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MONASTERY OF ST. JOAKIM OSOGOVSKI

Immediately east of the small mountain town of Kriva Palanka, this beautiful ensemble of Orthodox buildings was founded way back in the 12th century by a priest from the arid plains to the south, although the two churches that make up the most important part of the contemporary site date from the 14th and the 19th centuries. Suffering the usual indignities of the times, such as its brief incarnation as a mosque during Ottoman rule, the frescos alone are worth making the effort to visit this place, although there are many other good reasons to drive this far, not least for the miscellaneous art events that take place throughout the year. The ensemble also includes a wonderful hotel, offering the ultimate retreat from life without the need to convert to Christianity.

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