Tuesday, August 12, 2008

5 places i love - #2 stobi

i could have called this week "my favorite ruins," since it's quickly becoming all about ruins. and i actually wrote a little bit about stobi before. but since it's one of the places i love, i simply must write about it again. 

it's an old roman town, first mentioned in writing in 197 BC, that's located in central macedonia, and while once it was just off the via egnatia, now it's just off the big north-south highway leading from central europe through serbia and macedonia, down to thessaloniki. 

when i first visited back in '97, there was no visitor's center, just a shack where there might or might not be an attendant that you should pay your 20 dinars to in order to go in. it's not fenced off and you can wander at will among the baths, basilica, necropolis, aqueducts, pillars and on over to the amphitheatre. when we returned last summer, there was a visitor's center, thanks to a USAID project a couple of years ago. they sold a few gift items and cold cokes and snacks and were very kind and friendly.
we have a habit of visiting ruins during the heat of the day. it tends to be a good way to have it to yourself, as all of the others have the good sense to seek shade during midday. for me, it's the best way to feel the winds of time blowing over you. it's somehow just best if those winds are heated to 40 degrees.  

stobi is blissfully undiscovered. when we were there last summer, we shared it only with a handful of workmen who were setting up the amphitheatre for a concert later that week. i think it's wonderful that they actually use the amphitheatre as a venue for such things. how fantastic to listen to music in such a setting, although we didn't get the chance, as we had to meet our plane home from istanbul and we were still far from there at that point.

there are a number of mosaics at stobi, the best one is this one in what they call a baptistry. but there are others and you can get very close to them and even walk on the mosaic floor of one that must have been a church. i've often thought that these beautiful animal and plant images would be great to reproduce in my own garden or on a table for the garden. i haven't done it yet, but i will eventually.

one of my favorite bits is this example of greek graffiti that you can find on the steps in the amphitheatre. i suppose it's someone's name, but i absolutely adore the thought of some young man (because in my head it must have been a young man) sitting there, etching into the stone. now that's some seriously enduring graffiti.

it's a marvelous place. totally off the beaten path. i like it much better than the more systematically excavated heraclea lycenstis in bitola, macedonia. it's so abandoned and yet so persistently enduring. if you're very quiet, the murmurs of the life that walked the streets and paths are still there on the wind. husband and i once roughly sketched out a screenplay that takes place there. it's a place that provokes the imagination. what more can one really ask?


tangobaby said...

What do I have to do to get you to adopt me? I can dress and feed myself.

I like this Ruins Assigment very much! Everything you've shared so far has been fascinating. More, please?

Boy, now I really can't wait for you to go to Turkey. You'll be like my private travel channel.

ps. That Greek graffiti is very cool (do they know what it says?) and that mosaic floor is beautiful.

polona said...

hey, i was there!
many years ago when these places were all still yugoslavia but anyway... it's an impressive place although what i remember most is the scorching sun...

Barb said...

Okay, now I'm jealous. Do you need anyone to carry your bags, iron your cloths, draw your baths, etc ....

Oh well, I'll have to content myself with enjoying your pictures when you post them. B