Polog Region – Shara Mountain

As we depart west from Skopje, we enter the region of Polog Valley, divided on upper and lower Polog region.  The two biggest cities, Tetovo and Gostivar, stretch underneath the glorious mountain reef of Shar Mountain. As part of the Northwestern region, Polog borders with two countries, Albania and Kosovo. The current population of the Polog statistical region is 304,125 citizens and is the only region in Macedonia where majority of the nationality is Albanian.

Tetovo, famous for its mixed ethnicity is the second largest town in N. Macedonia. In the Ottoman period was known by its unique and only in this region, mysterious Dervish unity of Bektashi and their Arabati Baba Tekke. The cultural attractions in the region are placed in the town of Tetovo near the Pena river. The Painted Mosque (Sharena Dzamija) originally built in 1438, was financed by two sisters from Tetovo. A  hammam was built across the river and the site used to include an Inn.

The upper region of Polog is popular for the beautiful Shara Mountain, Popova Shapka ski center. Popova Shapka also has a choice of different type of accommodation, from small lodges and villas, to 4**** star hotels that allow skiers to enjoy the ski center for more than just a day.  Shara Mountain range is abundant with grazing fields, and stock and sheep breeding and also the home of the indigenous shepherd dog– the Sharplaninec.  The lower Polog area is one of the richest agricultural region in west of Macedonia popular for the growth of the famous Tetovo beans.  These beans are the sole product in making the unique Macedonian specialty Tavche Gravche that can be combined with the popular Shara burger.

As we continue to the city of Gostivar on the outskirts of this city are the famous springs of the river Vardar, the widest river in N. Macedonia. The springs of Vrutok are used in production of electricity but are famous for the many local restaurants serving the fresh river trout breed directly from the springs. With its local cheese and vegetables one cannot pass the region without enjoying the sound of the spring with the taste of the Polog region.

  • Tetovo – PaintedMosque and Aribati Baba Tekke
  • Leshok Monastery
  • Ski Center Popova Shapka
  • Gostivar – Old clock tower
  • Vrutok – the springs of river Vardar
  • Vrben – old village with tradition
  • Sharplaninec Dog

PaintedMosque – Tetovo

The current courtyard of the Sharena Džamija is filled with many flowers, a fountain, and a Türbe. The octagonal “türbe” houses the resting places of Hurshida and Mensure, the two sisters who financed the construction of the mosque in 1438 styles the early Constantinople Ottoman Architecture.I in 1833 by Abdurrahman Pasha order it restored and painted. 30,000 eggs were used to prepare the paint and glaze that went into the elaborate decorations.It is one of the most visited sites on the pilgrimage tours of the Ottoman heritage.

AraBati Baba Tekke-Tetovo

The Dervish Bektesh Teke founded by Sersem Ali Baba in the period 1538-1548 and the religious complex built in the XIX c. represents the most important monument of its type in our country. The Bektesh monks lived in the Teke for 120 years (till 1912) practicing their religion and learning the secrets of their cult.

The Monastery of Lešok

Lying at 638 metres above sea level it is located on the southeastern side of the mountain SharaMountain. In its complex are the churches of St. Athanasius of Alexandria and the Holy Mother of God Church. The Church of the Holy Virgin, built in 1326, is an excellent example of Byzantine style and architectural tradition. The church has three layers of frescoes.

Ski trails
Located only 20 km from Tetovo and 45 minutes ride from the capital, Popova Shapka offers skiers over 30 km of ski tracks on an altitude from 1708 to 2525 m above sea level. It has 3 chair lifts and 6 t-bar lifts allowing you to ski on the 1400 m slopes. With its several snow caterpillars it is a complete skiers paradise in freeride and turno skiing.

Hiking trails

Popova Shapka

Distance: 16.5 km

Elevation: 1709-1998-1730m

Difficulty: Difficult

Titov Vrv

Distance: 19 km

Elevation: 1800-2700-1750m

Difficulty: Very Difficult

Biking trails Popova Shapka – Mavrovo

Distance: 72 km

Elevation: 1730-1938-1255m

Difficulty: Difficult

Sharska pleskavica (Shara burger)

Sharska pleskavica is a minced meatburger but the real treat is the cheese inside that makes it moist and gooey inside.

Pasha kofte (Pasha meatballs)

Pasha kofte (meatballs) is one of the many Ottoman specialties the Balkan region – a combination of minced meat, rice, onions and local spices combined in meatballs. The meatballs are fried, dried on a paper towel and covered with white flower garlic and carrots souse.


A sweet specialty made by grandmothers and mothers for different holidays and celebrations. It is sherbet-based pastry with walnuts and raisins in between layers of thin stretched pastry sheets.


Made of mix of different vegetables and meats baked in an oven in a traditional pottery dish. Turlitava arrives from Turkish words ‘turli’ meaning ‘mixed’ and ‘tava’ meaning ‘a pottery dish’.

Shara baked lamb

Usually prepared by the sheepherders in the mountain region. Lamb spiced with local herbs and cooked in a dig-up ditch covered with burning coal. It is cooked for hours until the meat freely falls of the bones.

By Plane

Skopje airport 70 km

Ohrid Airport 120 km

Pristina Airport 130 km


E65 highway from Skopje,

Prishtina 127 km R6 and E65

Local – Skopje – Tetovo – Gostivar

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