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Veles

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The town lies between the River Taor and the Veles ravine, amphitheatrically positioned on both sides of the River Vardar and is populated by approximately 47 000 people and its altitude varies from 300m to 1500m.

The oldest town colony in this area was Vila Zora. The name is a compound word from the Illyric words villas which means town, and ora which means bridge. In the first written document about the town, which originates from the 3rd century B.C., it is said that Vila Zora was the largest town in the state of Paionia, located between the rivers Aksios (Vardar) and Strimon (Strumica).
    
After the settlement of the Slavs, Vila Zora got the Slavic name Veles, named after the Slavic god of herds and grasslands.

The Ottomans conquered it in 1385. In the center of the town there was a bridge, built on four pillars, because of which it was named Khuprili–bridge, or the town of bridges. In the middle of the 19th century, Veles has become a famous trading centre in Macedonia. It had commercial relations with Thessalonica, Istanbul (Carigrad), Blagoevgrad, Vienna, Peshta, etc. The Veles merchants were exporting raw leather, thread, poppy, wheat, vine, brandy…The merchandise was transported with rafts over the River Vardar to Thessalonica, and it was transported to Skopje, Kumanovo, Prilep, Bitola, Khustendil, Sofia, etc. by caravans. After the construction of the railway Thessalonica – Skopje in 1873, the trade started to decline, and that brought about the disappearance of the boatmanship. That word is tightly connected with the organization of 12 young Macedonians, who in 1903 thought that if they caused material damage on the Ottoman Empire’s institutions, as well as, those of the western European countries, they would attract their attention in order to solve the Macedonian issue. They were named the Boatmen. Few of them descend from Veles. As a sign of remembrance of their self-sacrificing for Macedonia, in the central part of the town, near the Small Bridge (Malo Movche), a monument was erected; it is named `The Line of the Sun`.

From Veles also descends one of the most famous poets of the first half of the 20th century – Kosta Racin. His house was transformed into a museum, and his bronze monument is placed in the centre of the town. To honor the poet, from 1964 onwards, on the 13th of June there’s a poetic manifestation `Racinovi sredbi` (Racin meetings). It includes scientific workers, writers, and literary critics from Macedonia and from all around the world.

In the centre of the town, on the right side of the River Vardar, over the houses which are erected by the river itself, dominates the Clock Tower, which was built towards the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. Sometimes, the tolling of the bell which marks the hours could be heard over the distance of 25km.



On the left side of the river, over the town, dominates the Memorial monument, which symbolizes the German helmet from World War II, decayed into four pieces. Inside the object a museum has been placed, in which exhibits and documents are displayed and they state the history of the town during World War II.

At the exit of the town, towards south, on the right side of the River Vardar, lies the monastery church St. Demetrius (Sv. Dimitrija), erected in the 14th century, and renovated in 1851. The fresco decoration of this church is a piece of work from the famous icon painter Hadji Kosta Krstov. It is a one-nave church with three-sided altar apse and a narthex over which the bell tower is erected.

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