Tetovo, 20 November 2019 (MIA) – To reach the Shar Mountain village of Brezno, you need to walk the 4.5 km from Leshok village into the woods, along a path lavish with autumnal colors immediately revealing the brilliant nature all around you.
Brezno has around 80 houses, and 50 of them are vacation homes. Most owners visit with their families over the weekends from March through November, but some stay here all summer long.
“Everyone left the village in the 1960s for economic reasons,” says Ilija Todorovski, a local who now lives in Tetovo. “To survive, people went to work in factories and gradually abandoned agriculture.”
Many houses still look the same as when they were built in the early 20th century.
In an authentic village style, they’re made of rocks, with wooden balconies and wooden stairs.
Almost all have yards lush with vegetation, and some have gardens full of fruits and vegetables.
“At most, only a dozen people have lived here at any given time. For the last two decades, big city people have used these houses as vacation homes.
“Senior citizens, however, spend their summers here if they can afford it.
“Many of the houses have been thoroughly renovated, particularly their roofs, so that they can withstand the test of time. Their stone and wood foundations remain,” says Valentin Tasevski, another local.
Brezno, apart from its beautiful nature and houses, is also known for the delicious fruit that grows here, such as the high-quality chestnuts and sweet Cornellian cherries you can see all around the village.
“The chestnuts are pretty big, juicy, and sweet. It’s because of the climate, this stretch of sunlit forest.
“That’s why they grow so well. There’s hardly a family without their own chestnut grove outside the village.
“You can also find Cornellian cherries everywhere. Especially this year, there’s a lot of them, and they’re pretty sweet and juicy,” Ilija explains.
One landmark of the village is the Mileska Fountain. Its water lets people taste the natural grace of this region.
It’s at least a century old, considering that Brezno’s oldest inhabitant, 82-year-old Zhivko, says he remembers it as a child. Even then, he was told the fountain had been there for many years before.
“Its mountain spring is high up in Shar Mountain,” Zhivko says.
“The water is refreshing and safe to drink. Every family in the village prefers this water to the one in their households. They come here, fill their bottles, and take them back to their houses.
“Some say this water is better than the water in Tearce, Leshok, and even Slatino, so they come all the way from those villages, too, just to fill up and take it home,” Zhivko says.
A kilometer and a half away from the village is Lake Brezjansko.
It does have water supply channels, but they’ve been buried for years.
That’s why an initiative was started to restore it so the lake can be refilled with water and become, once again, an attractive picnic site.
“We started cleaning the supply channel from Sokolec to Lake Brezjansko,” Valentin says.
“We located the trail, found the pipes.
“So far, we’ve managed to remove all the vegetation that we could cut away manually.
“Next, we’ll be using chainsaws to remove the trees that have fallen on top of the canal,” Valentin adds.
Restoring the lake will make this place much more attractive to visit. The forested area is perfect for vacations and escaping the heat of summer.
“As board members,” Ilija says, “we’ve come up with an idea to make hiking trails around the lake, which would lead to Brezno and other Shar Mountain villages.
“Across the lake, there is also a meadow where we could build sports fields. Near the lake, we plan to build picnic places with chairs, tables, canopies, barbeque spots, things like that,” Ilija says, stressing the lake’s potential to attract tourists in the future.
“The village’s altitude is around 970 m, and the lake’s altitude is 1,050 m,” Valentin adds.
“In the summer, the weather here is much cooler than the weather in the city or any other villages located on flatter plains.
“Also, the air pressure never changes here, so it’s excellent for people with high blood pressures.
“They can’t take going to places with big altitude differences, but Brezno isn’t anything like that. They can relax here, get some rest, and escape the summer heat. It’s like a fresh air spa,” Valentin says.
A couple of kilometers away from Brezno is the archaeological site of Selishte. This is where Brezno used to be during the days of the Ottoman Empire.
As years passed, Brezno was relocated to where it is now.
The church of Saint Elijah still stands in Selishte, where Ilinden—St. Ilija [Elijah] day—is celebrated every Aug. 2.
Brezno, too, has a church of its own: St. Mary, where the village celebrates the Dormition of the Mother of God on Aug. 28.
Translated by Dragana Knežević
Edited by Magdalena Reed