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A peace of heaven on earth, Cave Alilica, Macedonia

In the western part of Macedonia is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country.
Amazing natural beauty, cultural and historical monuments, beautiful villages, places with a long and rich history. Would last for days if I try to describe what can you see here, but I will say, this area is a small piece of paradise.

Mountain around Tresonce

Approximately one and a half hours drive from Skopje, following traffic signs; we are turning from the highway and move towards National Park Mavrovo, famous ski center in Macedonia. This small road is known as old road for Debar.

We are driving slowly because the road is narrow and very curvy.
On the place called Boškov Most, we are turning left, and continue to drive on the narrow road, fortunately paved, moving into the heart of Mount Bistra.

After a twenty minute ride, beautiful scenery opens in front of us: we enter the village of Tresonce, one of the oldest villages in Macedonia. Place known for its rich history, and the birthplace of many famous masons, painters and professors.

St. Peter and Paul church

In the winter period in the village only 3 people are living, but during the summer period the village is overcrowded. Situated on the slopes of the Bistra Mountain, surrounded from all sides by hills, it makes it invisible for the outside world.

surrounded from all sides by hills, it makes it invisible for the outside world.
On entering the village you are met by two churches St. Peter and Paul and St. Nicholas. Inside, in the backyard of church St.Peter and Paul we saw graves belonging to the Orthodox Church dignitaries.

You can spend all day looking at the village moving along the narrow streets, marveling at the village architecture or walking in rural meadows, enjoying the beautiful landscape.

But, if you want more adventure, you need to go to the famous Cave Alilica, only 4 kilometers east of the village, situated at 1450 meters above sea level.

The cave is reached by a narrow forest path. All the way from your left side is a river, called Tresonecka River.

Tresonecka River

On this trip, the team is composed of experienced guides, speleologists and certainly a medical team, but it is always interesting if you are accompanied with some of the locals, and we had luck to have one representative of local people in our team.

At the beginning of our journey, we passed an old building set in the middle of the river. We looked each other confused, does not look like mill, what could it be? Our friend understood our confusion, and began his story.

In 1950’s when Macedonia was part of Yugoslavia, a group of students from one high school conducted a project building a small Hydropower Plant, so the village could be supplied with electricity. They succeeded in doing it, so the plant worked for a while, but the man couldn’t remember why it was shut down. Proudly adds, that if we try to switch it on the plant, it will start working, but we both knew that its place is in the history, because just a few hundred meters above, a new modern Hydropower plant is built.

Old Hydropower- plant

He continues talking about the legends associated with the cave and how it got its name. “There are more but I will tell you the most interesting ones” he decided.

He started his first story about a shepherd named Alil. He had a herd of sheep here, but he loved to steal from other shepherds. So he started his plan, taking ships from other, killing them and tosses them in the river, where his sister later extracted them from the river and carried them home. When the other shepherds discovered his plan, they caught and killed him throwing his body in the Cave.

The other story is talking about person with a same name-Alil, but this man was known and infamous Pasha. Returning from surrounding villages where he collected taxes from poor peasants, he was attacked near the Cave from a group of men that wanted to rob him.

He managed to escape and hid the money in the cave. Some say that he returned and took his money, others claim his wealth is still hidden somewhere in the cave.

The last story is talking about a girl called Lila. One day Lila didn`t return to the village, so the villagers decided to look for her in the surrounding forest and around the cave. They chanted her name, and this is how the Cave it got its name. Was the girl found, he could not recall.

Interesting legends!

About 45 minutes of walking we reached the cave opening that is 2 meters high and 5.5 meters wide.

Opening of Lower Cave

The river

Alilica is a cave system composed of two caves – Upper and Lower Alilica, interconnected with vertical channel.

The upper cave is dry. Moving along the channel we found small halls, in some of them there are cave pillars. While walking around, we continuously are looking the remains of osteological material (animal bones) of cave bear that lived here many centuries ago.

Until now, there were no archaeological research, which could give us data about was the cave inhabited in same time with cave bears and men who used the cave as their shelter, their home.

To get to the opening of the lower cave we have to cross a small river that passes before the opening of the cave. The river is small but with very cold water.

Once the crew passes the river, we started entering the cave one by one. At first, we went to a small gallery, so we couldn’t suggest what awaits us next.
At the end of this small gallery, the path sharply took us down in 4 meters of depth. But astute speleologists made wooden ladder, and it was easy for us to get down into another gallery.

The narrow pas to the main gallery

We are in the main gallery, its dark, hearing sounds of river flows. With our lamps we started to illuminate the gallery and there was stunning scenery. A river is flowing inside, dividing the gallery on two parts. The river through the wall of the cave finds its way out to the outside world, blending with the other river that we left at the opening of the cave.

River inside the Cave

The gallery has countless number of small basins filled with water, around them and large number of stalagmite with different shapes: some of them are taller than the others; some are round, some thinner… but all very beautiful.

Main gallery

Decorations in main gallery

Decorations in main gallery

At the end, gallery allows us to choose on witch path to continue our search – to move down and follow the river, or to go up. But the guides worn us, “Be careful, it is very easy to get lost in here”.

After we fulfill our eyes and souls with this underground beauty, we decided to get out of the cave. Outside, once again we were greeted by this small river; we passed and stopped to rest.

Most important, before we started our journey back we counted our self and everybody were here.

Leaving the cave behind us, we silently looked at each other and we made a promise, one day we will return here again.

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