Marko's Towers or Markovi Kuli (Маркови Кули)

Marko's Towers


Location: near Prilep, village of Varoš Map

Constructed: late 13th century


Marko's Towers or Markovi Kuli is situated near a town of Prilep above a village of Varoš in the Republic of Macedonia. It was constructed in the late 13th century. However a settlement of Keramija have been known to exist here since the Ancient Roman times. Marble ornaments of an early Christian basilica is little that remains from the antiquity. Topography of the terrain offered natural protection for the citadel that housed palace of Serbian King Vukašin and his son Marko whose name gave these imposing ruins its name. A small garrison could easily protect the fortress against enemy troops. However huge Ottoman Turkish army managed to take the citadel in 1395. It was badly damaged and eventually abandoned. It was left abandoned and in ruins.


Location and boundaries
The eastern border of the Markovi Kuli site starts from the locality G. Chair. From here the border extends in a northeast direction along the eastern slopes of the Kukul heap (980 m), along the asphalt road that leads to Prilep Lake. At the lake, the border changes direction and climbs the eastern slopes of the Glavica heap (1,033 m), then leads along the southwestern slopes of the locality Ridon and the eastern parts of the ridge Edinak (1,303 m) and erupts at the locality Samarnica. From here the border descends along the eastern slopes of the Surun heap (1,077 M) and ends on the road that connects the villages of Dupjacani and Nebregovo.

The western border starts at the village of Zabrcani and extends to the south, then to the southwest towards the village of Malo Mramorani, where it leads along the western slopes of the Negrea hill (988 m). From here the border extends to the southeast and leads along the southern slopes of the Negrea hill, then along the southwestern slopes of the Zagradski Steni hill (976 m), along the western slopes of Zelenik (983 m) and Markovi Kuli (945 m) and ends on the southern slopes of the heap of Markovi Kuli above the locality of Varosh.

The northern border starts from the road that connects the villages Dupjacani and Nebregovo, about 500 meters east of the village. Nebregovo. From here it leads west on the road to the village. Dupjacani and about one kilometer in front of the village turns south and leads to the locality Orlov Kamen. From here the border turns slightly to the north, then turns sharply to the southeast and extends along the southwestern slopes of the Surun heap to Gorno Selo. From here the border changes direction and leads west along the northern slopes of the heap Zlatovrv (1,422 m) all the way to the locality Virila. From here the border extends to the northwest and leads along the eastern slopes of the Negrea hill to end at the village of Zabrcani.

The southern border starts at the locality of Varosh and extends to the northeast along the eastern slopes of the Markovi Kuli and Zalenik heights, bypassing the Sredno Pole plain, to continue leading along the western slopes of the Kukul heap and ending at the locality of G. Chair, on the southern slopes of the Kukul heap.

Archaeological sites

The archeological complex Markovi Kuli is a fortified city with an acropolis in which several buildings of residential and commercial character have been discovered, and in its western and southwestern foothills the undefined medieval settlement of Varosh has developed. In several campaigns, research has been done on several points in the city, suburbs, necropolises and sacred buildings, and a continuous life has been established from × to the end of the XIV century. The name of the medieval city of Prilep was transferred to the settlement at a distance of several kilometers from the place where the city originally lay. Today, the remains of the former medieval city are located at the site of Markovi Kuli and in the suburb of Varosh, which actually originates from the Prilep suburb. The medieval city was built on a hill that dominates the landscape and that near the settlement Varosh descends steeply into the field. That elevation is made up of many broken and smoothed stone mounds of miraculous shapes and colors. Where nature did not close the access points, man built high walls and massive towers and thus made a fortress difficult to conquer. The most fortified part of medieval Prilep, the upper city, was raised to the highest point. Houses, churches, and other structures were built under that eagle's seat, on city terraces, and on other surfaces. The oldest traces of human life in the area of ​​medieval Prilep belong to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Remains of a settlement from the Iron Age were found in the same area. The further settlement of these areas can be traced throughout the later archaic and ancient period. The wanderings of the barbarian Slavic tribes ended with the settlement of the Brsjaci tribe in the fertile plain of Pelagonija. From the 7th to the 9th century, Macedonia was the scene of wars between Byzantium and the Bulgarian Empire for domination of that territory, with variable results and periodic upheavals in favor of one of the rivals. It is difficult to say whether the Prilep fortress functioned in those days. Concrete materials from that time are missing. Here, in fact, we come to the unusually important issue related to the beginnings of the medieval fortress. From this period are the two monolithic stone pillars of the porch of the church in the monastery "St. Archangel Michael ”in Varos. On one of them is engraved the second oldest Slavic inscription in Cyrillic letters from 996, and it refers to Bishop Andreja. It is quite short and stereotypical in content, but still very important because it testifies to the written activity in these territories in the earliest period of Slavic literacy. Before that, in 1385 during the reign of Sultan Murat I (1362-1389) Prilep falls under Turkish rule. With the death of King Marko, the medieval history of Prilep ends. Before that, in 1385 during the reign of Sultan Murat I (1362-1389) Prilep fell under Turkish rule. With the death of King Marko, the medieval history of Prilep ends.


