If you travel around Southeast Europe and the Balkans, the best place for hiking is definitely Kokino. Acording to NASA, this archaeo-astronomical site is the forth-oldest megalithic observatory in the world. It is located in the north-eastern part of Macedonia at 19 kilometres from the town of Kumanovo and in the village vicinity of Kokino.
The complex has been formed from volcanic rocks. It has a conical form with a saddle at the top, and it belongs to the volcanic area of Kratovo and Zletovo. The natural tendency of these andesite rocks to crack vertically and horizontally caused forming of almost ideal cubic rock blocks. These could be easily shaped and wisely used by the prehistoric dwellers as areas/positions for observing the movement of the sun, the moon and for performing religious rituals as well as creating one of the first calendars in the world.
There was a settlement that existed in the prehistoric period, from 19th to 7th century BC, which was formed at the southeast slope of the hill.
The most important characteristic of the observatory includes positions for observation. The ancients carved ritual rooms, precise markers, and thrones out of solid rock. Special stone markers used for marking all movement characteristics of the Sun and Moon have been found on the east horizon, as well as stone seats known as thrones. The observatory used a method of static observation marking positions of the Sun at the winter and summer solstice, as well as the equinox. Archaeological excavations were carried out on the upper platform where valuable material was found, mostly ceramic fragments, but also pyramidal weights, fragments of two hones (grind stones), made of filitic slate and kelt mould.
One of the most attractive rituals noted at Kokino was the ritual of the sacred union of the Great Mother Earth and her Son, the Sun. The ritual was performed in mid-summer and it was probably related to the end of the harvest season.
There are theories that the Kokino megalithic observatory was part of a larger city after a network of 10 temples was discovered nearby. Stone drawings and figurines have also been discovered and if Kokino is identified as an ancient civilization, it could the oldest known in the Balkans.
Today the region is sparsely populated with less that 1000 inhabitants living in the area of the ten nearby villages. The Ministry of Culture recently announced that Kokino will be more heavily promoted in the future through programs and action plans that will make it more accessible to tourists. Easier access to tourists will be made possible through road signs, information boards, paths and souvenir shops.
The best time to visit Kokino is from May to October. Full day hiking tours can be arranged from Kumanovo where guides lead tourists to Kokino. Going to the site during the solstice allows tourists to sit on the throne and marvel at the ingenuity of it.