Mariovo (Macedonian Cyrillic: Мариово) is a mountainous region in southern Macedonia known for its traditional white costume. The area is somewhat large but since there has been no urban development in these spaces over the past century, the region contains no actual towns, only rustic villages.
Origin of the name Mariovo
It is said that Mariovo was named after the beautiful and brave girl Marija. The legend says that some turkish Pasha who has conquered the villages of Mariovo, has fallen in love with this girl and, enchanted by her beauty, was prepared to do everything to gain her love.
But Marija’s father was not approving on it, because his daughter was a Christian, and the Turk was a Muslim. The Pasha would not give up. Marija answered his persistence with one condition: she would become his wife, but the entire region, from the Poloski monastery, Selecka mountain, to the village by the name of Brod, then the Bitola region, the Nidze mountain and to the reach of Kozjak, to remain Christian and that not a single Turk should be inhabited there. The Pasha agreed to this condition, signed papers on that decision and took Marija with him.
He took her on the rood leading to the village of Dunje, Marija suddenly took the knife from her folds, and killed herself. Taking away her life, she did not surrender to the Pasha, who later, although he wanted to, could not annul the contract he previously signed.
By the power of this document, the guarantee that the entire region should remain Christian was respected. In the honor of the girl and her courageous act, the region was named Mariovo.
History of Mariovo
Mariovo area was inhabited since antiquity and was also part of ancient Macedonia, as testified by the remains of many forts and discovered shields and other objects of antiquity. In the area of Mariovo in 1564/65 year occurred the famous Mariovо Riot which was the first form of mass resistance of Macedonian people against the Ottoman rule triggered by the illegal taxes and unbearable living conditions, and later in 1688/89 was raised another Mariovo Riot under impact of Karposh’s Uprising. Mariovo was one of the few areas in which, for the whole rule of the Turks, there were no processes of Islamization and colonization of Turkish and Muslim population. During the Turkish rule, particularly in the early period, Mariovo was special administrative unit “Hass” (similar to today’s term autonomous province) which has paid a certain amount of money to the Sultan and in return residents were not subjects of the Bey and were not aimed of their harassment and abuse. At the end of Ottoman rule, in the famous Ilinden period Duke Shakir from Mariovo led of fighting with the Turkish army, as commander of the Regional area. Mariovo always was true for a restless and rebellious Macedonian region not only to Turkish authorities, but also for all further occupation authorities.
Geography of Mariovo
Mariovo is mountain region in southern part of Republic of Macedonia (or the middle of ethnic Macedonia) situated between the slopes of Selechka Mountain, Nidze, Kozjak and Babuna Mountain in the valley of the Crna River. Across the whole area of Mariovo Crna Reka flows (middle flow) where actually is located the longest gorge in Macedonia, 100 km long Skochivir’s Gorge which is also one of the precious natural beauties of this area. At west Mariovo is bordered by Pelagonija, on the south by Greece (vicinity of the city Voden and Meglen area), on the north by Raec (Raec’s River valley) and at east Vitachevo Plateau or Tikvesh’s Valley.
The whole area of Mariovo covers an area of 1251 km ² and is divided into 3 smaller (ethno) geographic units surroundings Bitola’s Mariovo (former municipality Staravina, now part od Novaci Municipality), Prilep’s Mariovo (former municipality Vitolishte) and Tikvesh’s (Kavadarci’s) Mariovo (western and central parts of the former municipality Konopishte ).
Besides the above three sub – areas of Mariovo, people that lives in Mariovo by downstream of the Crna River area dividing Mariovo to small (left side of the river) and old (large) Mariovo (right side of the river).
Villages in Mariovo
Bitola’s Mariovo: Staravina, Makovo, Rapesh, Zovikj, Gradeshnica, Budimirci, Grunishte, Orle, Brnik, Iveni and Petalino.
Prilep’s Mariovo: Vitolishte, Beshishte, Veprchani, Vrpsko, Dunje, Zhivovo (the folk language: Zhiovo), Kalen, Kokre, Krushevica, Manastir, Polchishte, Peshtani, Chanishte and Gugjakovo (the folk language Gudjakovo).
Tikvesh’s Mariovo: Rozhden, Klinovo, R’zhanovo, Majden and Galishte.
The Turkish census “defter’s” of XIV and XV century (1476/77 to 1544/45 year) were observed in Mariovo following villages that do not exist today, but there are locality with their names or similar names the then villages: Kostenovo, Chumagovo (today there locality Smagovo) Vidrishani (Vidishani) Crnichani, Satoka (from this village was the first leader of the Mariovo Riot) Bistrenci, Berani, Sudenec, Osinec, Kirilikovo, St. Petka, Leskovo.
Demographics of Mariovo
Astonishingly for the Mariovo is that in just 40 years the population and birth rate (natality) is reduced several times due to the huge rate of migration of its citizens in Bitola, Prilep, Skopje and overseas. In the census of 1948 Mariovo had the highest rate of birth in former Yugoslavia with 41.8 promils, and for the past few years to be recorded births to only 3 children.
The population in Mariovo has always been Macedonian and with Orthodox Christian religion, even during the Ottoman Empire. For the reasons why the Mariovo was spared from Islamisation is associated legend for the name of Mariovo. Mariovo residents as an integral part of the Macedonian nation were mentioned by Gjorgjija Puleski in his book of history.
Mariovo is today almost completely deserted. According to the last census in 2002 Mariovo has 839 residents, most of which are Macedonians. Among the stones that make company to the large and fertile plains, among the many markings and directions that point the way to a temple of God or a shrine that once existed here, from time to time a fireplace can be observed, a house once in a while, the home to the most persistent who, besides everything, could not resist the extraordinary attractiveness of this picturesque region.
And amid these fairly devastated houses from which the curious and a bit puzzled eyes of the shepherds greet you, in one of the old villages, Manastirec, a real surprise awaits you. Among the fragile buildings and unmentioned yards, almost in the center of the village, there is the opulent basilica, the monastery church St. Nikola, an elegant beauty that reminds of the past times of wealth and well-being.
Surrounded by the mountains of Selechka, Nidze, Kozjak, and Babuna, the region of Mariovo is one of the most interesting and most inaccessible areas in Macedonia. Its morphological features include barren and dry hills, deep stone river gorges, but also magnificent woodland areas in the higher regions of the mountains of Nidze, Kozjak, and Babuna.
In Vitolishta, Dunje, Staravina, and other villages, the ambiance depicts the scenes and pictures of another, ancient time. Wild and cruel, yet quite picturesque, Mariovo land awakens interesting, pleasant, and mystic feelings in all who visit it.