Pelister National Park is located in south-western part of the Republic of Macedonia, on the northern side of the Baba massif. Opened in 1948, Pelister National Park is the smallest, but oldest national park in Macedonia. It covers 11 000 ha and its altitudes range from 890 m to 2 601 m at the peak of Mt Pelister, but also there are another 24 mountain peaks. Pelister is also known for its two mountain lakes, which are called Pelister's Eyes, located south of the highest peak. Also they are the sources of many rivers. Those that surface east of the mountain flow to Aegean Sea while those on the west flow towards Adriatic Sea.
Pelister National Park is filled with exquisite flora and fauna. Among flora elements, the most famous are the ancient five-needle “molika” pine trees (Pinus peuce), a unique species of tertiary age being present on only a few mountains in the Balkan Peninsula. All together 88 tree species grow on Baba. Most of forest area on Baba is under beech forest then, behind Molika, comes oak. On some places Molika is mixed with fir. Also a very significant kind on Baba is the blueberry which grows in enormous quantities, on some places hundreds of meters of slopes are under blueberry. Among rich flora two plants are Baba endemics: Alchemilla peristerika and Sempervivum octopodes.
The fauna includes almost 100 bird species, with some rare species like red-billed chough, the stone partridge, the green woodpecker and the forest lark. Among the rich fauna world, which includes snakes, eagles, chamois, lynx, deer, boar, bear and wolf, there is one endemic, Pelister stream trout (Salmo trutta peristericus).
Pelister is one of the most southern mountains in the Balkans that has an alpine character. The climate in National Park Pelister is diverse, but mostly typical mountain climate. The best season to visit the mountain is from May to October. Good walking shoes are needed for hiking the Park, as well as protection against the sun and rain. For longer excursions, visitors are advised to bring food and drinks.
At the foothills of the mountain there are hotels, restaurants, and private accommodation facilities. There are villages such as: Dihovo, Nizepole, Trnovo, Magarevo, Malovishte, where local people offer traditional food and authentic accommodation. Those are developed rural areas with highly authentic architecture, traditional life, old and preserved churches, many possibilities for activities in nature etc.
Info center Pelister
This is the place where you can get all the information about National park Pelister, including brochures, maps, rules, restriction ...
South of the highest peak, in the glacial cirques of the central part of the National Park of Pelister, two glacial lakes are located in: Malo Ezero (Small Lake) on 2 180 m and Golemo Ezero (Big Lake) on 2 218 m, widely known as Pelister’s eyes. Golemo Ezero has depth of 14.5m., and Malo Ezero is actually a spring of Crvena Reka river.
The village located within the Pelister, is situated 6 km from Lake Prespa, at an altitude of about 1000 m. Its perfect location in combination with the leisure of the lake, and traditional old architecture, makes Brajchino a unique place for visitors, where the ecotourism is well developed. With its nature and Brajchino has recently drawn many domestic and foreign tourists. Beside the old architecture which includes the Bey's House and Petre Kostov's House, Brajčino is also home to a few monasteries and churches.
Magarevo and Trnovo
The best way to reach the National Park Pelister is from Bitola, across the villages of Trnovo and Magarevo. The village of Magarevo (Donkeysville) gets its name from the neighbouring village, Trnovo (Thornsville). Today the two villages have merged and a lot of hiking trail passes through them along with a lot of remains of the rich cultural heritage from this region.
Ljubojno is a village located in the region of Pelister, and it is situated some 2 km from Prespa Lake with elevation of 920 m above sea level. There are eight Orthodox churches in the village, and the houses are similar to those in Brajchino, although a few 19th century town houses have also made it into the village square. Ljubojno was recently voted as the "Favourite Macedonian Village of the Year 2007"
Traditional village of Malovishta provides to the visitors benefit of clean air and water and provides abundant natural resources that need to be managed in a sustainable way through the control of the National Park authority. The natural values and the scenery constitute a rich heritage to attract visitor, and the village is increasingly involved in rural and ecotourism.
Churches and monasteries
Pelister National Park houses numerous churches and monasteries, such as churches and monasteries at Trnovo village, Magarevo village, as well as the villages of Brajchino and Ljubojno. Some of this century’s old monasteries and churches have the fresco paintings from the time of their foundation.
Numerous archaeological sites prove that this area has been inhabited since prehistory. In the National Park there are remains from Roman and Medieval times, the trench system and old roads, such as the famous Via Egnatia with all the small sites which had been developed along its trace. Also two well-preserved bunkers located above Kopanki mountain lodge bear witness to the intensity of the WWI operations on the mountain.
The Via Egnatia was a road constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. It crossed the Roman provinces of Illyricum, Macedonia, and Thrace, running through territory that is now part of modern Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece, and European Turkey. Starting at Dyrrachium (now Durrës) at the Adriatic Sea, the road followed a difficult route along the river Genusus (Shkumbin), over the mountains and thence to the highlands around Lake Ohrid and ancient Lychidos (today Ohrid). Then it turned south at Heralclea Lyncestis (present Bitola) in Republic of Macedonia, following several high mountain passes to reach the northern coastline of the Aegean Sea at Thessalonica. From there it ran through Thrace to the city of Byzantium (later Constantinople, now Istanbul). It covered a total distance of about 1,120 km (696 miles / 746 Roman miles). Like other major Roman roads, it was about six metres (19.6 ft) wide, paved with large polygonal stone slabs or covered with a hard layer of sand. Such route was of strategic importance both in ancient times and today, when the flow of the sources of energy and the information, which are crucial to the development of many continental areas, are more evident.
Originally a military road, it served economic and social functions for more than two millennia. After the decline of the Roman Empire the Byzantines used and protected the road. After them came the Ottomans, who send their tax collectors and trade-caravans along its trail. Used by soldiers and later by crusaders, preachers and bandits, merchants and peasants on their way to the local market, tax collectors, caravans with up to two hundred mules and donkeys, loaded with skins, wines, wood and sulphur, the road served local as well as inter-local purposes. Many different ethnic groups made use of the Via Egnatia, and met each other along its trails, in its caravanserais: Greeks and Jews, Vlachs and Pomaks, Turks, Venetians, Egyptians and Roma.
Today, the road Via Egnatia enriched with a lot of cultural heritage from all the period along its trace, as well as the natural environment, is one of the most desirable tourist destinations of our common heritage.
Many remains along Via Egnatia are still visible in the Republic of Macedonia. The city of Lychnidos (Ohrid) and Heraclea Lyncestis (Bitola), as well as the National Park Pelister and the Baba Mountain are real palimpsest when it refers to written and unwritten history, since this region is not passed only through its beauty and mystique, but also through time capturing the moments that have long been hiding from curious eyes of the explorers, scientists and adventurers. Here passed the Via Egnatia, the bond between the Western and the Eastern Roman Empire, one of the 28th Roman highways. One of the ways to discover and experience Macedonia is to visit this road where you can travel, plan visit the archaeological locations, citadels and churches going along the route of this road.