Saturday, January 17, 2009

History of Stip

Stip was the largest cultural and trade center in eastern Macedonia since ancient times. Some historians says that Stip was formed in 2500 year B.C. Firstly it was a small town that with small nubmer of houses beneath the forest Isar. Historians believe that Stip was founded from the people that leaved nearby anciant city Bargala. Bargala was ancient city of closed type, surrounded by walls and this people built Astibo, that was first town of open type. Houses were built arount the hill Isar, and in the time of danger and wars, people were hidding in the forest on the top of the hill. Town was called Astibo while it was in jurisdiction of Paeonia. Paeonia was that time state which in the north from Macedonia. It is beleaved that the border with Ancient Macedonia was on the south, somewhere nearby ancient city Stobi. Astibo was important place because it layed on the crossroad to south and further east travelling.

There are some historical beleives, that Alexander Macedonian on the road to middle East, has visited and stayed a little in Stip.

In the time of Roman impery, they changed the name of the city. The roman name of Stip is Stipion. Stipion was still the cultural center of the Eastern Macedonia, but it was still a small town with few houses on the easter side of Isar hill.

Stip started to grow while it was under the Ottoman impery. It is important that Ottomans Turks change the name of the town again. They called it Ishtip. The documents of that time, were the first writen documents about the structure of the town and its parts, which Otomant called them - maala. According to that documents, there was Macedonian maala beneath the Isar and Tuzlia, Jewish maala beneath the Macedonian and close to river Otinja, and Turkish maala on the oposite side of the River near the Mosque, that still exsists in Stip. It is important to say that Ottoman Turks built their maala separately, with no connection to other maala. Later western from the first turkish maala, were built other two maala, which were not conneced each other also. Every turkish maala had its own Mosque. One of that Mosque in the newest Turkish maala, Husamedin Pasha Mosque still stays unfinised.

There are not trusted written documents about popularity in Stip since 1790s. First documents of that time described Stip with popularity of 3000 to 4000. Seems that Stip had rapid grow later on, because in the documents from 1900 is written that Stip had 20.900 citizens, 10.900 Macedonians, 8.700 Turks, 800 Jews and 500 Roma.

School in Novo Selo

In the yard of the church Sv Bogorodica in Novo Selo there is a school where revolutionary Goce Delcev used to teach. Next to it is the house where the revolutionary lived. Today it is privately owned, but restored in authentic style. The church has a hiding place where Goce Delcev used to hide. In the walls of the church there are two more hiding places where 30 other men used to hide. There was a tunnel under the throne of the archbishop that led from the church to the houses in the village. This is how they escaped from the Turks.

Isar Fortress

Between the two rivers, 150 meters high on the rocky hill over the town, the Stip Fortress, or better known as the Isar stands guard.

People say that the fortress was built by King Marko, while his sister Maria was building a road and bridge through the canyon so that the people could cross the Bregalnica River. Even though she advised her brother to build things that would be useful to the people instead of a fortress that will exist only during his life time, King Marko was stubborn and built the fortress. The prediction of the clever Maria came true; the fortress was of short duration. For a long time after that, the people spoke of Maria’s good deed, singing a song whenever they passed the road through the canyon that she built, while the fortress of King Marko was soon in ruins.

The exact time of the construction of the fortress is unknown. It can only be said that it dates from the early Middle Ages, having all the characteristics of medieval art. Located high above, it guarded the town of Stip in the state of Czar Samoil. In the 13th Century the fortress was under Bulgarian administration and after that under the Serbian ruler Stefan Decanski. In 1382 it was conquered by the Turks. After firearms were invented, the fortress was deserted. Some of the building material of the fortress was from the ancient town of Astibo

Sv. Jovan Krstitel, 14th century

On the right bank of the river Otinja, on the south side of the hill where the "Isar" is located, a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist was built in 1350.

Sv. Jovan Krstitel, 14th century

It is a single-room church with no cupola. Its construction was supported by Jovan Probistipovic, Despot Oliver’s landowner. Today only fragments remain from the fresco paintings. The paintings of Czar Konstantin and Czarina Elena can be seen on the south wall around the entrance.

The church St. Nikola, village of Krupiste

At the north-eastern exit of the village of Krupiste, beneath the Stip-Kocani road, on the right bank of river Bregalnica, there is a medieval church dedicated to saint St.Nikola, and remains of a an old-Christian basilica were discovered underneath it.

St.Nikola’s church is a construction of modest dimensions, made of broken stone of unequal size and built-in elements of early Christian sculpture with encrypted signs and letters. It is a single nave church, with rounded arch and semi-circular apse on the outside. The entrance is on its west side.

Two inscriptions are preserved in the church. The first one reads that the church was built during the reign of bishop Makarie in 1625, and fresco-painted in 1627, while the second one mentions the name of master Isaija Debreli, who in 1880, when it is presumed that the porch of the church with semi-circled arch has been built, painted it and made certain interventions over the frescos of the naos. People wearing modern national costumes are noticeable in the fresco paintings of the porch, produced by this fresco-artist.

According to later research and conclusions by Blaga Aleksova, the origins of the church have been located in the time period between the 9th and the 10th century, and in 1975, during the latest excavations, it was discovered that the church was built on the foundations of an old-Christian three-nave basilica with the following dimensions: length of 16m and width of 14.9m.

