Sveti Jovan Bigorski Monastery

sights / Religious

Lonely Planet review

This revered 1020 Byzantine monastery is off the Debar road. Legend attests an icon of Sveti Jovan Bigorski (St John the Forerunner, ie St John the Baptist) miraculously appeared, and since then it's been rebuilt often – the icon occasionally reappearing too. The impressive church also houses Jovan's alleged forearm.

Bigorski's awe-inspiring iconostasis was the final of just three carved by local craftsmen Makarije Frčkovski and the brothers Filipovski between 1829 and 1835. This colossal work depicting biblical scenes is enlivened with 700 tiny human and animal figures. Gazing up at this enormous, intricate masterpiece is breathtaking. Upon finishing, the carvers allegedly flung their tools into the nearby Radika River – ensuring that the secret of their artistic genius would be washed away forever.