St Nicholas Church - Mavrovo – Mavrovo, North Macedonia - Atlas Obscura

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St Nicholas Church - Mavrovo

Mavrovo, North Macedonia

Depending on the region's rainfall, this church may be partially submerged.  

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Saying that St Nicholas Church (aka St. Nikolas) is located in Mavrovo is correct, but it may be confusing since Mavrovo can refer to a village, a lake, a valley, and a national park. Fortunately, the church is located in all of these entities. Movrovo village is on the shore of Movrovo Lake, along Mavrovo Valley, which is part of Mavrovo National Park.  

Mavrovo village is perched on the slopes of the Bistra Mountains overlooking Mavrovo Lake, an artificial body of water that was created in 1947 by damming the Mavrovo River. Once water filled the basin, some buildings were submerged. Only one of these buildings is still standing: St Nicholas Church. 

Although it’s roofless, the sturdy stone walls of St Nicholas Church have withstood the test of time. A solitary image of St Nicholas sits in the middle of the iconostasis behind the altar table. Two stands for votive candles are placed in front of the altar, and a couple of columns rest obliquely against the walls. 

The floor has significant dips and swells caused by years of flooding and exposure to the elements. There are no other items to speak of inside the church, except some random construction tools.

A note to the hopefuls: the church is not always submerged. It depends on the amount of rainfall. In fact, the church has remained above the water level from 2019 to the present day. Even though it is not as scenic, an advantage of visiting the site when the church is not submerged is that one can enter the premise. 

The re-emergence of St. Nicholas Church after the flooding is seen by some believers as a sign that God is protecting the site.

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July 18, 2022

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