Eight kilometers from the city of Tetovo, on the southeastern foot of the Shar Mountain, lies the village of Leshok. Situated in a beautiful natural setting, enriched with pure mountain air, the village, with its extremely favorable climatic features, is one of the most pleasant and healthiest places in Macedonia. For these reasons, for about fifty years already, there is a hospital for lung diseases satiated nearby.
The famous Leshok Monastery is situated in the so-called Gorno Leshok neighborhood, at an altitude of 610 meters. In its complex, there are the church of St. Athanasius and the church of the Holy Mother of God, as well as the grave and the memorial room of Cyril Pejchinovich, one of the most famous Macedonian educators of the 19th Century. With his arrival from Mount Athos, in 1818, the monastery dormitories were restored, the monastery library was founded and Leshok grown to be a literary and educational center.
The Church of St. Athanasius, Leshok Monastery, Tetovo
There are two churches in the village of Leshok that are dedicated to Saint Athanasius, one of them being older and the other from a more recent date.
The old church is now in ruins and can be reached by the road leading to the village of Brezno. It dates from the 14th Century. It was built preserving Byzantine manner of stone, brick and limestone and has marble floors. Several marble columns from the iconostasis with capitols decorated with human and animal heads are kept in the Tetovo museum. The church was painted immediately after its construction.
The more recent church was built in 1924 and is located in the monastery, next to the church of the Holy Mother of God and the hospices.
The Church of the Holy Mother of God, Leshok Monastery, Tetovo
The exact time of construction of the church of the Holy Mother of God is unknown. The oldest data about it is from the first half of the 14th Century, i.e. from 1326, but it is believed that it was built before the 14th Century.
The church is in the shape of a trikonhos, with three-sided conches on the outside and a narthex that was attached later. There are three layers of frescoes on the walls originating from different periods. The oldest layer is from the time of the construction of the church, the second one is from the 17th century and the newest layer is from 1879. The last fresco-painter of the church is a painter from Galicnik, Mihail Zhurchinov, who is also the author of several icons on its iconostasis.
The monastery lodgings and overnight shelters are restored and available for accommodation. They are especially suitable for summer monastery tourism.
Near the monastery, there is a regular, every half hour, bus service from and to Tetovo.
Find the Macedonian version of this article here.