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Castle by the Pchinja River

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The Castle by the Pchinja River is located at 26 km to the southeast of the capital Skopje, on the highway Skopje-Thessaloniki. The picturesque region elongates towards the west, and the Pcinja River skirts the steep cliffs from that area creating an exciting form of an exuberant fluvial peninsula.

Around 3500 BC, the nameless inhabitants of this minor village were forced to erect palisades in order to protect themselves from the conquerors coming from north. Whether these farmers and goatherds living along Pchinja River were part of the tribes of the Brigi, or were they just culturally similar to them - remains an unreadable page in history. The few collected and discovered pieces of ceramic vessels older than 1000 BC, are the ones that had been used by the Paeonian warriors who fought together with the Trojans against the Achaeans.

Being one of the northwestern and border settlements towards Dardania, the Paeonian settlement above the Pchinja River was clearly administratively dependant from the civic centre Bylazora built at some twenty kilometers from here.

First century AD, as well as the Roman period until the 4th century AD, here Macedonian period from the 4th century BC to the 1e still covered with secrets.

As a Castellion, this settlement had a strategic significance between the 4th and the 7th century, because of the control on the antique and medieval road from Thessaloniki to Scupi (Skopje). In the fortress, towards the western area overhanging the rocks in the northern part along the Pchinja, the Christian population erected a church that had been in use up until the first decades of the 7th century, when the barbaric tribes from north conquered it. In the same time, on the highest rocks alongside the Acropolis, the every - day life of the bakers, blacksmiths and merchants of the time unfolded.

The reconstitution of the Byzantine Empire in the 11th century restored the active life and reinstated the significance of the Castellion, which existed uninterruptedly until the Ottoman conquests towards the end of the 14th century. In the outermost western part of this area, remains of a church with fragments of fresco - painting chronologically associated to the 12th - 13th centuries were determined. It is very likely that the monastery that had been noted in the imperial documents, today kept in the Russian monastery of St. Pantelimon on Mount Athos, was located here. According to this 14th century document, the Metropolitan of Serres, Jacob, received the monastery with the surrounding territory and properties as an imperial gift. It is probable that in the last years of his life he ended up in the cell made into a natural cave, placed under the steepest and southern most rocks under the castle.

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