St. Holy Mother of God Balaklija (Eastern Friday) monastery – Berovo
The church Holy Mother of God is located near Berovo, more precisely on the road Berovo – Berovo lake, at the beginning of the Bregalnica-Ablanica canyon. Its building started in 1972 and it finished in 1975. It was built like the Byzantine – Macedonian churches from the midcentury. The monastery is male, and the typikon of the monastery is hesychastic. Near the monastery, there was another, older church (a single-nave, simple church, made of crushed stone, with wooden ceiling and semicircular apse on the outside, west side entrance, 4 windows on the northern and 3 on the southern side), which was ruined and the icons were transferred to the new church.
On August 28, the Orthodox Christian people celebrate the holiday Dormition of the Holy Mother of God. In its honor, on that day each year, Berovo hosts the church-people’s assembly organized by the monastery Holy Mother of God – Eastern Friday. On this day, Berovo is visited by people from all over the country and abroad and the number of visitors reaches up to 15.000. In the monastery, the citizens of the host-town organize a mass celebration for the holiday and each of the visitors – believers pays homage to the Holy Mother and participates in the festive feast. In that way, the tradition proceeds for more than ten centuries.
Nativity of the Virgin Mary – Berovo
The church Nativity of Virgin Mary is one of the recognizable trademarks of Berovo and a centre of events for the citizens and visitors. It was built in 1912 and it was sanctified in 1922. The bell tower was built in 1930. The church is a single-nave building of a bigger size and it has a semicircular apse on the outside. Inside, the upper part finishes in a flat ceiling, colored green, with a higher middle part with decorations.
St. Archangel Michael – Berovo
At the entrance of the Bregalnica-Ablanica canyon, where Bregalnica starts its journey through the fields of Berovo, lies the monastery St. Archangel Michael, built in 1818. It was built between two older churches, St. George on the right side, about a hundred meters further, where now there are leftovers and St. Holy Mother on the left side, at the entrance of the Bregalnica canyon, where Berovo was situated in the 18th century. The building of the monastery is connected to a legend: In those times, there weren’t any churches in Berovo. Because of that, the people of Berovo, led by the priest Peco, asked the local Turkish rulers to build one. When the delegation, headed by priest Peco, went to talk to the Turkish ruler – Buljukbashlija, he accepted the request but under three conditions. The first one was to build the church in forty days; the second one was not to make the roof taller than the road to the springs of Bregalnica and the third condition was that priest Peco gives his youngest and most beautiful daughter to the Buljukbashlija. The people of Berovo accepted the first two conditions without a doubt and priest Peco informed them that even his daughter agrees to the third condition, so they started to build immediately. The church was done in forty days and it was no higher than the road which made it not visible. On the fortieth day, the soldiers’ caravan sent by the Wali arrived to take the youngest priest’s daughter. She really took off with them to Thessaloniki. But, her intentions were not to make it to the Wali, so when the caravan reached the Dojran Lake, she jumped off the horse and dove into the water. The soldiers thought that the girl drowned and rushed to the Wali to inform him about the event. But the priest’s daughter wasn’t dead. She was found by a shepherd grazing his sheep close to the lake and he took her to liberated Serbia.
Within the church, there is a female monastery, too. The foundations of the first female monastery in Berovo were built twenty years after the building of the church (around 1940). In its best times, the monastery was a home of up to sixty nuns with developed, rich economy, theological school, weaving workshop. The nuns live in the church lodgings, spread on the south, west and north side of the church. They are built in the old Maleshevian architectural manner, on one floor, with 16 rooms of total 560 m2. In one part of the southern lodgings, there are two memorial rooms, one for Atanas Razdolov and the other one for Nikola Petrov Rusinski, and in the other part there is a museum for the uprisings in Razlovci and Kresna.
