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Castle at Pchinja

The Castle at Pchinja (Пчиња) is located at 26 km southeast of the capital Skopje and the Skopje – Thessaloniki highway.

There are some historical records that a castle on this location existed even since 3500 years BC.

The few collected and discovered pieces of pottery over 1,000 years BC were those that were used by the Payon warriors which together with the Trojans fought the Achaeans.

As one of the northwest and border areas to Dardania (Дарданија), Paeonian settlement over Pchinja certainly administratively dependent from Bilazora (Билазора) the city center, built on twenty kilometers from here.

The Macedonian period IV - II century BC and the Roman period until the IV century AD, are still covered with secrets.

As a Castle, this settlement had strategic importance of IV to VII century for control of ancient and medieval road from Thessalonica (Thessaloniki) to Skupi (Skopje).

The fortress on the western area overhanging the cliffs in the north despite Pchinja, Christian population erected a church in which they prayed until the first decades of the VII century, when they were defeated from the barbarian tribes from the north. At the same time, at the highest cliffs, near the Acropolis, the everyday life of contemporary bakers, blacksmiths and merchants took place.

The reconstitution of the Byzantine Empire in the XI century restored active life and the importance of the Castle which uninterruptedly existed until the Ottoman conquest in the late XIV century. At the western end of the area, remains of a church with fragments of paintings chronologically binds to XII - XIII century. It is likely that there was a monastery situated recorded in royal documents which are kept in the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos.
According to the document of XIV century, the Metropolitan of Serres, Jacob (Јаков), has received a royal gift – monastery with the surrounding territory and property management. It is likely that the last years of his life he ended up in a cell made in the natural cave located under the steepest and southern rock under the castle.

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