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Struga (Municipality, North Macedonia)

Струга, Strugë

Last modified: 2019-09-08 by ivan sache
Keywords: struga | strugë | labuništa | labunishti | lukovo | llukova | modrič |
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Flag of Struga - Image by Mello Luchtenberg & António Martins, 18 November 2006

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Presentation of Struga

The municipality of Struga (in Albanian, Strugë; 63,376 inhabitants; 483 sq. km), located by Lake Ohrid, is made of the town of Struga and the 50 settlements of Bezovo, Bidževo (Bixhova), Bogojci (Bogovica), Brčevo (Bruqeva)), Burinec (Burineci), Velešta (Veleshta), Višni (Vishnja), Vranište (Vranishti), Globočica (Glloboçica), Gorna Belica (Belica e Sipërme), Gorno Tateši (Tateshi i Epërm), Dolna Belica (Belica e Posthme), Delogoždi (Dollogozhda), Dobovjani, Dolno Tateši (Tateshi i Poshtëm), Draslajca (Drasllavica), Drenok (Drenoku), Zagračani (Zagraçani), Zbaždi (Zbazhda), Jablanica (Jabllanica), Kališta (Kalishta), Korošišta (Koroshishti), Labuništa (Labunishti), Lakaica (Lakavica), Livada(Livadhi), Ložani (Llozhani), Lokov, Lukovo (Llukova), Mali Vlaj, Misleševo , Mislodežda (Misllodezhdi), Modrič, Moroišta (Morovishti), Nerezi, Novo Selo (Novo Sella), Oktisi, Radožda, Radolišta (Ladorishti), Frangovo (Frëngova), Šum (Shumi), Piskupština (Bixhova), Podgorci (Podgorca), Poum (Poumi), Prisovjani, Ržanovo, Selci, Tašmaruništa, Toska and Džepin.
Struga is a local center of immigration from more rural regions. It is also a popular summer resort for Macedonians, and tourism is an important industry. The nearby international airport helps this further.
Struga is strongly divided between the Albanian and Macedonian communities.

The town of Struga is located on the northernmost point of the lake of Ohrid and divided by the river Crn (Black) Drim, which flows out of the lake straight through the heart of Struga, at an elevation of 695 m a.s.l..
Remains of Neolithic (3000 BC) fishers' settlements have been found on the place where the Crn Drim flows out of the lake of Ohrid. The settlement was progressively transformed into the village of Enhalon, which was, according to the historian Polybius, conquered by King Philip II of Macedonia in 334 BC, along with the other villages located on the lakeshore. After the Roman conquest in 148 BC, Enhalon was located close to the Via Ignatia, which linked Rome to Greece and Asia Minor. When the Christian religion was spread over the area in the 3rd century by Bishop St. Erasmus, the pagan temples were suppressed and replaced by primitive churches, whose remains are still discovered near Struga.
The name of Struga appeared in the 11th century. The legend says that St. Clemence of Ohrid founded a school in Struga, the place of foundation and the river nearby being still known as Klimetitsa. The medieval ruler Samuel is said to have built in Struga a church dedicated to St. George and to have ordered the building of hundred bridges over the Crn Drim. This story was popularized by the Byzantine traveler Ana Comnene. Anyway, the etymology of Struga is controversial. Some say that the name of the town comes from strig, "to shear sheep", or straga, stroga or struga, "a passage for sheep made through a fence", whereas other say that struga means "a river branch" or "a tributary".

Struga became later a crowdy caravan station and has been described by several travelers. The Turk Eveliya Cheleby visited the town in 1668 and published a detailed record of his stay. Struga was then famous for eel fishing. There was a big bridge built over the Crn Drim by the local Ottoman ruler Emin Aga, who lived in a palace built on the bridge. Cheleby counted some 300 houses, three inns and 40 shops. He reported that a big fair attracted twice a year for 10 days up to 50,000 visitors in Struga, which required the building of 300 additional, temporary shops. The name of the place has been preserved until today as Panagjurište, panagjur meaning "a fair". Struga can be found on the map "Turkey in Europe" published by John Bew in London in 1783. Nikola Pop Stefanov, in his "Chronicles", reports on 6 June 1808 the building of Geladin Bey's palace in the middle of the Crn Drim; the palace became fairly famous among travelers.