The church with a large porch, built in a 19th century architectural manner, dominates the monastery yard. Inside, the faces of the saints are painted in a specific way that doesn’t correspond to the byzantine canons. From the original iconostasis, there is only one icon preserved and it represents the Holy Prophet Noah. It was made by the artist Georgi Veljanov from Strumica, in 1818. The lodgings are playful. The iconostasis that separates the altar from the middle part has 10 so called tsar’s icons built-in and they are of great artistic significance. The warmth of the wood shaped in an old-town’s manner from 19th century is very attractive. The monastery library keeps many books and texts from the 19th and 20th century, and inside the church, there are 72 icons from the 19th century.
The activities of the monastery were connected with the Razlovci Uprising (1876) and Kresna Uprising (1878). Today, in the museum, there are photos, documents, maps and old weapons from the historical past of the Maleshevo region and Macedonia. The sisterhood of the monastery makes icons in byzantine style for iconostases or custom made. The monastery is accessible and open for the spiritual needs of any well-meaning visitor. The entrance through the big wooden gate introduces the visitor to a different world, the world of prayer.
St. Petka – village Rusinovo
The church St. Petka is situated at the exit of the village Rusinovo, on the road that leads to the village Vladimirovo. It dates from the first half of the 19th century. It is rich in icons and writings from different periods. In this village you can also visit the chapel church of St. Archangel Michael from 14th century, and you can also be attracted by the beauty of the chapel church of St. Marco where they perform a sacrifice (church-people’s assembly) on the holiday Holy Mother of God, on August 28th, each year.
St. Apostles – village Ratevo
In village Ratevo, which is 7 km far from Berovo, you can visit the church St. Apostles. It was built in the second half of the 19th century, and, like most of the churches in the Maleshevo region, it has many icons covered with writings from different periods. The sacrifice (the church-people’s assembly) is made on the holidays Holy Mother of God and Ilinden and the village celebrates St. Paul.
Church of the Ascension of Jesus – village Vladimirovo
This village attracts with its old architecture. In the centre of the village, there is an old inn from the 18th century and the church of the Ascension of Jesus (St. Spas) from 1843 which during the times served as a school and a police station, too. Here, they found “The chronicles of the church of the Ascension of Jesus”. The village celebrates the Ascension of Jesus (St. Spas), and the sacrifice (church-people’s assembly) is on Ilinden.
Dormition of the Holy Mother of God – village Smojmirovo
This village is only 3km far from Berovo and there you can visit the church Dormition of the Holy Mother of God, built in 1909 on the place of an old church. It is similar to the Church of the Ascension of Jesus in Vladimirovo. The village celebrates the day of the Holy Trinity.
St. Athanasius – village Machevo
Machevo is the smallest village in Berovo and there you can visit the church St. Athanasius which, according to the inscription on the western entrance, was built in 1932, on the place of an older church. The villagers celebrate St. Athanasius and they perform the sacrifice (church-people’s assembly) on Ilinden. Also, in this village you can visit the archeological site known as Machevski Chuki from Roman times. There can be found unevenly shaped bricks, baked and with red-brown color. They were dug up from the small, rocky summit which slid during the digging of the break-through road Berovo-Kocani.
St. George – village Budinarci
The village Budinarci keeps its unique 18th century village architecture. You can visit the church St. George from 1857. The church-people’s assembly is held on Ilinden and Mitrovden. The villagers celebrate St. Most Holy Mother (Presveta Bogorodica). West of the village you can find the chapel church St. George where people gather on Gjurgjovden. Near the chapel, there is a holy water spring, where many people find salvation.
St. Elijah – village Mitrashinci
In Mitrashinci, you can find the biggest church in the municipality – St. Elijah, but there is no evidence on when it was built. According to an inscription in it, it was painted in 1894. This is the only church in the Maleshevo region fully covered with fresco paintings.
Holy Virgin Mary – village Dvorishte
In the village Dvorishte, which is the furthest from the town of Berovo, you can visit the church Holy Virgin Mary, built in the beginning of the 20th century by immigrants from Ribnica, Pirin Macedonia. There is an interesting custom – Surova, performed in the night between 13th and 14th of January, each year. The village celebrates The Holy Virgin Mary (Mala Bogorodica), known between the people as Rozhen, and the church-people’s assembly is on Ilinden.