Kruševo (Macedonian: Крушево, Aromanian: Crushuva) is a town in western North Macedonia. Its location at an elevation of 1,350 m (4,430 ft), among the highest in the Balkans, gives it a degree of isolation. Historic Kruševo was in 1903 the centre of the Ilinden Uprising against the Ottoman Empire that led to the formation of a republic that lasted only 10 days but is seen as the prelude to the modern Macedonian republic. Today, the main celebrations of the national holiday Ilinden, on the 2nd of August, are held in Kruševo to commemorate that struggle for independence.
Kruševo is also known as the centre of the Vlach (Aromanian) minority in North Macedonia, though they form only about 20% of the town's 5,330 residents as of the last census. Vlachs and the Mijak group of Macedonians that inhabit the town are historically known for their building skills, giving Kruševo a unique collection of architecture. Hidden up in the mountains between the woods, Kruševo has managed to preserve this genuine appeal. The town has the same layout as a century ago and a great deal of traditional houses and buildings are preserved, so it is a good place to admire and learn about traditional architecture. The town is also a winter skiing destination, with a ski lift running right above the town.
Kruševo is known for, more or less, four things. One is being situated at a high elevation. This usually makes it a colder place to be than elsewhere in North Macedonia and also makes it a great place for winter sports like skiing. It is also known for being the site of one of the first republics in the Balkans following the Ilinden Uprising. Multiple museums in the town are devoted to this history. Kruševo is also known for its architecture, the result of the building skills of Vlachs and Mijaks. Kruševo is also known for being the hometown of legendary musician Toše Proeski, who died in 2007 at the age of 26.
The town of Kruševo was first mentioned in 1467 in Ottoman tax registers when it was a small Slavic settlement. It did not become a city and trading centre until the late 18th century. This was catalysed by large settlement by Vlachs (Aromanians), as well as some Christian Albanians and Mijaks (a group of Macedonians from western Macedonia). The Vlachs helped transform Kruševo into an organised city and, along with the Mijaks, they built quality buildings with fascinating architecture that is still visible in Kruševo today. The growing town had Bulgarian, Greek, and Romanian schools operating. Kruševo's population at the turn of the 20th century was 9,350. Over half were Slavs, while most of the rest were Vlachs.
The events for which Kruševo is best known occurred in August of 1903. The Ilinden Uprising was carried out by the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization against the ruling Ottoman Empire. On August 2 (the feast day of St Elijah, Ilinden), the Kruševo Republic was proclaimed and local school teacher Nikola Karev was named its president. Karev had written the Kruševo Manifesto which called upon all inhabitants of Macedonia, regardless of ethnicity or religion, to fight for independence from the Ottoman Empire. The Republic managed to last just 10 days before being squashed by the Turks. Despite this, it is considered a prelude to the independence of modern Macedonian republic and noted for being the first ever republic in the Balkans.
Along with the rest of Vardar Macedonia, Kruševo became a part of Yugoslavia following the World Wars and, later, part of the Republic of Macedonia.
Kruševo has 5,330 residents as of the last census, virtually all of whom are Orthodox Christians. Ethnically, Macedonians form 80% of the population while Vlachs form 20%. Kruševo is the centre of Kruševo Municipality with a total population of 9,684, which consists of 18 villages in addition to the town. In addition to Macedonians and Vlachs, there are significant populations of Albanians and Turks in these villages, who are primarily Muslims.
Kruševo is traditionally divided into seven main neighbourhoods.
- Čaršija (Чаршија) - the centre of town
- Vlach Quarter (Влашко Маало)
- Strunga Quarter (Струнга Маало)
- Arnaut Quarter (Арнаут Маало) - Arnaut was a term used to refer to Albanians in Ottoman times. Despite the name of the quarter, Kruševo has no Albanian residents.
- Upper Quarter (Горно Маало)
- Mijak Quarter (Мијачко Маало)
- Gyspy Quarter (Ѓупско Маало) - Kruševo has no Roma (Gyspy) residents despite this quarter's name.
- 1 Bus Station (Автобуска станица).
As the highest town in North Macedonia, Kruševo isn't the easiest place to get to. Regardless of which road you take, it will involve much uphill driving along steep hills and cliffs, making it a tad scary for those with fears of heights. Potholes are also very common. Kruševo can be reached from three directions.
The town is small and pleasant for walking around and a walk through the woods to reach the monuments is recommendable. However, bring comfortable shoes as you will be walking uphill or downhill most of the time, regardless of where in town you are going.
