About Bistra Mountain
Bistra is one of the most stunning Macedonian mountains. The name Bistra (eng: clear mountain) comes from the relatively clear climate conditions ruling on this mountain. Bistra is one of the most accessible mountains in Macedonia. Thus, climbing Bistra to enjoy this excellent mountain landscape is much easier. The vast meadows and pastures, immense forests, numerous sheepfolds and large herds of sheep are quite common. Bistra is also a kingdom of mountain tea. The range is situated in the north-western part of the Macedonia, which is the largest mountainous part of the country. Bistra is mainly consisted of limestone rocks. One of the most interesting features of the mountain are the karst fields. There are fourteen karst fields and the most important ones are: Tonivoda, Govedarnik, Bardaš, Sultanica, Solomunica, Suvo Pole, Chukni Topanica, Lower and Upper Poljce, Tri Bari, Tri Groba etc. Bistra has beautiful rivers and the most important ones are: Galichka, Selechka, Tresonechka, Belichka, Zaeshka, Studenica etc. Bistra is full of many springs, particularly near the villages of Galichnik, Janche, Selce and Rosoki.
Bistra provides numerous peaks that are higher than 2000 meters and a number of peaks between 1500 and 2000 meters:
• Medenica (2163 m)
• Trebishka dupka (2151 m)
• Kjurkov dol (2110 m)
• Bistra (2101 m)
• Jarochkach (2015 m)
• Govedarnik (2011 m)
• Mali Shar (1993 m)
• Sandaktash (1981 m)
• Veli vrv (1916 m)
• Usin (1890 m)
• Jastrebec (1723 m)
Big part of the mountain is included into the boundaries of the Mavrovo national park. The National Park Mavrovo is famous for its extremely rich flora and fauna. The park embraces a variety of plants and animal life including over 300 kinds of birds and 45 types of vertebrates, 1200 types of plants (divided into 295 classes and 87 families), over 52 mountain tops that are within the territory of the park, and which have the height of over 2000 m.
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Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski is situated above the river of Radika, near the road from the town of Debar to the Mavrovo lake. It is built in the distant 1020 year. It has one of the most beautiful walnut iconostasis in the country and in the Balkan peninsula (the process of iconostasis creation took more than 10 years of hard work). It is true master-piece of the carvers from this region, carved by the Filipovski brothers. The masters, apart from motifs of the Bible, represented some of the flora and fauna of the beautiful region from the Radika gorge to Debar.
The monastery is dedicated to St. Jovan Krstitel (Saint John the Baptist). Today, the monastery lives again actively as a religious center with a brotherhood of monks. The monastery inns have been adjusted for modern use and are rented as inns for the numerous visitors. The monastery services, the baptisms, and weddings are part of the monk’s life in the monastery, and at the same time they are a great attraction for the tourists. The monastery ambient is redeemed with the old mansions with the spacious wooden balconies and the dining room furnished with authentic furniture from the time of its construction, the late 17th and early 19th century. The monastery is also famous for the Icon of St. John Bigorski which is believed has a mysterious power. The Icon was found by the monarch Jovan in the year of 1020, on the same place where the Monastery was built later on, and it was floating over the river Radika.
Bistra has ones of the most beautiful villages in the country. The villages are famous by its unique architecture and churches. Especially interesting are the customs performed during the celebration of the Orthodox holidays Vodici, Vasilica, Epiphany, Easter, and especially the wedding ceremony.
The village of Galichnik is situated on 1350 meters above the sea level. There are more than 500 houses in the village, but there are only a few inhabitants during the winter (the village is visited mainly during the summer months). The village is famous by the Galichka wedding ceremony that is occurring annually on 12 of July (Orthodox Christian holiday of St. Peter's day, called Petrovden). Thousands of tourists from the country and from the other countries, as well as politicians, diplomats etc are visiting Galichnik for this occasion. Several beautiful churches are available for visiting in the village.
On a plateau at Mount Bistra, surrounded by beech and oak forest, at 1,350 m altitude, is situated one of the highest settlements in Macedonia, the village of Lazaropole, the second largest in the region of Mijach. There are about 400 houses in the village. The older ones reveal the traces of the Mijach highland building style. The village was the birthplace of numerous Macedonian authors, educators, carvers, teachers, fresco and icon painters, and constructors. Especially picturesque are the village church of St. Gjorgi, built in 1838, and the small churches in the forests near the village. A visit to Lazaropole will adorn the soul with an unusual peace and calmness, will fill the eyes with the view from Sokolica of the summits of Krchin, Korab, and Stogovo.
It will make you sense the odours of the mountain flowers of Koritnik and it will clean your lungs with the unpolluted crisp air of Bistra. It is wonderful to visit Lazaropole in June, when the whole area is filled with the narcissuses' odours, or in September, when the entire forest is bathed with the rainbow colors of yellow, brown, green, pink, etc. Or in winter, with the icicles glittering from the village's roofs. The main annual gathering of the people which origin from this beautiful village is at 2 August (the orthodox Christian holiday of Ilinden).
Bistra is accessible from several directions.
The northern approach to the range can be made using the good connection road that begins at the capital of Macedonia - Skopje. The road goes near the cities of Tetovo and Gostivar and reaches the lake of Mavrovo, which is already part of the mountain and National park Mavrovo. From there the villages of Galichnik and several other villages can be used as a starting point for climbing the north-western part of the Bistra Mountain.
The western approach can be made from the town of Debar, village of Janche and other villages, but the western mountain slopes are very steep and the routes for climbing are quite limited.
The southern approach can be made from the Miyak villages of Lazaropole, Rosoki, Selce, Tresonche etc.
From east the mountain can be explored beginning from town of Kichevo, the villages of Izvor, Ehlovec, Ivanchista etc.
When to Climb
The mountain can be easily climbed in the period from June to September. The months of March and April are not recommended for climbing, regarding the lots of snow that are present in the higher parts of the range.
Also, many of the roads within the mountain boundaries are cleared from snowfalls periodically in winter (not on regular basis) and the visitor that wants to reach the villages of Galichnik, Lazaropole and other villages on the mountain in winter should obtain additional information about the conditions on the roads.