Hiking to Marko’s Towers
Visiting Marko’s Towers (Markovi Kuli in Macedonian) was an extraordinary experience. There you can see the ruins of the capital city of the Prilep kingdom of Prince Marko. The fortress has been built in the 10th century by Byzantians or by the dynasty of the Cometopuli dynasty, when the first Bulgarian kingdom is limited to the western Balkans.
However, the city has been inhabited since the time of ancient Macedonia and is known with the name Pirlapon. Few are the christian fortresses on the Balkans that are this well preserved after the fall of the Ottoman empire. The rock formations on the hill are a UNESCO world heritage site.
During the reign of King Marko in this fortress was his capital and it was well defended with numerous towers in three defense perimeters. After his death the fortress falls in the hands of the Ottomans and is left in ruins. Just above the city of Prilep, on the hill is situated the St. Archangel Michael monastery, which has been founded in the 11th century and has preserved unique Orthodox Christian frescoes. According to local legends it was built by Vukashin and Marko.
Walking is healthy, try to visit the fortress
The ruins of the fortress are at just 1.75 km from Prilep, we walked on a steep path that leads to the hill, rising at about 200 meters above the city. This could be a challenge for many and is a great opportunity for a workout in nature, amid the crystal clear air of this region. Besides the walk to the hill, local tour guides organize an walking expedition to Marko’s Towers and the region.
The trail is 8km long and takes up to 4 hours of walking through the ancient city and beautiful landscapes. The trail is perfect for people seeking a healthy way to lose weight. In summer it is recommended to visit the hill in the morning or in the afternoon to avoid exposure to the strong sun.
In the foothills of the fortress on the way to Treskavec monastery, the remains of a pagan temple can be observed. It is dated back to the late Bronze era and served either Thracian or Hellenistic cults. The sanctuary is huge and is similar to some of the many Thracian temples which can be observed on the Balkans.
What has survived today are carved in the rocks shapes and figures like the “Elephant rock” and “The lady” which probably resembles the Mother-goddess. One of the curious sites at the sanctuary are the so-called “Footsteps of King Marco” – in folklore Marko is attributed superhuman strength and all over the Balkans are found places with legendary stories of what Marko has done, even in regions that are very far from Macedonia.
Our expedition ended at Тhe Treskavec monastery “Assumption of Virgin Mary”, which is built in the rocks under Zlatovrah peak, at an altitude of 1200m. and is considered considered one of the hardest to access in Macedonia.