"Strumica" Strumica by Pijlmans

Strumica Travel Guide: 44 reviews and 212 photos

Strumica is located in the east of Macedonia. The town dates back to the 2nd century BC, when it was called Astraion, meaning City of Stars. Strumica is guarded by the Carevi Kuli (Czar’s Towers) from the Strumica Fortress, which dates back to the 10th century, when Samoil ruled Macedonia and the surrounding region.

You will need more than one day to visit all the sights in Strumica and surroundings, and the Monastery of the 15 Martyrs of Tiberiopolis offers great accomodation.

You can do an easy walk to the Monastery of St Ilija and the Czar's Towers, or a more demanding hike to the Ograzhden Peak.

Interesting sights outside of Strumica include the Roman Baths at Bansko and the Smolari and Koleshino waterfalls.

Tsar Samoil

Samoil and his four brothers first rebelled against the Bulgarian authorities, who ruled over Macedonia. At the same time, the Bulgarians where fighting Byzantium (the Roman empire). After the Bulgarians lost, Macedonia became under Byzantium rule in 971. When the Byzantine Emperor died in 976, the brothers took back Bulgaria and Macedonia.

Later, two of the brothers died in battle, and the third was killed by Samoil himself. This left Samoil as the ruler of a big empire, including most of Bulgaria, Macedonia minus Thessaloniki, large parts of Greece, Albania, Dalmatia, Bosnia and Serbia.

Battle of Belasica

Samoil was crowned king by the Roman Catholic Pope on the island Golem Grad in
Lake Prespa. He later moved to Ohrid, where the built Tsar Samoil's fortress that still overlooks Lake Ohrid.

In 1014, the Byzantine Emperor sent troops to take back the Macedonian empire. This battle took place near Strumica, where now the settlement Vodoca is. Samoil's men were defeated by the Byzantine army. The Byzantine Emperor ordered that the 15,000 men of Samoil had to be blinded, leaving only one soldier with one eye per 100 men, to be able to guide the rest of the men back to Samoil, who had escaped. The name of the settlement Vodoca means "plucked eye".

When Samoil saw his blinded troops return at Prilep, he had a heart attack and died shortly afterwards.

There is no monument for this gruesome event, but a monastery was built at nowadays Vodoca. This is now the Monastery of St Leonthius.

  • Last visit to Strumica: Aug 2007
  • Intro Updated Dec 20, 2011
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Reviews (36)

Comments (3)

  • penumbra's Profile Photo
    Oct 4, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    I admire your dedication in writing up all these tips, not just Strumica, but a significant portion of Macedonia. Your pictures and descriptions have intrigued me into considering a vacation in these parts.

  • picek's Profile Photo
    May 17, 2011 at 5:58 AM

    Great tips. Another thing we like from Strumica is their 'mastika'. Never got bored of it!

  • ATLC's Profile Photo
    Apr 3, 2008 at 2:13 PM

    Particularly gruesome stories, but the photos and tips are excellent again :-)

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