A PEARL UNDER BELASICA, ONE OF THE FIRST CHRISTIAN CITIES IN THE BALKANS, A CITY OF HOSPITABLE PEOPLE AND RICH CULTURAL-SOCIALIZING LIFE
Strumica is an administrative-governing, cultural, educational, health and economic, functional centre in one of the most developed agrarian areas in the country. It has wide influence on the rural settlements of Strumica, as well as Radovish and Valandovo.
Strumica is a city in the south-eastern part of the Republic of Macedonia. It is located in the south-western part of Strumica Valley. It has a role of a traffic crossroad for more cities of the eastern, north and south parts of the country. Mainly, there are three traffic exits: towards south via Valandovo, Dojran and Kuklish to Thessaloniki, to the north via Radovish and Shtip towards Skopje and Kumanovo, and to the east via Novo Selo, Petrich and Melnik towards Serez and Istanbul, as well as one road connection towards Berovo.
Strumica is a settlement of the Pre-Slavic period. The oldest data of the existence of this city dates back to 181 BC, it was mentioned under the name Astron (the city of stars) as a major residential place of Peonean tribe Astron. It was mentioned as Tiveriopolis as Roman-Byzantine and church city in the Middle Ages. Strumica is Slav name of the city, it originates from the name of the river Strumica, it is diminutive of the name Struma.
Spa Bansko is a thermo-mineral healing spa dating back to ancient times and it is one of the few preserved Roman monuments of this kind in Europe. Its water capacity is over 50 I/sec. It is located approximately 12 km eastern of Strumica, in the foothills of Mount Belasica. In the area of 1000 m2 ten rooms were discovered, whose walls are preserved at height of 2 to 6.7 meters. Baths had changing rooms, sauna, and pools with hot and cold water. Most probably it dates back to the 3rd century, during the rule of the Roman emperor Caracalla, who was known for raising and restoration of thermal baths throughout the Empire. There are five thermo-mineral springs and only one of them - the largest is professionally captured. It flows into the main bath called "Turkish Bath" and the other four, flow into freely. The temperature of the water source that supplies the "Turkish Bath" is about 71 degrees and does not change during the year, which proves that water comes from a great depth, without atmospheric influences. Bath waters are considered to be healing for various diseases, primarily rheumatic. Near the village of Bansko and the city of Strumica, the spa was accidentally discovered when digging the foundations of "Tsar Samuil" Hotel in 1978. Pools in the hotel can be used and eggs boiled into the hot water with specific taste can be tasted. There are chestnuts and lime-trees as well as pure mountainous springs in the vicinity of the spa. The fern of this Macedonian area is protected by UN. The whole spa complex offers excellent accommodation facilities and opportunity for combined tourism.
Smolare Waterfall is situated in the vicinity of the village Smolari, at an altitude of 600 meters on the mountain Belasica. The total height of the vertical section of Smolare Waterfall is 35 meters. At the bottom of the waterfall, a giant pot is formed, whose length, in the direction of water flow of river, is five meters, the width is 11 m and the depth is a half meter.
Koleshino Waterfall is located in the lower course of the Baba River at an altitude of 500 meters. Its height is 15 m, with the fall width of about 6 m. It is a tectonic waterfall, created in granite stones. Toward Kolehsino Waterfall, at a distance of about 100 meters, there are several smaller waterfalls located in a row, two to four meter-high, which belong to its central basin.
Group marriage at Koleshino Waterfall - Starting from the first group marriage consisting of twenty couples in 2008, under the sponsorship of the Municipality of Novo Selo and by blessing of MOC-OA, the traditional August ceremony of group marriage obtains bigger interest and devotion
Monastery St. Leontij, village of Vodocha (11th century) it is full with monks and religious-liturgical living, the renewed quarters have become again a residential complex of the Strumica Eparchy
The monastery is in the village of Vodocha, that got its name according to the dreadful event that the Byzantine emperor Basil II had committed at that place, taking out the eyes of 14.000 soldiers of the Macedonian tsar Samuil (vadi oci -Vodocha = taken out the eyes). The monastery was an episcopal residency of Strumica Eparchy.
