.
Monastery Saint Joachim Osogovski is located at around 30 km from Kratovo in the middle of the oak forest of the Osogovo Mountains. It is dedicated to the hermit and miracle worker, St. Joachim Osogovski. Founded as early as in the XII century it was also known under the name of Sarandopor. Joachim Osogovski lived in this area at the end of XI and the beginning of XII century. The area was frequently visited by the famous St. John of Rila, Sr. Prohor of Pcinja and St. Gabriel Lesnovski. The Monastery is 1003 old and a famous tourist destination. Each year on 28th of August the Monastery celebrates the religious holiday St. Mary, welcoming people from the area and other towns in the country.
There are in Kratovo three orthodox churches. In the times of the Ottoman Empire, the town had over 20 churches and remains have been found to this end.
- Church “St. Nikola The Miracle Worker” in Carina district, restored in 1848
- Church “St. John the Baptist” in Middle district, restored in 1836
- Church “St. George of Kratovo” – located at the old cemetery
The former one was dedicated to the sole martyr, declared as 16th century martyr by Kratovo, “St. George of Kratovo” burned alive in 1515 in Sofia for his faith in Christianity. In his glory and honor, the day of “St. George of Kratovo” is celebrated as a patron holiday od the town on February 24th, and the martyr “St. George of Kratovo” is a symbol and protector of the town and the municipality.
In the vicinity of Kratovo is the beautiful monastery complex Lesnovo Monastery. It is located in the village of Lesnovo, near Probistip. The church is dedicated to St. Archangel Michail. There is a belief that the monastery was built when he became a monk and another belief that it was built after his death, when the cult of ascetic life was very much respected (as it is indicated in his biography of 1330). The time when Gabriel Lesnovski lived has not been determined. Some believe that it should be somewhere in the 11th century, and therefore that the monastery was built in the second half of 11th century, when in the area of Bregalnica the cult for ascetics was very much developed.
The “Gabriel Lesnovski” Monastery is one of the most significant and most beautiful medieval and sacral monuments of culture, not only in the Republic of Macedonia, but in general. Not only that he is a great mistery by the treasure within and the contents of the iconostasis and fresco-painting, but he was also known by its power to heal. The villagers believe that the saint Gabriel Lesnovski protects them, their village and the monastery and that his spirit appears in certain periods of the year. They also believe that it is not by accident that the village and the monastery have been built there and they are proud to be able to sat that it is biblical area.
The Golden Town or the Town of Warriors dating from the end of the 5th century is located just next to the village of Konjuh. People from the surrounding villages have their own story, legend for the site. Once upon time, a very long time ago, a powerful king with his queen ruled this place. They only had one daughter known for her cunningness, clear mind and firm character.
One day, when they were having lunch, she choked on a bite of food and suffocated. In fact, she was not dead, only unconscious. People at that time, did not know of this medical state and she was pronounced dead. The kind and the queen, stricken with sorrow ordered for a rich funeral to be immediately organized in the area of “Small queen”, just next to the archeological site “Golemo Gradiste” (Big Construction Site) – village of Konjuh. The evening after the funeral, the grave diggers returned to the tomb to rob what was left inside it. They took much of the jewelry, gifts, gold and silver coins and when one of them, reached to take the necklace from the princess, he saw that she is in fact, alive. They were considering whether to leave her alive or kill her, because she had seen them stealing. After a long dwelling on the matter, they decided not to kill her, after all, but take her to another kingdom so that she could not tell on them.
Her parents lived knowing that their daughter is dead. They were trading with very rich countries and when they once came back from such a trading trip, their town was on fire. They started crying and this place is known today under the same name “Plakalo” (Crying site). They had lost everything they held dear and because of this, they decided to settle in Thessaloniki, considering their good trading relations and frequent trips to this town. They moved there, taking everything they owned. As a reminder of the event, there is even today a district in Thessaloniki called “Konjuh district”.