Geographic Position and Population
The Debar-Reka region is located in North-Western Macedonia and administratively belongs to two municipalities: Debar and Mavrovo and Rostusha. The western border of the region is the administrative border with Albania; at north it borders the Municipality of Gostivar; at east the Municipality of Zajas and Drugovo, while at south with the Municipality of Centar Zhupa.
The Municipality of Debar
has a surface of 145.67 km2, while the Municipality of Mavrovo and Rostusha
covers 663.19 km2, thus being one of the largest municipalities in Republic of Macedonia.
According to the last census in 2002, the Municipality of Debar
has population of 19.542 residents, inhabited in 17 rural and 1 urban settlement, while the Municipality of Mavrovo and Rostusha
has 8.618 residents inhabited in 45 rural settlements. The population has a multi-ethnical structure compound of: Macedonians, Albanians, Turks and other nationalities.
Within the frames of the Municipality of Debar
there are 19 settlements of which 14 still exist, while 5 villages are completely displaced (Bomovo, Konjari, Taranik, Sushice, Spas). The central place and see of the municipality is the town of Debar, while the remaining settled places are the villages: Banjishte, Gorno Kosovrasti, Dolno Kosovrasti, Krivci, Otishani, Rajchica, Selokukji, Tatar Elevci, Hame, Mogorche, Dzepishte, Osoj and Gari.
The town of Debar is at an altitude of 630 – 100 meters.
The Municipality of Mavrovo and Rostusha
represents an exclusively rural environment with 42 setteled places: Adzievci, Belichica, Bibaj, Bitushe, Bogdevo, Boletin, Velebrdo, Volkovija, Vidushe, Vrben, Vrbjani, Galichnik, Grekaj, Duf, Zhirovnica, Zsuzsje, Janche, Kichinica, Krakornica, Leunovo, Lazaropole, Mavrovi Anovi, Mavrovo, Nivishte, Nikiforovo, Nistrovo, Nichpur, Novo Selo, Orkjushe, Prisojnica, Rosoki, Rostusha, Ribnica, Selce, Sence, Skudrinje, Sretkovo, Sushica, Tanushe, Trebishte, Tresonche and Cerovo. The centre of the Municipality is the village of Rostusha.
Relief and Hydrography
The territory of the Municipality of Debar
is composed of Debar Field between the slopes of mountain Deshat, the Debar Lake and the valley of the river Crn Drim. On the territory of the Municipality of Debar is the only gypsum relief in the Republic, while within its frames also emerge the thermo-mineral springs in the villages of Banjishte and Kosovrasti, which are known as spa-centres. The structure of the hydrography is composed of the lower parts of the river basins of Radika and Crn Drim, whose waters form the Debar Lake.
The Municipality of Mavrovo and Rostusha
has a distinctively mountaneus features and is almost completely within the frames of the National Park “Mavrovo”. The National Park “Mavrovo” includes 36 rural settlements placed inside four local historical landscapes. The Mavrovo Valley, placed between the mountains of Bistra and Vlajnica and Gorna Reka, untill its immersion in 1953, was known as the Mavrovo Field. The upper flow of Radika is known as Gorna Radika for centuries, while the lower one is called Dolna Reka. The landscape around Mala Reka, the main left affluent of Radika, is called Mala Reka. The National Park “Mavrovo” spreads over the south branches of Shar Planina, part of the range Korab and the mountain Bistra bordering the basin of Radika.
Unlike the mountaneous area around the upper flow of Radika, its lower flow is characterised by a distinguishing valley relief. All valleys have a gorge form, including the valley of Radika. The valley of Radika is cut into several geologic formations, while its most typical, almost canyonc part is in the gorge Barich.
The lowest point of the park is at 600 meters altitude, at the watershed of Mala Reka into Radika at Boshkov Bridge. The highest point is the peak of mountain Korab (Golem Korab) at 2.764 meters altitude, which is also the highest mountain peak in Republic of Macedonia. Within the National Park “Mavrovo” there are 52 mountain peaks higher than 2.000 meters altitude.
