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Markovi Kuli

Date of Submission: 24/06/2004
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Délégation permanente de l'ex-République yougoslave de Macédoine auprès de l'UNESCO
Coordinates: 41°24'16" N / 21°33'16"
Ref.: 1918

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The rocky mass called Markovi Kuli are composed of numerous, diverse small denudation forms representing exceptionally fine sculpture of the relief. Similar shapes can be noted in the wider area of Prilep, from the area of Mariovo to Kajmakcalan, but such an intensive concentration and such diversity of micro relief forms as at Markovi Kuli have not been recorded so far in broader environment. This phenomenal wealth of shapes is due, mainly, to the geological composition of the terrain composed of metamorphic rocks (gneiss) broken through by younger granites¬granodiorites (ademelites), climate, relief and plant cover. According to the results from modern geochronological research (Mark Grunenfelder, 1991, Zurich), granites intruded about 300 million of years ago into the older gneisses, the age of which was estimated at about 720 million of years. Later, the complex geological., geotectonic and petrographic development of this part of the terrain led to numerous fissures, faults and specific forms of bending that have played an important role in terms of the evolution of the present physiognomy of the terrain around Markovi Kuli. Relaxation processes of the acid magma product followed up by denudation processes had played a critical role in the formation of specific forms of the relief, through the chemical influence of water, activity of humus acids released by lichen and moss covering the rocks and mechanical activity of temperature fluctuation, freezing of water in fissures of the rocks and air circulation. Those agents had demolished the surface of rock masses, especially fragile granite and gneiss rocks and created specific shapes in their present form. Natural structures of granodiorite rocks date back in the period of the hot granite magma solidification and cooling, which resulted in spherical and parallelopiped rocky blocks.

The entire massif of gneiss and granodiorite is characterized by most diverse, amazing and, one might even say, incredible forms of peaks and bare rocks, columns and spurs, mashrooms, balls, cavern and passage recesses and many other forms. Some of these complex geomorphological forms are of giant size, with a weight of up to several hundreds tons. The configuration of the terrain itself and the favorable geographical position caused this area to be constantly populated, since earliest times (Bronze Age, Iron Age, Antic and Medieval periods). The oldest testimonies of life in this area originate from the period of Neolite. Remains of a settlement from Irone Age have been discovered on the hill of "Cardak", and traces of settlements from the Hellenic and Roman periods have been preserved on the southern slopes of Markovi Kuli. In the 2"d and 4`h centuries, a big settlement of urban nature existed in the area of "Zagrad". The monuments of the Slavic culture, represented by remains, such as the biggest early Medieval Slavic settlement discovered on the Balkan Peninsula, hold an exceptional position within the monumental complex of Markovi Kuli. The Slavic period (9`h-10`h centuries) are also featured with the great necropolis at the south-eastern side of Markovi Kuli and social and political centre, with the throne made of stone, assumed to originate from the period of Slavs' comming to the Balkans. At the beginning of the 3rd century A.D., one of the five biggest towers on the Balkans was built there.

The tower is organized into three defense perimeters, inside of which there are remains of various building structures for different purposes. Building structures of the tower are represented, inter alia, by the Monastery St. Arhangel Mihail, where a composition dating from the second half of 12th century was discovered, while close to it, high quality frescos dating from the middle of the 11 `h century were found on a formerly vertically positioned rock.