The main road of Kruševo is called Toše Proeski Street (formerly Maršal Tito Street). It runs from road R1306 in the south and becomes road 517 as it passes through the city in the north.
- Kruševo architecture – As the city was started from scratch, the Vlachs were willing to invest and the Mijaks were excellent builders, in Kruševo a very interesting architecture has developed. The houses are freestanding, mostly symmetrical, without open spaces typical for other towns in North Macedonia. The back of the houses are built of stone, while the front of socalled “bondruk” construction of wooden columns and beams covered with white plaster. There is almost always a well in the ground floor. On the main facade usually there are painted decorations in blue colour. Blue is also usually used for the window frames and other details of the facades. On the upper floor there usually is a small balcony with a triangular pediment above it to put accent on the symmetry of the house.
- 1 Vršnik Cross (Крст на Вршник). North of town, this 10 m (33 ft) tall cross stands at a high elevation providing expansive 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The cross is illuminated at night and was constructed as part of the nearby Monastery of the Transfiguration, listed below.
- 2 Mečkin Kamen (Мечкин Камен). South of the town, near the paragliding site, a monument stands on the hill where revolutionary and Kruševo-native Pitu Guli was killed during the Battle of Mečkin Kamen. The monument is a large statue of a man holding a rock above his head.
- 3 Kruševo Cemetery (Крушевска гробишта) (Upper Quarter). Situated in the upper part of town near the Ilinden Monument and the Toše Proeski Memorial House, Kruševo's cemetery contains the final resting places of notable individuals. The two best-known are Pitu Guli, a revolutionary killed in the Ilinden Uprising, and Toše Proeski.
Kruševo is home to a number of significant churches from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Like the rest of the town's architecture, these churches often have a unique, visually-pleasing style.
- 4 Church of Saint Nicholas (Црква „Св. Никола“) (Čaršija). This church was built in 1905 on the site of an earlier church that was burned following the Ilinden Uprising. It is the cathedral of the town and it is situated in the old bazaar. The mostly white church has a tall central portion. The oldest frescoes on the interior date from 1884. It sits just east of the main road on Šula Mina Street.
- 5 Church of the Assumption (Црква „Успение на Пресвета Богородица“) (Mijak Quarter). This church was built of stone in 1867 and its frescoes were done in 1870. It suffered some damage during the Ilinden Uprising but was repaired. The roof slopes downward from the middle, where there is a dome. It also has an attached black bell tower which, along with the dome, makes up a defining feature of the town skyline.
- 6 Church of Saint John (Црква „Св. Јован“) (Čaršija). Known as the "Aromanian Church" (Basearica Armaneasca / Влашка црква). Construction on this church began in 1897 and was finished in 1904. The interior contains a large wooden iconostasis as well as frescoes and icons brought from an older church from 1627. It has two towers over the entrance and another dome over the centre.
- 7 Church of the Holy Trinity (Црква „Св. Троица“) (Gypsy Quarter). This church was built in 1881 in the outskirts of the town in the Gypsy neighbourhood. It saw some damage in the Ilinden Uprising but was repaired.
- 8 Monastery of the Transfiguartion (Црква „Св. Преображение“). This monastery, still undergoing some construction, was built with the help of Kruševo-native Toše Proeski. The monastery has one church, dedicated to the Transfiguration, which has a tall bell tower over the entrance. It sits north of the city, off the main road.
As a town with a great deal of history, Kruševo is home to multiple museums worth checking out.
- 9 Ilinden Monument (Makedonium; Споменик „Илинден“) (Upper Quarter). This very unique structure looks like something out of Star Wars. It opened in 1974 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Second Session of the Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia and the 71st anniversary of Ilinden Uprising. It is a sphere-shaped structure with several outstretched windows, some of which have stained glass windows. The inside contains historical pieces as well as the remains of Nikola Karev, president of the Kruševo Republic. It shouldn't take more than 20 minutes to see everything inside. 100 denars.
- 10 Toše Proeski Memorial House (Спомен-куќа на Тоше Проески) (Upper Quarter). Toše Proeski was a singer-songwriter popular across several countries, dubbed the "Elvis of the Balkans". Raised in Kruševo, he was a humanitarian and had also been helping construct the Transfiguration Monastery near Kruševo. He died tragically in a car accident in 2007 at the age of 26. The memorial house is located near the Ilinden Monument and is in the shape of a cross with modern architecture. Over 350 pieces are on display.
