Rarely who has been to Macedonia, but even more rare. are the people that have visited other cities in the country that are not Skopje or Ohrid. Even though we are locals, we were not any better, until borders got closed. We came to visit the family, but we were also desperate for a small trip somewhere in the country. The destination was really not very important, what mattered was that it was not one of the top visited locations that summer. So on a very hot day we were on our way to Kratovo.
Kratovo is a small town in the north-east part of the country, situated in a crater of an extinct volcano and famous for its towers and bridges, dating from the 13th century. Having this architecture it is one of the most authentic cities in Macedonia.
We started our trip at the Stone Dolls monument, about 10km before entering the city. The rock formations are more than 30million years old (according Wikipedia), due the volcano erosion the stones got their Doll shape and in order to make it more interesting a legend was formed that a guy wanted to marry two girls, on a same day, while the first wedding was ongoing the other girl saw it and cursed all the people to turn into stones.
There is a place for resting and a small info point, next to the monument there is a restaurant called “Kuklica Etno Restaurant”, but I cant tell more about it since we skipped it, and continued to the city.
We parked the car at the entrance of the town, and had a small walk in the park, good amount of the city population was enjoying the shadow in the Restaurant “Kaj Simo”, the signature of this place is a dish called Pastrmajlija, and what makes is special is that it is made with smoked meat. The place was packed so that is why we skipped it and continued exploring the town.
The town used to have several bridges in the past out of which the most famous were Rada’s Bridge and Jorkshire’s Bridge, and several towers. (12 in the past, but only 6 are left now). The towers were used for protection and also as storage space. Kratovo is one of the main cities in the country for marble production, but on the nature side it is one with the best preserved nature, including a lot of hiking trails starting from the town and leading to the surrounding villages.
So if you happen to visit the country and have an extra unplanned day it is definitively worth the 90minutes ride from the capital.