Four lakes, five mountains, two rivers, two towns, villages, monasteries, bridges, beautiful nature … It is all packed into a few kilometres of Mavrovo-Struga road along Macedonia’s western border. The road is not easy to travel. It is winding and quite narrow in places with occasional landslides or damaged asphalt. That is why drivers tend to avoid it, but if you are sitting in the passenger seat you are sure to enjoy the ride. Follow us, kilometer by kilometer,visiting 17 landmarks on the most colourful road in Macedonia.
1 km: Beech forest. The road is known as Mavrovo-Struga, but it begins about ten kilometres before Mavrovo as it branches from the Skopje-Ohrid main road. Beech forest with its colorful trunks and green leaves accompanies travellers from the beginning.
8 km: Mavrovo Lake. This is where you first see the most photographed artificial lake in Macedonia. It was created in 1947 when a dam was built and it became part of the hydropower system in the country.
11 km: Mavrovi Anovi.The village stretches along the road and is designed to serve the needs of tourists and travellers with lots of restaurants, shops, petrol stations and rest areas.
20 km: Radika. The first view of the river, which is considered the most beautiful and cleanest river in Macedonia,comes from the bridge that leads to Mount Korab. There is a perfect harmony of clear waters, rocks, dense forests and broad-leaved plants.
24 km: Radika Canyon. Several kilometres downstream the high cliffs on both sides of the road make you feel you are drivingbetween skyscrapers of a big city, except for the clean air and birds’ singinginstead of city noise.
35 km: St. John the Forerunner Bigorski Monastery. The monastery is now completely restored after the 2009 devastating fire which destroyed the monks’ dormitory. It is almost a thousand years old and has been destroyed and rebuilt again several times. The most valuable things here, the church and the invaluable wood-carved iconostasis have been saved. You are not allowed to take photographs inside the church but there are plenty of photo opportunities around the monastery.
37 km: Rostuse and Duf Falls. Rostuse village is situated less than two kilometres off the main road.
There is a trail from the village to the 25 metre high Duf waterfall which is famous for the huge rock that stands stuck between the rocks where water comes flowing down. The sign says that there is a mere 1,020 meters to the waterfall but do not be fooled. The path is narrow and slippery due to moisture, and movement can be difficult for those who are usually inactive. Therefore, take at least an hour of your time for this visit.
45 km: Elenski skok bridge (Deer Leap Bridge). Turn left (eastward) after Boskov Most and drive two kilometres to this impressive stone bridge. It is 200 or 300 years old, made in a single arch hanging about twenty metres above Mala Reka gorge.
47 km: Dolno Kosovrasti Quarry.Take a lesson in geology of the mountains whose greens you will be enjoying all the way.
50 km: Centar Zupa and Kodzadzik. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk fans will probably not mind travelling 17 kilometres along the eastern shore of Lake Debar to Kodzadzik, the birthplace of his father where there is a memorial house dedicated to his ancestors.
53 km: St. George Monastery, Rajcica. The old church and flawlessly designed monastery buildings that rise above it attract visitors from all over the Balkans. It is a must-visit place even if you are only passing by.
55 km: Debar. A small Macedonian town, stereotypically viewed as a place that is dying out because of rapid emigration, will surprise you with the number of newly built houses and buildings.
60 km: Lake Debar. Although the lake is visible much earlier (from Kosovrasti), you will find the most beautiful views five kilometers south of Debar. Be careful if you drive south, the resting areas are on the left so you will need to breach some traffic rules to park the car and enjoy the scenery. Pay close attention to vehicles coming from the opposite direction because the danger of having an accident is very real.
79 km: Crn Drim Canyon. The second river along this road isCrn Drim.It makes its way through the mountains and creates a marvelous canyon.
87 km: Globocica. The waters of this artificial lake are very dark, the surroundings are very quiet and it creates both an amazing and eerie atmosphere. The old village was completely flooded when the dam was constructed and the stories of it only add to the mystique. Also, be careful where you park the car.
97 km: Vevcani and Vevcani wellsprings. Vevcani is the most popular and most visited village in Macedonia. It is located four kilometres from the main road towards the west. It is famous for the carnival festivities on 13th January, for its architecture and wellsprings. The wellsprings create a natural monument of tens of springs and streams intertwined with the rocks and the landscape. You can either take thousands of photographs here or simply forget the camera knowing that you cannot capture the beauty around you.
107 km: Struga. The final destination. The town of poetry, bridges, river Drim and Lake Ohrid, offers the exhausted traveller a hearty welcome.