- 11 Nikola Martinovski Gallery (Галерија Мартиновски) (Strunga Quarter). Nikola Martinovski (1903-1973), one of the most important Macedonian contemporary painters, was born in Kruševo and donated 62 paintings to the town which are now exhibited in his birth house. The house itself is excellent example of Kruševo architecture and is worth exploring. A small ethnological museum has also been set up inside the house. Visiting the gallery gives you a chance to admire not just Martinovski's works, but also the beauty of Kruševo homes.
- 12 Museum of the Ilinden Uprising (Музеј на Илинденското востание) (Arnaut Quarter). This museum chronicles the uprising for which Kruševo is famous. It is located within an old house in which the Kruševo Republic was proclaimed. Through photographs, documents, maps, and weapons, the period before, during, and after the Ilinden Uprising is explained.
- 13 Museum of National Liberation War (Музеј на Народно-ослободителната војна) (Upper Quarter). East of the Ilinden Monument, this museum opened in 1988 and is dedicated to partisan leaders of Vardar Macedonia during World War II.
Kruševo's mountain location makes it suitable for many outdoor activities including biking, hiking, geocaching, and skiing.
- 1 Kruševo Hang Gliding & Paragliding. The site sits just off the main road south of town, towards Mečkin Kamen. There are posters all over town providing information about this. Paragliders and hang gliders can be seen floating above the town daily in summertime.
- 2 Kruševo Lake (Крушевско Езеро). This artificial reservoir is situated just northwest of the Ilinden Monument. Fishing is permitted year-round, except in June. It is also a good place to simply unwind.
Keep in mind that most shops are only open during the mornings and evenings.
- Souvenir shop, Gumenje.
- 1 Town Market (градски пазар), Cali Ilindenska (Center).
There are some pizzerias and restaurants in Krusevo.
- 'ШАПЕ' restaurant. If you would like to eat roast meat (skara), this restaurant is so good that some people say you haven't been to Krusevo unless you have eaten here.
- 'Андора' pizzeria.
Kruševo is also famous by the traditional dish - Kruševsko grne. Also try Kruševski lokum.
- 1 [dead link] Vila La Kola (Вила Ла Кола), Niko Doaga (ул. Нико Доага бр.) St, 21 (East 200 m from Kindergarten (градинка)), ☏ , , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 24/7. It offers: Double studios (equipped with cable TV, bathroom, terrace and mini bar) , quadruple bed apartments and five beds apartments (equipped with cable TV, DVD, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and terrace), free Wi-Fi , Common room, 24/7 available service and video surveillance.
- 2 [dead link] Casa La Kola (Каса Ла Кола), Niko Doaga (ул. Нико Доага бр.) St, 70 (East 100 m from Kindergarten (градинка)). Twin studios ((2 +1), equipped with TV, bathroom, hairdryer, mini safe and a kitchen), Triple rooms (equipped with TV, bathroom, hairdryer, mini safe, mini bar), free Wi-Fi , Common room, 24/7 available service and video surveillance.
- 3 Hotel Montana Palace, ☏ . The only four star hotel in Krusevo, with excellent restaurant. The view of Krusevo is breathtaking. Prices are lower than you might expect for such a hotel. There are directions to this hotel from most places in town. Dbl/tpl €32-52/32-70, apts €50-88.
- 4 VilaGora, Pitu GUli 53a, ☏ . Reasonable accommodation.
A cheap option is to rent a room in a home (300-450 denars per person), but be careful as conditions of such rooms are not on the proper level everywhere.
- [dead link] Ski Centar SKAUT Krusevo, Takja Berber 15b, ☏ . Official website of Ski Resort SKAUT in Krusevo.
Also in Krusevo there is Association for Development of Tourism and Hospitality, that can help you finding private apartments.
- Vila Gora, Pitu Guli 53a, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Apartments On Top, Todor Proeski, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Apartments Bubamara, Niko Doaga, ☏ .
- Apartments Kristi, Takja Berber br. 20, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Apartments "La Stabe", Koca Milenku, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Villa Toshe D, ul.Shula Mina b.b, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Apartments Vince, Takja Berber 18a, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 5 Villa “Medusa Temple", ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Villa Fila, ☏ .
- 6 Apartments Nikola, street Blago Celev 12, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 7 Stefani Apartments, ☏ .
- 2 Post Office (Pošta, пошта), Ulica Shula Mina (Opp. St. Nikola Church).
- Prilep. Just 33 km (20 mi) east of Kruševo, this city sits under the ruined fortress of King Marko's Towers. It is known throughout North Macedonia for its beer and traditional 'skara' (barbecue).
- Bitola. North Macedonia's second-largest city is 53 km (33 mi) south of Kruševo. It sits below Pelister National Park, near the border with Greece.