17 June 2009

Off the Beaten Path: Sveti Joakim Osogovski

Near the (not particularly interesting) town of Kriva Palanka in northeast Macedonia near the border with Bulgaria, nestled on the slopes of the Osogovo mountains, you'll find the beautiful monastery of Sveti Joakim Osogovski. The monastery complex has two churches, the larger "new" church dating from the mid-19th century (pictured) and the smaller temple of the Holy Mother of God built in the 11th, 14th, and 19th centuries. The monastery itself dates to the late 11th /early12th century, founded by the monk Teofan in honor of the hermit Saint Joakim.

The monastery has a very simple cafe, and also rents monastic cells for those wishing to get away from it all (really away). The church is, not surprisingly, a popular venue for weddings. To get there from Skopje, take the freeway towards Belgrade. After Kumanovo, take the exit to Bulgaria/Kriva Palanka and drive until you see the signs. All in all it is just under 100km from Skopje, and takes less than 1 1/2 hours.

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