THE BIGGEST URBAN CENTER IN EASTERN MACEDONIA
Nowadays, Shtip represents a regional centre of big economic, administrative, cultural, educational and healthcare importance. Shtip is located on the banks of the rivers Bregalnica and Otinja in the hilly area on the junction of three borders among the valleys of Ovchepole, Kochani and Lakavica. Due to the good geographic position, it has a significant traffic function and a good communication with the surrounding settlements. There are several branches stretching from Shtip, such as roads towards Veles, Sveti Nikole and Kumanovo, then the road towards Kochani, Delchevo and Bulgaria with a branch towards Probishtip and Kratovo, the following one is towards Radovish and Strumica with a branch towards Negotino in Tikvesh.
There is also a railway via this town connecting it with Veles and Kochani. Shtip is considered as a very old settlement. It was mentioned as Astibo in 3rd century BC. After falling under Byzantine rule, the town was known under the name Stipeon, and after Slays arrival in the 6-7th century, it got the present name. From 976 to 1014, Shtip was located within the boundaries of Samuil's state as a citadel. In the course of the 13th and 14th centuries, Shtip experienced great eco-nomic and population growth as a result of the prosperity of handicrafts and trade.
Bargala, one of the most important Late Antique cities in Macedonia, is located 20 km northeast of Shtip. The city is a fortress, surrounded by walls and towers, with monumental entrances and gates, built between the 4th and 6th centuries. With thick walls more than two meters, it had been built by the Romans as a military camp and then it grew into a civilian settlement and early Christian Episcopal Center in Bregalnica Region. In the 5th century, particularly in time of Justinian I, Bargala reached its peak, but at the end of the 6th century on several occasions it was devastated upon the Avars and Slavic conquests. In the Middle Ages, a new settlement in Bargala was founded.
Especially impressive are the floors of the basilica, which was erected at the end of the 4th century and was restored in the 5th and 6th centuries and the most distinguished is the presbytery floor, paved with white and grey tiles. Water tank and two bathrooms (Late Antique large and small bathroom) in Bargala represent a well preserved complex facility with separate rooms, each functionally related. Remnants of commercial and residential facilities were found in Bargala site. Now in Bargala one can see the Basilica, water tank, impressive gate and large part of the city infrastructure. Part of the city bulwark and the main gate are fully preserved. So far, only one tenth of the entire site has been explored, because the area covers about five acres.
Isar, the famous fortress of Shtip is located above the city. The whole fortress is surrounded by a wall which is adjusted to the terrain configuration heading to the north- south and one contour is approximately 350 meters. Height difference between the western and eastern side is from 10 to 15 meters. The fortress is located between the rivers Bregalnica and Otinja, onto a plateau above the rivers with a relative height of 150 meters. The correct data of the fortress origin is not recorded. Most probably, its origin dates back to the Roman Period (2nd-6th century). The fortress was conquered during the war conflict of tsar Samuil with the Byzantines in 1014.
The present building probably dates back to the 14th century when Serbians penetrated in 1328, but very soon (1385) it was conquered and used for a longer period by the Turks. The fortress Isar is consisted of two parts. One is the castle with dimensions 106x20 meters, and the other is the economic yard with dimensions 250x50 meters. There are gates on both sides of the fortress. The fortress has not been used since the 17th century. Nowadays, measures of prevention and reconstruction of the fortress are being performed.
The City Museum Shtip
The City Museum Shtip has various cultural-educational institutions and organizations. There are the City Museum established in 1952, the City Library dating back to the 19th century, the Old School where Goce Delchev worked and a large number of monuments.
In the second half of the 14th century, Shtip was conquered by the Ottomans. In the 15th century, as a result of Turkish colonization, the number of inhabit-ants in Shtip increased and the ethnic structure changed. During the period of the town's occupation by Turks until the Austrian-Turkish Wars, Shtip was the most important trade and handicraft place in Ovche Field. After the Austrian-Turkish Wars the development of the town was in stagnation. However, during the 17th and 18th centuries the population increased again with dominant Macedonian population. Shtip became an important ecclesiastical centre in the 15th century. As a result of its favorable transport position, safety on the roads, developed handicraft and agriculture, as well as non-existence of a larger urban center in the surrounding valleys in the 19th century, Shtip experienced intensive urban and economic development.
Old Macedonian architecture
After the construction of the Vardar Railway, the economic development of the town was strengthened. Shtip had approximately 20.000 inhabitants in the last decade of the 19th century. In the period between the First World War and the Second World War a slight development was marked, having the role of an administrative-governing centre for Eastern Macedonia. After the Second World War, it grew into a contemporary town. Due to its position in the past and nowadays, the town has had a great number of city functions and it has represented a center for a larger number of settlements in the region. Shtip has had an emphasized power of absorption for the local population, mainly from Ovche Field, Lakavica Valley and Bregalnica Valley. It has been one of the reasons of population growth, therefore from 14.000 inhabitants in the year 1953 in Shtip increased to 40.000 inhabitants in the year 2002. Industry has an important place in the town's economy. The textile industry is leading, followed by food, metalwork, footwear industry etc. Shtip is especially attractive during manifestations Makfest and Shtip's Cultural Summer.