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EXPLORING SMALL VILLAGES

Despite the fact that the area around Strumica is one of North Macedonia’s largest and most prosperous industrial and agricultural regions, it still manages to maintain small-scale life and culture in abundance. Rich in tiny villages where progress is slow to arrive, bringing or renting a car for the ultimate rural adventure comes highly recommended. If you’re in the area, take a look at the sleepy village of Belotino, with its traditional stone houses set in a luscious landscape of green rolling hills. And then there’s the friendly settlement of Murtino, famed for its hospitality and home to arguably one of the most bizarre-looking Evangelical Methodist churches you’ll ever see. Kosturino on the other hand is a sleepy village that betrays a violent past, when on December 8, 1915 the bloody Battle of Kosturino fought between the Irish and the Bulgarians tore the landscape to shreds. Included in larger First World War guided tours, all that remains to date is a small stone cross near the village of Valandovo some 10km to the south. And if you’re planning on taking a trip to Roman baths at Bankso, take some time to explore further. The village’s connection to tourism has gifted it with a number of recommended attractions, most notably in the form of several highly recommended traditional restaurants.

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