Macedonia has a rich cultural history in the fields of art, architecture, poetry, and music. It is home to a number of historic, protected religious sites. Annual poetry, film, and music festivals are held. Byzantine church music had a significant impact on Macedonian music genres. Macedonia contains a large number of surviving Byzantine fresco paintings, mostly from the 11th to 16th century. Several thousand square metres of fresco painting have been conserved, the most of which are in excellent condition and constitute masterworks of the Macedonian School of ecclesiastical painting.
The Ohrid Summer Festival of Classical Music and Drama, the Struga Poetry Evenings, which gather poets from more than 50 countries around the world, the International Camera Festival in Bitola, the Open Youth Theatre, and the Skopje Jazz Festival are among the most important cultural events in the country. The Macedonian Opera debuted in 1947 with a production of Cavalleria rusticana directed by Branko Pomorisac. Every year, the May Opera Evenings take place in Skopje for about 20 nights. In May 1972, Kiril Makedonski’s Tsar Samuil was the inaugural May Opera performance.
Macedonian cuisine is typical of the Balkans, exhibiting Mediterranean (Greek) and Middle Eastern (Turkish) influences, as well as Italian, German, and Eastern European (particularly Hungarian) influences. Macedonia’s moderately warm temperature promotes the development of a wide range of vegetables, herbs, and fruits. As a result, Macedonian cuisine is very varied.
Macedonian cuisine is famous for its rich Šopska salad, an appetiser and side dish that goes with virtually every meal. It is also known for the variety and quality of its dairy products, wines, and native alcoholic drinks, such as rakija. Tavče Gravče and mastika are the Republic of Macedonia’s national food and drink, respectively.