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Discover Veles

Exploring the Heart of Macedonia

Nestled in the central region of Macedonia, Veles emerges as a city steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. With its strategic location along the Vardar River and as a key junction on the Balkan Peninsula, Veles has long played a pivotal role in the region’s development.

This vibrant city, known for its revolutionary spirit, cultural revivalists, and poetic legacy, offers a unique blend of ancient history and modern vibrancy, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking to explore the depths of Macedonian heritage.


Veles – city of revivalists, revolutionaries and poets – cradle of Macedonian culture Veles is located in the central part of the country, in the middle course of the Vardar river. It lies on the main thoroughfare of the Balkan Peninsula along the Moravian-Vardar valley.
The main railway in the Republic of Macedonia passes through the city, from which two branches separate: one for the eastern part of Macedonia ( Stip and Kočani ) and the other for the southwestern part ( Prilep and Bitola ). After Skopje, Veles is the most important railway junction in the Republic of Macedonia.
To the northwest of Veles is the capital of Macedonia, Skopje, to the northeast is the city of Sveti Nikole, to the east is the city of Shtip, to the southwest is Prilep, and to the southeast are Kavadarci and Negotino.
Veles has a very favorable geographical position, as it is a crossroads of international road and railway routes and one of the main transit centers in Macedonia.
Veles is the sixth most populous city in Macedonia with a total population of 43,716.

How to Get to Veles?

By Air

The closest major airport to Veles is Skopje International Airport (SKP), also known as Alexander the Great Airport, located approximately 50 kilometers north of Veles. The airport is well connected to many major cities across Europe and beyond.

Upon landing, you can opt for a taxi, a rental car, or a shuttle service to reach Veles. The journey by road takes around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.

By Train

Veles is well-connected by train, serving as a significant railway junction in North Macedonia.

The city lies on the main railway line that connects the north and south of the country, making it accessible from various Macedonian cities, including Skopje, Bitola, and Prilep.

By Bus

Buses to Veles run frequently from Skopje and other major cities in North Macedonia. The bus journey from Skopje to Veles is short, affordable, and convenient, making it a popular choice among travelers.

The Veles bus station is centrally located, offering easy access to the city’s main attractions.

By Car

Driving to Veles offers the flexibility to explore the city and its surroundings at your own pace. The city is accessible via the E75 highway, part of the Pan-European Corridor X, which runs through North Macedonia. From Skopje, follow the E75 south towards Veles. The drive is scenic and takes less than an hour.

Read more for: How to get to North Macedonia?

Tips for Travelers

  • Check Timetables: Whether you’re traveling by train or bus, it’s wise to check the latest timetables and book your tickets in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.
  • Car Rental: If you’re arriving by air and plan to rent a car, booking in advance can often secure you a better deal.
  • Stay Connected: Consider purchasing a local SIM card to stay connected and navigate easily.
  • Local Currency: Ensure you have some Macedonian Denar (MKD) for immediate expenses upon arrival.

A Glimpse into Past

Veles’s story is as ancient as it is fascinating. Initially mentioned in the 3rd century as Villa Zora, a term signifying a city-bridge, Veles has undergone numerous transformations throughout the centuries.

The arrival of Slavs in the 7th century gave it its present name, derived from “v les,” meaning “in the forest,” a nod to the dense woods that once surrounded the area.

The city’s history is marked by its evolution from a significant trading and crafts center, especially noted for its pottery, to its current status as a crucial industrial and cultural hub.

The city’s evolution through time is fascinating, with its name changing multiple times since its mention in the 3rd century. Initially known as Villa Zora, later called Qupurli, and finally Veles, the city has seen significant transformations, especially post the Balkan Wars and World Wars, evolving into a vibrant industrial and cultural center.

Veles’s history is a testament to its enduring spirit, with the city playing a crucial role in Macedonia’s cultural and economic development.

Cultural and Historical Monuments

Veles is home to several monuments and sites that celebrate its rich heritage:

Monument to the Shipmen

This poignant monument honors twelve sailors from Veles who, on the eve of the Ilinden Uprising, undertook a daring mission in Thessaloniki to bring attention to the Macedonian cause.

Their message, “We are rooting for Macedonia,” remains etched on the monument, symbolizing their unwavering commitment to their homeland.

Monument to Kocho Racin

In tribute to Kocho Solev Racin, a monumental figure in Macedonian literature and the patron of Veles’ high school, stands a statue crafted by sculptor Dimko Todorovski.

Erected in 1968, the monument commemorates Racin’s influence and the indomitable spirit of the Macedonian people.

Church of St. Panteleimon

The stunning city cathedral of St. Panteleimon, a UNESCO-protected site, showcases the exquisite frescoes and icons by renowned Macedonian painters.

This spiritual and architectural marvel lies just a short distance from the heart of Veles.

Theater “Jordan Hadji-Konstantinov the Giant”

Veles’ rich theatrical tradition, dating back two thousand years to the Roman theater in ancient Stobi, is celebrated at the National Theater “Jordan Hadji Konstantinov – The Giant”.

Established in 1948, this theater honors the legacy of the educator and revivalist Jordan Haji-Konstantinov the Giant, a pioneer of modern Macedonian theater.

The Kosturnica Monument

Located on the hills overlooking Veles, the Kosturnica Monument is a powerful symbol of resistance and sacrifice. It was built to honor the fighters of the National Liberation War and the citizens of Veles who perished during World War II.

The monument, with its striking architecture, is not only a memorial but also a testament to the resilience and courage of the Macedonian people.

Natural and Archaeological Places

Lake Mladost

A mere eight kilometers north of Veles lies Lake Mladost, a picturesque artificial reservoir perfect for recreation and relaxation. With its array of tourist and catering facilities, including a unique boat-restaurant, Lake Mladost is a haven for visitors seeking tranquility and natural beauty.

Archaeological Site Stobi

A short distance from Veles lies Stobi, an ancient city that once thrived as a commercial and military hub. Its rich history, dating back to 217 BC, along with the remains of palaces, basilicas, and other structures, offers a fascinating glimpse into the past.

The site’s significance is further highlighted by its role in the development of Christianity in the region. The ancient city of Stobi, near Veles, offers a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Macedonia’s past. Once a crucial commercial, military, and cultural hub, Stobi’s ruins, including palaces, basilicas adorned with frescoes and mosaics, and evidence of early Christianity, provide an unparalleled journey through history.

The International Festival of Ancient Drama

Veles is home to the International Festival of Ancient Drama “Stobi,” a testament to its enduring theatrical tradition. Held annually since 1992, the festival breathes life into ancient texts with performances in the ancient amphitheater of Stobi, drawing theater enthusiasts from around the globe.

From its ancient roots and cultural landmarks to its breathtaking natural landscapes and vibrant festivals, Veles stands as a testament to Macedonia’s rich heritage and enduring spirit. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or cultural aficionado, Veles offers a mosaic of experiences that capture the essence of Macedonian identity.

As you wander through its streets, explore its monuments, and immerse yourself in its natural beauty, you’ll discover the soul of a nation proud of its past and optimistic about its future.

Veles is a gateway to exploring the rich tapestry of North Macedonia’s history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re marveling at the ancient ruins of Stobi, enjoying a performance at the International Festival of Ancient Drama, or simply soaking in the city’s vibrant atmosphere, Veles promises a memorable experience for all who visit.

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