Crvena Stena: History in the Trenches

Story: Fighting in southern Macedonia during World War I began in 1916 and lasted for 22 months. In the city and area surrounding Bitola, there was heavy loss of life during almost two years of fighting. In this time span, more than 45,000 men were either killed or designated MIA (missing in action).

Shelling with heavy artillery was conducted from Pelister National Park on Baba Mountain and Crvena Stena. The fighting wiped out most of the buildings in several surrounding villages and led to significant losses of life and property in Bitola. Fighting for strategic position on the peaks, soldiers used rifles with bayonets and grenades. Chemical warfare and flamethrowers were also used. This was reportedly the first place where the Bulgarian army used flamethrowers with which they inflicted a heavy loss of lives for the French and the Allied Forces.

The front in Macedonia was called the Salonika Front. The Allied forces breakthrough here was a critical point in the war.

Vibe: Today, Crvena Stena is a quiet setting. Like an unattended outside museum exhibit, signage exists around a key viewing spot and several areas where natural trenches that were repeatedly won and lost are still visible.

Recommendations: You can start at the Pelister National Park information center and head up or at Hotel Molika and head down the mountain. Either way, it will only take you about 10-15 minutes to get to Crvena Stena by foot. Once there, plan for at least an hour to take in the signage and the trenches. It is possible to climb down into the trenches and envision what it might have been like in Crvena Stena.

Notes: If you want to see more of the trenches, then plan for a much longer hike up to the River of Rocks while following the signage to the historical points.

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