By Anita Palceska
Matka Gorge as a part of Treska Canyon is one of the most impressive places in Skopje valley. It’s literally a vertical impact into the Suva Mountain (which in Macedonian would be Dry mountain) by Treska river, closed with Matka damn which makes the artificial lake among the cliffs. It can be discovered in so many ways, but yet hiking is most popular one. There are lots of hiking tracks through the canyon, up on the cliffs, to Vodno or the other surrounding mountains. But most famous, one for those who prefer the touch of nature and high lands, is the one to monastery st. Nicolas Shishevski.
The church is situated almost on top of the cliff, on the opposite side of the main Matka monastery and restaurant complex. So once you are up there you can enjoy the aerial view of the lake with the tourist complex.
We visited it on 23rd of April, in organization of Dobredojde Macedonian Welcome Center, on a very fine sunny spring day. Nor to hot neither too cold for a walk. The hiking track starts at the old bridge across Treska River, just before the main parking lot. It’s an hour of light walk with a moderate ascending through the woods and rocks. Actually most of the flora and fauna in the gorge (actually some 20% of it) is consisted of endemic species. There are 77 endemic species of butterflies… so it was a real healing experience for all 30 of us hikers in different age.
The monastery itself was a nice surprise for all of us… both those who have been there before and the newcomers. The wide yard with small open huts with view on the gorge, the lake down and the monastery complex offers a nice rest. You can just sit on the grass and enjoy the sun. The church itself dates from 17th century and has been left and revived many times since then. You can also meet lots of rock climbers on the cliffs surrounding the monastery and using the yard as their rest base.
The way down is possible in two ways… the same way back and an intense decent directly to the lake under the monastery where you can call a boat by ringing on a big bell. The ride is no more than 10 minutes and offers a pleasant view on the canyon from water.
And we did it in two ways. Half of the group went back on the same track and the other half went across the lake. Both having great times and lots of fun. And leaving all of us anxiously waiting the next hiking tour.
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