Marko's Towers (Macedonian: Маркови Кули) are situated to the northwest of Prilep, Macedonia. In order to visit this historical heritage of Macedonia, we suggest getting to the town of Prilep first. From there it is very easy to get to the towers just by consulting with the local citizens.
The medieval city Markovi Kuli was proclaimed as a monument of culture in 1953. The significance of the fortress Markovi Kuli (Marko's Towers) as well as the medieval town of Prilep, in the long history of the Balkans is great, primarily because of its location in Pelagonia. Namely, important thoroughfares that connected the Adriatic Sea with the Aegean Sea had passed through this valley. In ancient times the Via Serdika usljue Heracleam road, as a sub branch of the Via Militaris (Singidunum - Constantinopolis), passed through Prilep, and in continuation it connected with the road Via Egnatia (Durachium - Amfipolis).The fortress was established and developed during the period of the IV century b.c till XIV century a.d and also represents a symbol of the city. Due to the fortress, medieval Prilep is famous on the Balkan with its dominant defense system i.e., she is one of the five strongest and unassailable fortresses on the Balkans.
According to the oldest traces of origin, this fortress was probably built during the time of the most powerful Macedonian kings. That it was a large and continually populated settlement, testify most of the necropolises that originate from the early iron period, through the ancient period to the late Middle Age. In time, the city grows into a large and significant craftsmanship-commercial and administrative center.The oldest written information for Markovi Kuli i.e. Prilep as a fortress, is found in the Byzantine sources from the time of Emperor Vasilij II (976-1025), from 1018.From this period, from the lower city below the fortress, originates the marble pillar which today is located in the church of St. Archangel Michael in Varosh, suburban settlement of today’s Prilep. On it is inscribed one of the oldest Slavic inscriptions, which refers to the Bishop Andreja. Although short and stereotyped in content, it is significant as one of the oldest Cyrillic inscriptions in Macedonia and testifies for the literary activity in this field since the initial period of the Slavic literacy.
The city and the fortress are also mentioned, under the name Prilapon, in the Short History of Jovan Skilica, a contemporary of King Samuil, who after the defeat from Vasilij II at Belasica, died in Prilep on October 6, 1014.Other written information about Prilep and the fortress, originate from the time of the Byzantine Emperor Aleksij III Angel (1195-1203) and are related to the trade of Venice in these regions when Prilep was a part of the feud of Dobromir Hrs.When Byzantine Empire collapsed in 1204 under the attack of the Crusaders, the city falls under Bulgarian government headed by the Tsar Kaloyan (1197 to 1207), until 1207 when it became part of the territory ruled by the feudal ruler, the sebastocrate Strez. Shortly after the death of Strez in 1214, Prilep falls under the authority of the despot of Epirus Michael I (1204-around 1215). In 1230 after the battle at Klokotnitsa between Bulgaria and Epirus army and after the defeat of the Epirotes, Prilep falls under Bulgarian rule until 1241. When Bulgarian king Ivan Asen II died (1218-1241), the city went back within the Kingdom of Epirus, during the time of the despot of Epirus Michael II (about 1237-1271), until 1254 when he falls under the Nicaean rule i.e. under the restored Byzantine Empire.In 1334 Prilep falls under Serbian ruling. Most of the data for the medieval city are from the reign of the Serbian king and later King Dushan (1331-1355). From the documents found in the monastery Treskavec, it is understood that Prilep at that time was great and important city center and that King Dusan had a palace here.From 1350 the name of Volkashin is mentioned, who later in 1360 by King Uros is given the title Despot. After the Battle at Maritsa in 1371 against the Turks, Volkasin dies. He is succeeded by his son Marko, one of the most legendary heroes for whom, unfortunately, there are scanty data. It is known that Marko was a Turkish vassal and as such participated in the battle at Rovine against the Vlach Duke Jovan Mirche in 1395, where he died.Before that, in 1385 during the time of Sultan Murad I (1362-1389) Prilep falls under Turkish rule. With the death of King Marko ends the medieval history of Prilep.