As a result of the tectonic movements and the carstic erosions, a vast number of depresions over the river basins were created: Tonivoda, Govedarnik, Bardash, Sultanica Lazaropole etc. Among the geomorphologic phenomena a significant place belongs to the glacial forms. They appear in the higher parts of Korab and Bistra, cirques and moraines, while the huge glacial cirque at the spring of Dlaboka Reka appears as most attractive.
The hydrography of the park is quite developed and represented by the river Radika and its affluents (Adzina Reka, Mala Reka, Tresonechka Reka, Ribnichka Reka, Dlaboka Reka etc.). The waters of the National Park “Mavrovo” belong to two basins: the Adriatic – through the river Radika and Debar Lake and the Aegean – through the river Vardar and Mavrovo Lake. Gorna Radika is only 8 kilometers long and with the artificial bifurcation it belongs to the Aegean basin, while Dolna Radika with its affluents is a part of the Adriatic basin.
The Debar Valley has a soft mediteranean climate during the summer and a mountain one during the winter months.
The area of the National Park “Mavrovo” can be divided into three climate sites:
- Local warmer climate under the influence of the coastal climate which penetrates along the valley of the river Drim in the valley of Radika, all the way to its appearance in the compound of Shitrovica and Adzina Reka, into Mala Reka to Rosoki and into Ribnica till Tanushe and Trnica.
- Colder forest-mountaneous climate in Mavrovo Valley and the entire zone of teakwood and coniferous woods, from the upper limit of forest vegetation until the lower zone of mountaneous pastures. Western winds with 0.7 – 10 m/sec. speed are developing course in this area. The average relative humidity is 81%, while the temperature is from -23.4°C during the winter, till 30.9° C during the summer period.
- Alpine climate which covers the highest mountaneous zone, mainly over 2.000 meters altitude in the shpere of glacial erosion and in the gathering springs of the rivers.
On the territory of the Municipality of Debar
exist the thermo-mineral springs located in the villages of Kosovrasti and Banjishte. The temperatute of the mineral water is 40°C, with yield of 70 l/sec.
The most significant natural heritage of this municipality is the gypsum cave Alchija, a protected area of the catheggory natural monument. Its clearly transparent cristals have a distinguishing length reaching 7 meters, which gives an extraordinary beauty to the cave. The site is ca 4 km east of Debar, near the village of Rajchica. With an uncontrolled exploitation of gypsum, as well as the modern crystal export programmes, it is endangered as a geological site.
On the territory of the Municipality of Mavrovo and Rostusha,
due to the extraordinary natural threasures, the historical and scientific significance of the forests and forestry landscapes around Mavrovo Field, in 1949 the National Park “Mavrovo” was established, covering a surface of 117.50 km2. In 1952 its borders were spread and at present it covers 730.88 km2.
This is the biggest national park in Republic of Macedonia and its borders cover the mountains Korab (including the highest peak Golem Korab – 2.764 meters altitude), Deshat and Bistra, the southern part of Shar Planina and part of the canyon of the river Radika. Its distinguishing features are the relief, flora, fauna and the numerous rivers.
One of the most interesting phenomena created by the carstic erosion in the park, are the carstic fileds and caves on the mountain Bistra and in the gorge of Radika. The most beautiful cave in the park is the cave Alilica, placed in the valley of Tresonechka Reka.
The National Park “Mavrovo” is abundant with diferent kinds of streams and it is especially rich with waterfalls, which, unfortunately, are unexplored and not familiar enough. In the area of the park appear 14 permanent glacial lakes, the lowest and largest being the lake Lokuv at Deshat, lying at 1.565 meters altitude, while the highest one lies below the peak Golem Korab at an altitude of 2.470 meters.
Apart from the National Park “Mavrovo”, the pilot territory also offers several zones recognised as special natural threasures, such as: the cave Alilica, the cave Sharkova Dupka, the Projfel Waterfall and the Duf Waterfal.
The region`s flora
is especially abundant and comprises of over 1.000 plant species. The number of endemic and relict species is quite significant, although one of the most significant could be Narthecuim scardicum,
an extremly rare herb, found only in the highest peaks of Shar Planina. Mavrovo also has numerous endemic types of threes, including Pinus peuce
and Sempervivum macedonicum.