In the 19th century, the Macedonian national movement spread to Struga. The brothers Dimitri and Konstantin Miladinov, who gathered and published a collection of Macedonian folk songs, died in jail in Istanbul in 1862. They have been remembered since 1962 by the yearly poetry festival "The Struga Poetry Evenings", the largest poetry festival in the world, during which poems are read in different languages from the several bridges of the town. The festival officially opens with the reading of the poem "Longing for the South", written in Moscow by Konstantin Miladinov. The "Miladinov Brothers" award was supplemented in 1966 by the "Golden Wreath" awarded to a foreign poet; the first recipient of this award was Wystan Hugh Auden, followed later by, inter alia, Pablo Neruda, Eugenio Montale, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Eugene Guillevic, Rafael Alberti, Allan Ginsberg, Joseph Brodsky, Ted Hughes, Adonis, Yves Bonnefoy, Seamus Heaney and Nancy Morejon. In 2004, the organizers of the event and UNESCO created the "Bridges of Struga" award for young poets.
The inhabitants of Struga contributed to the Ilinden Uprising in 1903 and to the National Liberation Movement in 1941-1945. The Macedonian national anthem "Today over Macedonia" was sang for the first time in Struga by its author, the novelist Vlado Maleski (1919-1984).

The villages located near Struga on the lakeshore are famous for their cave churches with frescos painted on the walls, such as the Archangel Michael church in Radožda (late 13th century), the Nativity of the Virgin (51th-16th centuries) and St. Athanase (13th-14th centuries) churches in Kališta, the Holy Savior church in Višni (late 14th century).
The mountain village of Gorna Belica, located at an elevation of 1,600 m a.s.l. close to the border with Albania, has only two permanent inhabitants but several visitors for weekends and holidays. Another mountain village, Oktisi, is famous for its paleo-Christian basilica dated to the 5th-6th centuries, with a mosaic floor richly decorated with depictions of deer, horses, flowers, trees, and geometrical elements. The basilica of Radolišta is even older (5th century). The more recent (9th-10th centuries) church of Vranište is unique in the Balkan by its architecture, having three naves each with a two-sided roof; it is locally known as the Royal Church because the ruler Samuel is said to have been crowned in the church.


Ivan Sache & Željko Heimer, 18 November 2006

Flag of Struga

The flag of Struga (Macedonian Ministry of Local Self-Government website, page no longer online), is vertical, in proportions 2:1, blue with the municipal emblem in the center.
The emblem must represents river Crn Drim flowing out of the lake of Ohrid and dividing the town into two parts linked by a bridge. The golden wreath might be a straightforward representation of the "Golden Wreath" awarded during the poetry festival.

Ivan Sache & Željko Heimer , 25 February 2002

Former municipalities

Labuništa (Labunishti)


Flag of Labuništa - Image by Mello Luchtenberg & António Martins, 11 November 2006

The municipality of Labuništa (9,312 inhabitants in 1994), located some 10 km north of the lake of Ohrid, was incorporated into the municipality of Struga in 2004.
The villages of Labuništa and Podgorci were known for the Custom of Lazara, singing traditional songs honoring King Lazar. Quoting Petko Domazetovski, Encyclopaedia of Cultural Heritage of Struga, 2005:

