Kërçovë, Кичево, Kičevo, Kichevo, Exploring North Macedonia

Kičevo – Exploring North Macedonia

Kičevo is a town in the western part of North Macedonia. The name is spelled Кичево in Macedonian, a language that is using the Cyrillic letters. It is also known by its Albanian name Kërçovë. The town has a population of around 23.000 inhabitants, made up of around 50% Macedonians and 20% Albanians. Other larger minorities include Turks and Romani. This makes the town fairly split between Muslims and Christian Orthodox, creating a situation where churches and mosques have been built almost next to each other.

Our Visit to Kičevo

We visited Kičevo during the summer of 2023. Our visit was a stop on our way from Ohrid to Skopje. This allowed us to see a town that is far from the normal tourist destinations.

A Short History of Kičevo

Kičevo was originally known as Uskana, at a time when it was inhabited by the Illyrians. The Illyrians were a group of people that together with the Greeks and Tracians inhabited the Balkans around 2000 years ago. The name Uskana was used at least until the 2nd century. From the 11th century onwards many names have been used, such as Kitsabis, Kicavis, and even Katin Grad. At its center since Ancient times is the old fortress Kitino Kale, which has seen many uses over the centuries.

The city has been ruled by many empires over the centuries. These include the Byzantine, the Bulgarian, The Serbian, and then eventually the Ottoman. The Ottoman Period for Kičevo came to an end in 1913, when the whole region was incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbia. Except for the time of the World Wars, the town was a part of what was to become Yugoslavia. During the World Wars Kičevo was occupied. In the First World War, the town was occupied by the Kingdom of Bulgaria. During the Second World War, it was occupied by Italy and became a part of the Italian protectorate of Albania.

Kičevo was a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1945 up until the independence of North Macedonia in 1991.

Things to Do and See

The main attraction here is probably the Kitino Kale, the fortress, but how to access it was something that we were unable to figure out. For the one interested in religion, there are also several churches and mosques to see, many located close to the town center. In the center, there is also the Museum of West Macedonia, which seems to have unknown opening conditions according to online sources. It is otherwise the central streets, with a few shops, cafés, and restaurants that are within easy reach for visitors. These streets are quite cozy for a short stroll.

How to Get to Kičevo

  • Flights: The nearest airport is Ohrid St. Paul The Apostle Airport (OHD) located to the south, the airport mainly has seasonal flights. The country’s main airport, Skopje International Airport (SKP), lies a bit further away to the northeast.
  • Car: Kičevo is located along the main road between Skopje and Ohrid and at the intersection between roads A2, E-65, and R1303.

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