One of the main features of the National Park “Mavrovo” is the abundant fauna
comprised of ca 140 bird species and over 45 vertebra species, while the waters of Mavrovo Lake, especially the river Radika, are filled with fish, where the most significat endemic specie is the Radika trout. Inside the National Park “Mavrovo” ca 82 species are protected, from which 18 belong to the class of mammals, while 64 to the class of birds. The presence of the diferent kinds of fauna is variable. Among the permanently protected species the most significant for the National Park appear to be the Grey Falcon (Falco Peregrinus), Falco Subuteo L., Falco naumanni Fisci., Cirectus Galicus GM., Bubo bubo, Asio otus L., Ciconia L.
and many others.
The mammal genus in the National Park is represented by the Wild Goat (Rupicapra rupicapra
), the deer (Capreolus capreolus
), bear (Ursus Arctos L.
), otter (Lutra lutra l.,
), golden marten (Mustaela Martes L.
), the squirl (Scirius vulgarius L.
) and many other. One of the most specific endemic species of this region is the lynx (Lynx balcanicus
), which is present in small numbers in the higher forested areas of Jakupica, Bistra and Korab.
The cultural heritage of the Municipality of Debar
is abundant with representative objects of all kinds, marked by high artistic achievments.
The oldest sacral object of the Orthodox tradition is the Chruch devoted to St. Varvara
in the village of Rajchica, from 1597.
The monastery complex with the monastery Church devoted to St. George Pobedonosec
(Victorious) (1835), in the vicinity of the village Rajchica is especially interesting. The marvelously preserved interior of the temple represents a treasury of superior pictorial acomplishments.
The oldest Islamic sacral object in Debar is the Hjunker Mosque,
originating from the second half of 15th century, although it was radically renewed during the 50`s of 20th century, thus loosing part of its monumental values.
The secular objects represent a significant in number and important in meaning part of the cultural heritage of the region. The urban structure of Debar covers several monumental objects from diferent periods of the historical development of the town. The Old Hamam,
originating from 16th century and the New Hamam,
build during the later periods, bear the characteristics of the clasical building traditions of this type of objects.
The most representative are the houses belonging to the traditional architecture of 19th century. The Debar`s lodgings have a simple functional organisation, with exquisit harmony in the spatial shaping, with a strong and symetrical main facade, whose central part is accentuated by overhanged balcons. The interior of these houses is richly decorated by carved ceilings and integrated furniture.
On the south-western slopes of the mountain Stogovo lies the vilage Gari with a status of protected monumental unit. Build at 1.100 meters altitude with amphitheatrical disposition toward the river Garska Reka, with preserved architecture typical for the Mijachka
building tradition, Gari is one of the most beautiful villages in Macedonia. The distinctiveness of this architecture comes from the climatic conditions of the region, the local topographic features and the accentuated usage of the local building material.
In the region of the Municipality of Debar, near the village of Selokukji, the Late Antique archaeological site of Taranesh is located, which gave an exquisitly significant and rare find of a Vas Diatretum glass. So far only eight examples of these luxurious objects were discovered in the world. The example from Taranesh belongs to the e.g. “Great Cologne type” with three zones of decoration – inscription, collar and network. This find, dated in the 4th century AD, is the first and only example of this type in Republic of Macedonia and third in the Balkan.
Among the abundant luxurious finds from the same grave at the site of Taranesh, the crossbow fibula with an inscription in niello could also be pointed out as a remarcable find.
Several archaeological sites have been mapped in the territory of the Municipalitu of Debar, although none of them were ever systhematically excavated and explored.
On the territory of the Municipality of Mavrovo and Rostusha
there is an especially abundant and diverse cultural heritage. The most famous is the Monastery of John Bigorski
with a Monastery Church devoted to St. John the Baptist.