Children used to sing traditional songs on Male Lazara, on Friday before Lazar's Saturday, when they used to go from door to door, collecting eggs and carrying small baskets, decorated with blooming fruit trees branches and spring flowers. The singing of girls was very impressive, too. They used to sing traditionale songs on Female Lazara, that is the next day - Lazar's Saturday. In order to make the holiday as glorious as possible, girls would start preparing since Mardi Gras. The preparations included traditional songs from elderly women and more experienced participants in this custom. They also took care about the clothes, which represented glorious decoration of the custom. Prepared in that manner, on the Day of Lazar, the girls participating in the custom used to start visiting houses from the early morning, singing traditional songs to the head of the household and his mistress, to boys and girls, to children, etc. In singing the songs, they used to take into consideration circumstances and conditions of each household individually. The leading role during the custom and singing traditional songs was granted to the leader of the first row, called "the first" or buljukbaša. Leading role was also granted to the leader of the second row of girls, called "medium". We should point out that the girls of Lazar used to sing songs on Sunday, too, i.e. on Cvetnici (Day of Blooming). In Labuništa, it used to be done in front of the Church of St. Spas, while in Podgorci in front of the small Church of St. Prečista.
We can conclude that the custom of Female Lazara had been abandoned long time ago in both villages. It happened in the period before and during the occupation. Reasons for this should be sought for in the war cataclysm. In addition, the post-war period did not provided for any favorable conditions in which this beautifull folk custom could have been preserved. Yet, we may be comforted by the fact that the custom of Male Lazara has been preserved and is being carried out in modern days, although by younger children.

Labuništa is also a place of significance for the Macedonian theater. Quoting the Vevcani municipal website:

By the end of the 1930s, following the establishment of the library with a reading hall, the Cultural Society Saint Vasilije was established, covering the area of Vevcani, Oktisi, Podgorci and Labuništa. In 1939, in the framework of the Cultural Society, an amateur theatre group was established, and it performed several dramatic works. The play Pecalbari (Migrant workers), performed in Macedonian, attracted particular interest. The Cultural Society, that is the theatre group, was facing permanent problems with the authorities because of this performance. Thus, in 1940, the local police in Labuništa prohibited the scheduled theatre performance. The performance had great success in Vevcani and in Struga, in Tourist Hotel.

Labuništa is the birth and death place of the writer Angelko Krstikj (1871-1952), author of "Stories" (vol. 1, 1932; vol. 2, 1951), the novel "Trajan" (1932) and the drama "Prisoners" (1937), and winner of the Award of the Seven Arts in Belgrade, 1934.

The flag of Labuništa (Macedonian Ministry of Local Self-Government website, page no longer online), is in proportions 2:3, horizontally divided red-white-black with a green triangle placed along the hoist, and the municipal emblem in the center.
The emblem shows a landscape with a snowy mountain, a white dove and a blue sky with four yellow stars. Below the landscape are shown two hands shaking each other.

Ivan Sache & Željko Heimer, 10 June 2006

Former municipality of Lukovo (Llukova)


Flag of Lukovo - Image by Mello Luchtenberg & António Martins, 12 November 2006

The municipality of Lukovo (1,932 inhabitants) is located some 20 km north of Lake Ohrid in the valley of Crni Drim. Just north to Lukovo is Lake Debar and just south of it is Lake Globočicko. Just south of Lukovo is also a hydroelectric power plant.
Lukovo was incorporated into the municipality of Struga in 2004.

The flag of Lukovo (Macedonian Ministry of Local Self-Government website, page no longer online), is vertical, in proportions 2:1, red with a white stripe near the hoist and the municipal emblem in canton. The emblem shows a landscape with a bridge and a lake (?). There is a scroll above the shield and another one below it.

Ivan Sache & Željko Heimer , 10 June 2006

Village of Modrič


Flag of Modrič - Image by Valentin Poposki, 19 June 2011

Modrič has a permanent population of 25 inhabitants, but during summer months there are several hundreds people who reside in the village.
The flag of the village is red with the village's central monument and the river, the sun and the mountain, in vertical format.

Valentin Poposki, 19 June 2011

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