St. Gorgi, Gorni Kozjak

The medieval church of St.George has been raised at the location where, according to some scientific assumptions, the settlement called Kozjak previously existed, around ten kilometers south-east of the city of Shtip, at the locality of Gorni Kozjak and near to the archeological locality of Bargala.

St. Gjorgji, village of Gorni Kozjak, 9th/10th (11th/12th) century

There are different theories and assumptions about the time of its construction. Some claim that it was built in the period of the 11th-12th century, but large number of scientists place it in the period of the 9th-10th century, i.e. at the time of christening of Slovenes along the valley of river Bregalnica.

The church is built using chipped river rocks, with slaked lime mortar and with many late-antique decorations from Bargala. It has a base of an encrypted cross with a dome of an octagonal drum. Its narthex has a stone cross vault, connected to the naos through the triforium.

There is one large biphora on both the north and south side.

The research shows that during the 14th century the church was renovated, whereas at the south side of the narthex a chapel of a square base and half-rounded drum has been additionally built, the upper parts of hte biphoreshave been closed and the church has been decorated and fresco-painted for the third time in a row.

From the original layer of fresco-art at the two half-rounded arcs, only the southern one has a fresco fragment that still remains and it represents a visage of a saint.

Gallery of icons in the church St. Nikola - Štip

One of the most representative sacral objects, built by the example of the church Uspenie na Presveta Bogorodica (Dormition of the Virgin) in Novo Selo - Štip that was built by the proto-master Andreja Damjanov, is the church St.Nikola in Štip, built on the site of the old Sifieva church dedicated to St. Nikola (1341) by the master constructor Gjorgi Novakov-Dzongar. For the renewal-rebuilding of this church witnesses the inscription board built-in above the main western entrance, whose text says that the church was constructed in the time of the Metropolitan of Kustendil and Stip - Ignatija, 10th of May 1867.

The gallery was formed in 1990 and accommodates rich fund of art works from the churches and monasteries from Bregalnica region. The gallery exhibition, enriched with the icons of the great iconostasis of the church’s naos, the fresco-decorations and abundantly engraved baldachin (semicircular board leaned on four poles in the altar where the holy communion is exercised), are real rarities for the historical fine arts church past on this soil. This exhibition is comprised by art works-icons, done by many of our known and anonymous zographs (icon painters) who worked in the churches and monasteries of Eastern Macedonia in the 17th, 17th and 19th century, as well as old printed church books, gilded putiri (glasses for communion), engraved silver crosses, relics, and other valuable sacral exhibits.

In the southern part of the gallery of this church 29 icons are presented that date from 18th and 19th century, by the icon painters: Dziko from village Osoj, Konstantin zograph, Petre Novev Pacarev from village Tresonce, Krste zograph from Veles, Adamce zograph and others.

We would list the following icons: St. Kirik and Julita, Nativity of Christ, Holy Trinity, Virgin Mary and Christ, St. Jovan with the zitie (saint’s biography) etc.

In the western part of the gallery 32 icons are presented, most of them dating from 19th century. Painters of these icons were: Danail Kocov from Stip, Stanislav Dospeski, Krste zograph from Veles and others.

More significant amongst them are the ones presenting Jesus Christ, St.Nikola Deisis, Holy Mother of God - Umilitelna etc.

In the northern part of the gallery 31 icons are presented, works of the icon painters: Petre Novev, Isaija Debarlija, Konstantin Andonov.

With its painting and colors distinguish the icons with presentation of St. Simeon (one of the twelve Christ’s apostles), St. Mina, Baptizing of Christ and others.

On the iconostasis in the northern chapel there are 16 icons, works of the authors: Krste from Veles, Atanasie, Dziko from Osoj, Atanas from Krusevo etc. We underline the icons: St. Pantelejmon, St. Apostle Filip and St. Jovan. On the iconostasis ni the southern chapel there are 13 icons, most of them painted by the icon painter Krste from Veles. We mention: Transfiguration of Christ, Apostle Toma, St. Dimitrija and others.

The attention of the visitors is primarily attracted by the icons that are situated on the large iconostasis in the naos of the church and there are 67 of them, all of them are works of one of the most famous zographs from 19th century, more precisely from 1890, and this is the icon painter Dimitar A. Papradiski.

From all of them we emphasize the icons with presentation of the Assembly of Apostles, the Apostle Pavle, St. Haralampie, St. Simeon Stolpnik, The Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel etc.

In the gallery space of this church there are seven showcases where more Psalters (books with various church texts) have been exhibited, printed in Moscow in the first half of the 19th century.

Minei (books describing all services for celebrating Holy Mother of God, St. Jovan Preteca (St. John Forerunner) and other saints, divided into twelve months);

Gospels (books with texts of the four Evangelists: Mateja, Marko, Luka and Jovan);

Trebnici (books that speak about the haircut of the monks, the burial customs, water baptizing etc);

Amongst the church exhibits in these showcases there are several wedding crowns dated late 19th century, more silver Ibrici (vessels in a form of jag that priests used for washing), putiri (silvered and gilded cups for communion), cups with silver spoons for communion, silvered crosses for kissing, silvered icon lamps and many others.

At the end we would only add that this gallery exhibition in this representative church with its exhibits that show the beauty and the values of the sacral cultural heritage owned by Bregalnica region, is an important part of people’s life in our renaissance history. The visitor really has what to see and to delight himself spiritually in the church museum-gallery in the church St. Nikola in the town of Stip.