Art in Northern Macedonia

By the town of Bitola lies the remains of the ancient city of Heraclea Lyncestis. The city is believed to have been founded by Philip II of Macedonia, and later became an important center on the Via Egnatia of the Romans, linking Rome and Constantinople. Excavations have uncovered rich finds of bronze statues and statues. Several of the buildings have magnificent mosaics, which are among the best preserved from this period. Another ancient city is Stobi, by the river Vardar. Stobi was an important Roman garrison town and later bishopric. Several Roman buildings, sculptures and other art objects have been found, including mosaic floors and frescoes.

Of Byzantine art is preserved a large number of churches and monasteries. Not far from Skopje is the Nerezi Monastery where St. Panteleimon Church, built in 1164, has magnificent and dramatic frescoes.


The foremost art treasures are in the city of Ohrid. Here are several significant buildings with rich decorations from the city’s greatness period as a religious and cultural center in the Middle Ages. The city gained a boost from the late 800s, when Kliment and Naum worked here, students of the slave apostles Konstantinos (Kyrillos) and Methodios. Over 3000 students attended Kliment’s school. In the 11th century, the city was the capital of the short-lived kingdom of Samui; over the city today ruins Samuil’s castle. In the 1100s and 1200s, the city was under Byzantium and Bulgaria, during Serbia in the 1300s, until it came under the Turks in 1395. The Church of the Holy Wisdom (St. Sofia) from around 1053 has well-preserved frescoes and is among the best the examples of Byzantine murals.

Picturesque location on a cliff on Lake Ohrid has the small church dedicated to St. John, named Kaneo after the village, from the 13th century. Famous are the frescoes of the Church of the Virgin Peribleptos (St. Kliment) in the center of the city from 1295. Dozens of other churches in Ohrid are also of great historical significance. Outside the town, on Lake Ohrid, is the St. Naum Monastery, founded in the 8th century, but the original church is destroyed, the current one is from the 17th century.

Byzantine art and architecture

Other places in northern Macedonia include interesting Byzantine-style monasteries and churches, such as Archangel Michael’s Church in Štip, Vodoča and Veljuša Monastery at Strumica, Lesnovo Monastery at Zletovo, St. Athanasius Church at Lešak, Kalište Monastery at Struga, the Monasteries of Matka and Marko near Skopje, the Monasteries of Zrze, Modrište and Slimnički at Prilep and the Matečje Monastery at Kumanovo. Important are the frescoes from the 1100s in St. Djordje Church in Kurbinovo on Lake Prespas. From northern Macedonia also come some Byzantine-style icons; many are in the churches of Ohrid and in the museum in Skopje.

The Turkish period

Several important buildings have been preserved from the Turkish period. In Skopje, the old Turkish bath, Amam, has been transformed into a museum of modern art, and the large caravansera (hostel) Kuršumli-he is an archaeological museum. Each town has mosques with minarets and bell towers, and many have Turkish baths, bazaars, mausoleums (bridges) and bridges. The largest mosques include Isaac Mosque (1508) and Jeni Mosque (1558) in Bitola, Isa Bey Mosque (1475), Mustafa Pasja Mosque (1492) and Alad a Mosque in Skopje. Particularly noteworthy is the “Multicolored Mosque” in Tetovo (1495), with exterior paintings. In Tetovo there is also a dervish monastery, Arabati Baba teki, which is today a museum. In several cities old wooden architecture in the Oriental style, including Ohrid, has been preserved.

18th and 19th centuries

In the 1700s and 1800s flourished woodcarving art, and it is preserved a number of outstanding examples of woodcarving in Baroque style, especially church Iconostasis, as the monastery of St. John Bigorski and the Church of the Holy Savior (Sveti Spas) in Skopje. Macedonia has a rich folk art with weaving, embroidery, metalwork ( filigree, engraving ), ceramics and so on.

Modern visual arts

Modern visual arts emerged in Northern Macedonia after the country was liberated from Turkish rule and became part of Yugoslavia after 1918, but especially developed after World War II when Northern Macedonia first developed its culture. In the reconstruction after the 1963 earthquake, Skopje was characterized by modern architecture and monumental buildings. A modern-style Orthodox church was erected in the 1980s.

Among modern painters are Nikola Martinoski (1903–1973), Dimitar Kondovski (1927–1993), Ordan Petlevski (1930–1997) and Gligor Čemerski (1940–2016).

Nikola Martinoski

Music in Northern Macedonia

The music culture reflects the country’s history and ethnic diversity, with a wide variety of folk styles and forms. Of particular interest is the rapsodic instrumental form of skaros, in free rhythm and various tonalities (diatonic, chromatic and pentatone). Traditionally, dance is accompanied by gaida (bagpipe), but in recent times small wind orchestras have become popular.

The dance tradition is particularly rich, often with unusually complex and complex rhythms and metric patterns. As in neighboring countries, there is a rich vocal repertoire, with ritual songs for the different seasons and at birth, wedding and funeral, work songs, goats songs and love songs. The singing style varies from old-fashioned, unanimous, to newer, two-part.

Theater in Northern Macedonia

Northern Macedonia has a large dramatic theater in the capital Skopje with departments for the different linguistic groups. This applies to the Slavic- speaking Macedonians with their dramatic theater, but also to the Albanian minority which has its Albanian dramatic theater, and it applies to the Turks who have their Turkish dramatic theater.

Albanian Dramatic Theater collaborated in the 1990s with Bergen International Theater and the Project Theater on a production of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House in combination with Bertolt Brechts Baal called Nora meets Baal. Director was Croatian Branko Brezovec. There is also an annual theater festival in Skopje.

Theater in Northern Macedonia