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Veles – A City of Revivalists, Revolutionaries and Poets – a cradle of Macedonian culture

Veles is located in the central part of the country, in the middle course of the river Vardar. It lies on the main road of the Balkan Peninsula along the Moravian-Vardar Valley.

Location of Veles

The main railway in the Republic of Macedonia passes through the city, from which two branches are separated: the one for the eastern part of Macedonia (Stip and Kocani) and the other for the southwest part (Prilep and Bitola). After Skopje, Veles is the most important railway node in the Republic of Macedonia. To the northwest of Veles is the capital of Macedonia, Skopje, the city of Sveti Nikole is to the northeast, the city of Stip is to the east, Prilep is to the southwest and Kavadarci and Negotino are in the southeast. Veles has a very favourable geographical position because it is a crossroad of international road and rail routes and one of the major transit centres in Macedonia. Veles is the sixth city by number of inhabitants in Macedonia with a total population of 43,716 inhabitants.

Etymology and history of Veles

Veles is an old city. Throughout history, the city has often changed its name. It is mentioned in the 3rd century under the name Villa Zora, meaning city-bridge. Later, the city was named Kjupurli. Today’s name was given in the 7th century with the arrival of the Slavs to the Balkans, from the Slavic V Les, which means in the forest (because of the dense forests that surrounded it). During the time of SR Macedonia, but also in the first years of the independence of the state, Veles was called by the name Titov Veles, in honour of the Marshal Josip Broz – Tito. It played the role of an important traffic crossroad and is a famous trading city with highly developed crafts, and especially pottery.

After the Balkan Wars and World War I, the city lost some of its functions. This reflects on its population development. After the Second World War, Veles was developing in a strong industrial, administrative and cultural centre. The main feature of the Veles economy is the industry: chemical, non-metal industry and industry of building materials, metal-processing, ceramics, textile, food, fur. As a developed traffic node, Veles is a regional centre in the Middle Povardarie. There is a large influential gravitational zone, especially expressed in the mouth areas of the Babuna and Topolka rivers, which spread to the Ovcha Pole and Tikvesh.

Cultural-historical monuments

Monument of the Gemidzii – “We are sacrificing ourselves for Macedonia “. The monument is dedicated to the twelve gemidzii (sailors), the majority of who were from Veles, and who carried out a series of assassinations on the evening before the Ilinden uprising in Thessaloniki in order to draw Europe’s attention to the Macedonian issue. At the end of the monument, their message was written “We are sacrificing ourselves for Macedonia”.

Monuments of Koco Racin in Veles

“Se k’ti nokta crna … “In honour of the patron of the Veles high school, in 1968, a monument of Kocho Solev Racin was set in his hometown for the first time. The monument is the work of the academic sculptor Dimko Todorovski, who through the supernatural size of the figure of Racin made an attempt to represent the size of the Macedonian people.

St. Pantelejmon Church (1840) in Veles

The city cathedral church St. Pantelejmon is located in one cavern southwest of Veles, several hundred metres from the last houses. The church is under the protection of UNESCO and is the Cathedral of the Vardar diocese. The frescoes and icons are the work of famous Macedonian painters from the Mijak, Papradishte and Veles region. Most icons were made by the talented painters Gjorgji Damjanov and Gjorgji Jakov Zografski.

Theatre “Jordan Hadzi-Konstantinov Dzinot” in Veles

The famous antique – Roman theatre, which functioned in the ancient city of Stobi two thousand years ago, is part of the theatre tradition in this region. The tradition continued by the educator and revivalist Jordan Hadzi-Konstantinov Dzhinot. His written dramatic texts in 1845 provided him with the primacy of the founder of contemporary theatre text. In the famous centre of the centuries-long theatre tradition, in the city of Veles, since 1948 there is a professional theatre, that is, the National Theatre “Jordan Hadji Konstantinov – Dzhinot“.

Mladost Lake in Veles

Mladost Lake (Veles Lake) – Artificial accumulation with attractive content and recreation zone. Lake Mladost is located on the river Otovica, a left tributary of Vardar, eight kilometres north of Veles. It covers a basin of 97 km2. The lake is about 2 km long, 0,4 km wide and it covers an area of 0,84 km2. On the lake there is a thin reinforced concrete arch dam, 35 metres high, with a cote of 247 metres. The lake is equipped with the necessary tourist-catering facilities, and with the specially organized and decorated boat-restaurant is a centre and tourism and recreation in this area.

Complex Varnalii

The houses of Complex Varnalii belong to the three families Trencov, Prnarov and Paunov. The houses are built in a traditional Macedonian style and have three floors where the many windows dominate the facade which is also decorated with flora and fauna originating from the surrounding area.

The House of Paunovs

It was built in 1868 in the location called Varnaliite. The basis of the house is even, and it is developed on three different levels. The house is big, composed of a ground floor and two other floors. The balcony and the windows have a dominant position. The interior is especially impressive where the elements of the old traditional constructing are dominant. In order to picture out the impression of the traditional city architecture, the Municipality of Veles has reconstructed the façade of the house.

The House of Trencovs

It has been built at the same time as the house of Paunovs. Due to the specific terrain, the house stands to the street with a narrow façade, although it has a ground floor and two other floors. The ground floor and the first floor are made of stone. The architect’s solution of the second floor is especially impressive, in which dominates a room with seven windows with a view to the street. The façade of the house, whose interior is full of traditionally crafted domestic objects, is completely reconstructed.

The House of Prnarovs

It was built in 1868 on three levels with a specific form of the basis. The paved yard of the ground floor is an open space which is connected with the street. Central place of the architectural solution takes the balcony which connects all the rooms. On the second floor dominate the big windows and the sticking-out eaves which enters the roof, full of decorative elements of flora & fauna. The reconstructed façade of the house of Prnarovs has typical bays on the floors.