Prilep is a natural stop along the route of a tour of Macedonia. Although it is the fourth largest city in Macedonia, the city center is quite small and commercial. Prilep’s real charm can be found in the quiet residential areas and in the outlying trails above the city. We were surprised to discover many neighborhoods full of fairly large, single family homes which is an uncommon sight in much of Europe. It was nice to see people tending to gardens, enjoying their yards, and sitting with their families on patios.
Upon our arrival, one of the first things we observed was all the tobacco drying alongside the streets. There is almost a sweet, earthy smell to the city. Many of the world’s largest cigarette corporations get their high-quality tobacco from this region. The climate is perfect for growing it here.
Since we missed out on Pelister National Park, we were excited to explore the Marko’s Towers, or Markovi Kuli, and do some independent hiking.
Marko’s Towers lies to the northwest to the city of Prilep. Located on a 590 foot hill, the fortress ruins are from the era of medieval Prince Marko Mrnjačević. It dates back from the 13th and 14th century and remains are in decent condition.
Observers can see that the walls are about one meter thick and are held together by limestone mortar. According to historical documents, the fortress was defended by about 40 soldiers. Exploring this rugged area and appreciating the views from the top is truly the highlight of the city.
Hiking Tips for Markos Towers
The Towers can be reached from the north or south side. The easier route is marked with the red and white markers along a white gravel trail. Making your way down off the marked trail is a lot more challenging. The entire trip will take about two hours, depending how fast you move.
St. Archangel Michael Monastery
Located near the nearby village of Varoš, St. Michael Monastery and church is another site to explore by foot or by car. The church was believed to be constructed during the late 1100s. Be sure to explore the basement of the church, which feels more like an underground cave, to see the 12th century frescoes.
Local legend has it that King Marko built the church with stolen funds, resulting in a curse on the church. Admission to the church is free, but signs ask to refrain from taking photos to respect the monks and nuns who still reside here.
Accommodations in Prilep
We stayed at Markos Towers Apartments which cost about $32 US dollars a night. The unit sits at the base of the Markos Towers fortress, but is far from the city center and bus station. The walk from the center to the unit took approximately 30-35 minutes. We stayed for three nights, but two nights is probably sufficient.
It is important to note that we stayed during the dry summer months and we experienced long hours without water in our unit. Everyday the city shut off the water supply from about 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and again from midnight to 5 a.m.
Best Dining in Prilep
Del Posto is considered one of the best, trendiest restaurants in the city. After checking around, it is probably your best bet for a good meal in Prilep. Generally, we found that Macedonia serves up a pretty good, hearty pizza. We appreciate that restaurants are not skimping on ingredients!
The pizza at Del Posto was also very tasty and fulling. They serve up nice pasta dishes for around $4-5 US dollars. However, drinks are expensive for Macedonian standards (and ours). The local menu has more options than the English version, so if you see photos of dishes you like online, be sure to bring a photo.
We were limited in our exploration around Prilep as we only traveled by foot. If you have any suggestions or local travel tips to share, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.