29th-30th of September, 2010

To the north of the Nidzhe mountains is a hilly area with grasslands, canyons and rocks. Ancient villages with rustic stone houses are standing almost empty, and they are only connected by small unpaved roads. Some villages are almost completely deserted. This area is known as Mariovo. It suffered heavily during WW1 and most of the remaining population left for cities during the 20th century. Today Mariovo is like an open-air museum. We explored a part of it with a 2-day car trip.



The Nidzhe mountains (2521 m high)
on the border to Greece


The Crna Reka canyon


An old Zastava car


Typical houses


A beautiful old bridge.
The trail on continued on the other side into
the  hills and looked very inviting for hiking.


Some animal tracks below the bridge.
Not sure what animal it is...


Medieval frescoes inside a tiny
church outside Gradeshnica village


19th century frescoes inside the big church
near the main square in Gradeshnica.


Nasty images showing the horrors of hell


The food in hell is apparently not very tasty.


Somebody had left a gift on a table in the church:
a shirt from a famous low-price outlet in Sweden :)


The only pub/shop along our route was this one in Gradeshnica village.
Gradeshnica is the village with the largest remaining population in Mariovo.


Original World War 1 items hanging on a tree in some garden.


Camping on a hill with Gradeshnica visible in the background.


Church in Staravina village


A grave decorated with grenade shells


Gruniste village. The grave of Bulgarian General Kliment Dzarov who died during World War I.


This road was so bad we couldn't continue.
We decided to not cross the stream with the car :)


Fairytale landscape


On the way home we got stopped by a border police man. We first thought we were in trouble because we were driving near the border, but he just wanted a ride home from work. An hour later we were sitting in his garden drinking home-made rakija (alcohol) and eating ajvar, salad, bread... Thanks for the nice hospitality George! :)