The monatery was renewed in 1743 over the foundations of an older building. Architectonically, this monastery has all the features of an object from 18th century, the typical unity of the style and conceptions of the Orthodox spirituality, intertwined with the Byzantine traditions, the baroque and renaissance stylistic elements, as well as the influence of the Orient.
The iconostasis of the Monastery St. John Bigorski represents a monumental carved master-piece of the wood-carvers from the Mijachki
region. Authros of this work of art were Petre Filipovski – Garkata and Makarie Frchkovski from the village Galichnik with their crew.
Several village churches, such as: Sts. Peter and Paul
and St. Nicolas
in Tresonche and the Church of St. Elias
in the village Selce, also have a cultural heritage status.
Within the borders of the National Park “Mavrovo” are the monumental rural unis of Kichinica and Galichnik.
The houses are of a closed type, with a spatial organisation composed of numerous solutions, thus representing a typical example of a mountaneous house, build and covered exclusevelly of local materials. Regarding the construction, the outlets are but a mere attempt for better spatial and shaping solutions, while the lodge, a typical element of the Macedonian traditional architecture, is closed.
The most common type is the house-tower, especially in Gorna Reka, created as a result of the need for defence during the restless period of 19th century. Preserved houses with characteristics of the traditional architecture also appear in the villages Tresonche, Lazaropole, Janche and the remaining villages of the Mijachki
Municipality of Debar
The Debar Lake with a surface of 13.2 km2 and a total accumulation intake of 520.000.000 m3 water is used for the production of 300.000.000 kWh water, while part of the water is also used for irrigation of Debar Field.
The overall agrarian surface of the Municipality of Debar is 7.708 ha, where the arrable land takes 2.578 ha or 33.4%, the pastures take 1.697 ha or 22.0%, while the forests take 3.433 ha or 44.6%. Respectively, this municipality has difficult conditions for the development of the agriculture due to the small surface, although the lowland villages offer some possibilities for agricultural activities.
The industry represented the main generator of the commercial development processes of the municipality. However, as a result of the transitional processes of the Republic, this industrial branch lost in intensity, due to which several factories were closed or operate in difficult conditions. At present the main commercial stakeholders are AD “Knauf-Radika” (for gypsum manufactured goods); AD “Deplast” (for plastic manufactured goods); the textile factory “Novost”; HEC “Shpilje” (hydropower plant).
In the sphere of the tourism the municipality has developed spa-tourism whose main promoter is ZPO “Debarski Banji” (Debar Spas) with over 150 staff and capacity of 700 accomodations in the hotels in the villages Kosovrasti and Banjishte and the Hotel “Venec” in Debar. The thermo-mineral waters are famous and can be ranked among the most famous healing spa waters in Europe, as well as globaly, since they are used in different terapies. As a result of the favorable geographical position of these spas, with 600 meters altitude (village Kosovrasti near the Debar Lake), i.e. 900 meters altitude (village Banjishte), there are real possibilities for the development of the lake and mountaneous tourism.
Municipality of Mavrovo and Rostusha
The Mavrovo Lake represents an artificial accumulation of the waters of the rivers Mavrovska, Nikiforovska and Leunovska, as well as of the upper flow of Radika and Belichka River. It has a surface of 13.7 km2 and a total accumulation of 274.000.000,8 m3 water, used for the annual output of 390.000.000 kWh electrical energy in the hydropower plants “Raven”, “Vrben” and “Vrutok”. Apart from the elecro-commercial significance, the Mavrovo Lake is also used for irrigation of the agricultural surfaces in the area Goren Polog, after the exiting of the hydropower plant “Vrutok”, while it also serves for fishing and tourism development.
For a longer period ca 30 hotels and restourants, the ski-centre “Mavrovo” and several smaller cattering facilities opperate in this municipality, which offer great potential for development of all types of tourism related to the exraordinary natural favourables.
The villages along the valley of Radika have several construction businesses with a smaller number of staff, as well as a dozen of commercial facilities with one employee. The total of commercial facilities in the municipality is 144.
On the territory of the municipality there are very favourabble conditions for the development of cattle-breeding, which actually represented a main commercial activity in the past, as well as for production of organic food, fishing and forestry.