Pesna Cave, Zrze monastery and the ancient city of Heraclea

From our hotel in Kichevo we drove back in the direction of Prilep. We had a long drive ahead. We should reach Lake Prespa by the evening. Altough the roads passes trough a regions where we drover earlier already, there were still some places along the road worth our visit. First we visited the Pesna cave, with the biggest entrance of the Balkans. Followed by a visit to the wonderful Zrze Monastery. Near Bitola, and on Lada’s request, we’ll make a small detour to visit the ancient city of Heraclea. Finally, we end with a stroll on the beach of Lake Prespa.

The entrance of the enormous Pesna cave is the biggest of all caves in the Balkans.
Pesna cave near Makedonski Brod in Macedonia.
The Pesna cave with the ruines of the fortress.
hung strings with tobacco leaves drying in the sun in Macedonia.
Hung strings with tobacco leaves drying in the sun. The Prilep region is well known for it’s tobacco industry.
Zrze monastery. Below the monastery are the old monk cells carved in the rock in Macedonia.
Zrze monastery. Below the monastery are the old monk cells carved in the rock.
The recently renovated entrance of the Zrze monastery complex. With the traditional Macedonian architecture.
Garden of the Zrze monastery in Macedonia.
Garden of the Zrze monastery.

This monastery is especially famous for it’s wonderful frescoes in the church. A monk came to us and told us more about these frescoes and the church. We also talked about Macedonia and life in general.

The monastery courtyard has a few tables where visitors can have a picknick. Splendid views over the valley with the tabacco fields.

After our visit to the Zrze monastery, we headed one more time to Prilep. We promised a woman there we would come back to visit her. We were lucky to find her at home. As always, we couldn’t say much but we were happy to have met these people.

After Prilep we drove further south to Bitola. A city we visited earlier during this trip already but Lada read there is one more interesting site to see just outside Bitola. The site of the ancient city of Heraclea is still not entired discovered but the current state is already very worth a visit.

You can walk between the remains of several of the buildings. Some of these ruined buildings still feature an impressive mosaic floor.

A mosaic floor in one of the ruined buildings of the ancient city Heraclea.
A mosaic floor in one of the ruined buildings of the ancient city Heraclea.

However, the most imposant building is without doubt the ancient theatre.

Ancient theatre in the ancient town Heraclea Lyncestis

It was definitely a great idea of Lada to visit this place.  Now it was time to go to Lake Prespa. From Bitola we drove along the Pelister National Park to Lake Prespa.

After we made a short stroll to the beach, we drove a few kilometers along the coastal road to see where we could camp.

We finally choice for the camping area of Youth Hostel Prespa-Pretor. If you find a cheaper place to camp than this one, then it’s probably free. It has plenty of space to put your tent. Most of the guest however rent a small house on the property.

At least we do not have to worry about bears attacking our tent tonight. The camping site has a fence 😀