In course of the Macedonian bad history it was robbed and its sacred and cultural treasure was taken to the neighbouring countries. It was built onto an early-Christian basilica dating back to the 5th-6th centuries. Its foundations have been preserved, together with the church vestiges: there are parts of the altar apse, the prothesis and the diaconicon dating back to the 6th-7th centuries. Over 1000 graves with jewellery and ceramics dating back to the 14-19th centuries were discovered in Vodocha monastery complex due to the archaeological excavations. The monastery of Vodocha has preserved valuable medieval fresco painting. The paintings in this church are characterized by stretched bodies and strong modulations of the heads of saints. Painted between 1018 and 1037, the frescoes of Vodocha are among the masterpieces of medieval art in the Byzantine painting in general.
Monastery Madonna Eleusa Monastery, village of Veljusa (11th century) one of the oldest churches in Macedonia, and it has never been destroyed or recovered - it remains the same as it was built, but today it is decorated by the tooth of time
The monastery is located above the village of Veljusa, near Strumica. There is a beautiful panoramic view of the valley of Strumica from there. The monastery and the quarters are known for its architecture, fresco painting, the mosaic floors and the marble iconostasis. A testimony for its origin back to the 11th century is the marble plate with the inscription by the ktitor (founder), the bishop Manojlo from Strumica and 1080 as year.
The plate with the inscription and the best icons had been robbed during the First World War, and the monastery was set on fire, but it did not burn. The smoked frescoes serve as a testimony and a consequence. At certain periods of time this monastery was male, but there was also a sisterhood in Vodocha, while today is the opposite. The artistic values and rich treasury of precious works of art, aimed to transcend all existing artistic achievements of the churches in Strumica region. The Descent into Hell is completely preserved, dating to the time of the construction. There are also other partially preserved compositions from that period, as the well-known Cross from Veljusa - unique of this kind in the whole world. Before the altar there are fragments of a mosaic floor. The rich historical documents originally preserved in this monastery (available in Monastery of Iviron on Mountain Athos), Church of St. Mary Merciful (Eleusa) takes the most significant place in the ecclesiastical and cultural history, not only in the south-eastern part of Macedonia but in the Balkans, as well.
Two levels of this square were built and it occupies an area of 27.000 m'. One third of this area is underground traffic infrastructure (underground roads 420 m long with an underground crossroad and a garage for 96 vehicles), and 18. 000 m2 paved area on the surface there are the Clock tower, two fountains and complete installation of urban, cultural, traditional, ecological, horticultural and other items. There are the monument of Goce Delchev, the bronze figure "Strumica's Girl under Mask" dedicated to the International Strumica Carnival and 27 flagpoles with flags of countries-members of the European Union. It was opened in 2010, anyway the square already represents a pedestrian island in Strumica and one of the inevitable contemporary city' s features.
Tsar Samuil restored the city on its present location in the ninth century. The city developed as an important trans-potation and military-strategic center. After Samuil's death in 1018 and the fall of Samuil's Empire, Strumica became a Byzantine military and administrative seat for this part of Macedonia, and the Eparchy of Strumica continued to exist. It had that role until the end of the 12th century. In the period from the 11th to the 14th centuries, it fell under sphere of interests of Byzantium, Medieval Serbia and Bulgaria. It fell under Ottoman rule at the end of the 14th century. Strumica had the role of an intermediary place for barter of agricultural and manufactured goods in the period of Ottoman rule. It kept that function and after Vardar railway construction, when goods via Udovo were transported to Eastern Macedonia. That kind of function in the region contributed to an evident population increase; therefore there were 18.000 inhabitants in Strumica before the Balkan Wars. After the Balkan Wars and the First World War, the number of the inhabitants in the city decreased because Muslim population migrated to Turkey. It had ne-gative influence on the crafts and trade. After marking the border with Greece, the number of inhabitants continued to decrease. Namely, there were 6.000 inhabitants in the year 1921. In the period between the First World War and the Second World War, Strumica was a small town with undeveloped economy. After the Second World War, economic and population growth was marked in Strumica: from 10.868 inhabitants in the year 1948 to approximately 35.000 inhabitants in the year 2002. Migration of rural population influenced on evident population growth in 1961. Besides agriculture (gardening pro-ducts and tobacco), the city has developed secondary activities (food, textile and tobacco industry).