Cultural programs
Mark's Towers are also a great inspiration to many directors who have been looking for a suitable location for their work. Thus, the following films were shot on Markovi Kuli: - "Before the rain" - directed by Milcho Manchevski. - "Goodbye to the 20th century" - directed by Darko Mitrevski and Aleksandar Popovski. - "Dust" - directed by Milcho Manchevski and many other films.

The elephant
Also at the site of the Mark Towers is the Elephant (which to some resembled a stork) which is composed of two naturally joined rocks. The elephant is 8 meters high and from it Prilep can be seen as a palm. There are several beliefs that the Elephant was used in religious rites of the ancestors, and indicators of this are the ocular tombs and the visible remains of the frescoes that are severely damaged. The Marko Towers and the Varosh settlement with 77 churches, together with the natural rarities, are insufficiently shown natural gifts and artifacts with a predisposition for a tourist destination.

Manifestations that are held
The Mark Towers also host several events, including:
Bleeding marathon in which many participants from France, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Bulgaria and others participate.
Poetic Markukule, which every year takes on a growing momentum and more participants, in which besides Macedonian participants there are also from Slovenia.
Krali Marko Ultra Trail is a new race in Macedonia which since 2012 enters the world trend of this type of racing in our country. It takes place on the slopes and mountains around the city of Prilep with a length of about 60 km.

King Marko

King Marko (c. 1335 - May 17, 1395) was the last king to rule much of Macedonia before the centuries-old rule of the Turkish sultans and became the most famous hero of epic folklore not only to the Macedonians but also beyond. Marko's kingdom is centered in Macedonia with Prilep as its capital and is therefore considered a Macedonian king. King Marko was one of the four sons of King Volkashin and his wife Eurosima (Elena). Apart from the brothers Andreas, Ivanish and Dimitri, Marko also had sisters: Olivera, Milica, and in the oral traditions Marija, Ugra, Kita, Zvezda, Deva, Vida, Ugra, Shaina and Beda are mentioned. He had two wives, Elena and Theodora, but it is not known if he had an heir. There is no reliable information about the origin of the Mrnjavcevci dynasty because modern written sources do not provide data. The oldest data about this family is given by the Dubrovnik writer Mavro Orbini from the 17th century. According to him, they came from Livno in Herzegovina from the poor ruler Mrnjava, whom Dusan (tsar, 1346-1355) called to his court and raised him very high. Based on this writing of Orbini, the surname Mrnjavchev was accepted for this family and as such it has long been established in the literature. During the reign of his father, Mark had the title of "young king", ie heir to the throne. In the Battle of Maritsa in 1371, Marko did not take part in the battle, but remained to rule the territory of the lands of his father and uncle. After her and after the death of the Mrnjavcevi brothers, he became king and formally and legally co-ruler of Tsar Uros. According to some scholars, he is the only legitimate king of the Kingdom, after the death of Uros and the demise of the Nemanjici dynasty. But King Marko's rule faced constant pressure, both from Serbian nobles and from the Turks, who increasingly ruled the Balkans. Soon some territories were taken from him by Prince Lazar, Nikola Altomanovic, Balsa and the Turks. It was a time when many of the rulers made peace with the Ottomans, becoming their vassals. Thus Marko acknowledged the supremacy of Murat I, pledged to pay taxes and serve in the Turkish army in its military campaigns. There are various assumptions about the year when King Marko became a Turkish vassal. Some believe that this happened in 1371, immediately after the Battle of Maritsa, but there are records that tell of Turkish sieges of Prilep and Bitola in 1385, which defines the Kingdom of Mark as an independent territory in relation to the Turkish state. It is interesting to note that despite the Turkish vassalship, King Marko rose to the level of a legendary national hero, under whose rule the people felt protected and calmer than the neighboring nations. Muzafer Tufan in "King Marko in some Turkish sources" explains that this is due to: "the fact that he managed to preserve internal autonomy for the longest time and the fact that he achieved it on the basis of his tact, state wisdom and readiness to ally, even "and at the cost of self-sacrifice, in order to survive longer and preserve the internal autonomy and cooperation of the Balkans." On May 17, 1395 at the Battle of Rovine, siding with Turkish Sultan Bayezid I and fighting the Vlach Duke John Mirce, King Marko was killed, provoking a series of speculations as to how exactly this happened and where his dead body was buried. According to Mavro Orbini, King Marko lost the battle against Mirca near Kraljevo, and then fled to a forest where, by mistake, he was killed by a Vlach who thought he was a beast. His body was buried near Skopje, in the monastery Blachani. Other scholars believe that the marble slab on the wall of the dining room in the Markov Monastery indicates that his tomb is located at this very spot. None of these theories has yet been confirmed by science. The legend says that just before the battle, the despot of the Kumanovo-Kratovo area Konstantin Dejanov, who also fought on the side of the Ottomans and died in the battle, Marko said the following words: "I ask God to help the Christians, and I "to be the first to die in that fight."