Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kokino/Valley of the Stone Dolls

The kids at Valley of the Stone Dolls

The "Dragon Lady" rock

A photo of the mountaintop at Kokino

The rocks had such interesting texture and color.

Arianna at Kokino
Here are some awesome photos from our recent trip to the Kokino Observatory, an ancient observatory located in the Northern part of Macedonia, and also from the Valley of Stone Dolls, an interesting group of rock formations. We travelled to these sites as part of a tour group arranged by the CLO through GO Macedonia! It was a lovely day to be outdoors and we enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine. Although it felt like we spent most of the day on the bus, it was still a very worthwhile trip and the historic sites we visited were stunning.

First, we stopped very briefly at Kumanovo and learned a bit about the observatory there, then proceded on to Kokino. It was a bit of a tough hike up the mountain due to the odd snowstorm the week before. The slippery conditions were quite challenging on the steep climb. Christopher made it all the way to the top, but Arianna's asthma started acting up, so she and I didn't quite get there. We did go to the base of the rock formation, and the views were breathtaking! While the others were exploring and learning more about the ancient rituals that took place atop the mountain, we kept busy photographing the herd of cattle that was wandering around at the base.

Next, we stopped at gas station to use the wretchedly disgusting bathrooms before heading on to the Valley of the Stone Dolls. We traveled through tiny, winding country lanes to reach the site, frequented by local picnickers, but rarely visited by other Macedonians. It is a neat place with a fascinating history. The rock formations are centuries old, and have the oddest shapes. There is even evidence of new formation being created. The locals believe that the stones resemble a wedding party and the legend has it that the formations are actually the bridal party, guests, and a scorned lover of the newly married husband. The story says that the man had two loves and chose one for his bride. The other lover was so angry she prayed that at his wedding, all would turn to stone. If you look at the formations closely, some actually take on human form. It was fun to compare my perspective with that of the others and try to label the various shapes. What a cool place!

More info about the trip in my next posting.......

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