Macedonia’s „grand canyon“
From stunning stalagmites to endemic creatures buzzing around the boondocks, Matka Canyon is a Macedonian jewel.
By Dimitar Bocevski for Southeast European Times in Skopje — 20/07/09 Photos by Tomislav Georgiev
Boat tours launch daily, so sightseers can catch a glimpse of the limestone stalactites and stalagmites of the Karst caves.
Less than 20km southwest of Skopje, the Matka Canyon is an ideal spot to explore the green Macedonian countryside.
Spanning about 5,000-hectares, the canyon is chock-full of caves, hiking trails and clear, running rivers — a paradise in the great outdoors.
Karst caves are peppered throughout the canyon, some of which are more than 100m long. For those with an enthusiasm for speleology — the study of caves — local boat tours travel in the subterrane daily, so sightseers can catch a glimpse of the limestone stalactites and stalagmites.
Water lovers might enjoy kayaking in the nearby Treska River. The site is known for its wild water slalom opportunities. Numerous international and regional kayak championships are organised there.
„Matka is also the Macedonian word for ‚womb‘. A lovely convent near the Tresca [Treska] River Canyon — dramatically cleaving granite cliffs — is named for Mary, mother of Jesus, and is dedicated to mothers ‚from whom all human life flows,'“ said the Macedonian National Tourism Portal.
Hikers can scale the towering rock walls
Matka Monastery, also known as The Holy Mother of God, located on the Treska River bank, has frescos dating back to the 15th century, according to Adventure Guide Macedonia.
Several other monasteries and churches can be found in close proximity to the canyon, such as St. Andrew’s Monastery, which is thought to date back to the late 1300s.
Art and religion aren’t the only things flourishing at Matka Canyon. The warm Mediterranean climate draws a wide range of flora and fauna.