Home / Eastern Europe Scenic Bits: The Šar Mountains

Eastern Europe Scenic Bits: The Šar Mountains

Situated in western Macedonia and southern Kosovo, there lies a wondrous place most readers will never have heard tell of. The Šar Mountains (Sharr) are some of the most remote and impassable peaks in the Balkans, in Europe in general in fact.

Mount Korab, Republic of Macedonia

Mount Korab, Republic of Macedonia - courtesy Don macedone

Rugged to the extreme, these mysterious mountains are dotted with alpine lakes, as well as local lore. Fabulous valleys, streams, and impenatrable cliffs meet the deep blue sky in this almost fairytale speck on our Earth. Noted for the valleys and especially the agricultrual products made there (like marvelous cheeses), the principle settlements of Tetovo and Gostivar, and the ski resort at Popova Sapka, “almost” transport a bit of urban atmosphere to these pristine mountains. You’ll not I said “almost”, for the literal “wildness” of this range cannot be mistaken.

High in the Shar

High in the Shar

Rich in water resources and biodiversity, backpackers and naturalists are the biggest tourism niche to partake of this gem destination. The place is so wild in fact, most visitors actually employ guides to show them the most interesting aspects, and the safest ones too. Yes, wild places do have their pitfalls, including the friendly looking bear below.

Shar Mountains bear finding food

Yes there are bears in Europe - courtesy Tetovo Government

Whether you’re investigating the famed Illyrian Mountain Dog (one of the world’s oldest breeds) or seeking virgin extreme snowboarding territory high up (see below) Montenegro and the Šar Mountains are a rare jewel of a discovery, and one right next door. For the best images and info on these fabulous montains the reader can visit the links above or especially the Sar Mountains National Park site here, and the wonderful images of Ship Mountain from both sides here.

Video courtesy the thrill seekers of Teton Gravity Research.


  1. metropolis says

    About the dogs in the last part, i would like to inform you that Ilirian dog doesn’t exist in FCI, the name of the dog that you are thinking of is Sharplaninec, registered as FCI Standard N° 41 / 03.10.1980/ GB

    Please check information about things before you publish them.

    Best regards

    • says

      Hi Metropolis. I am aware that this breed has been bone (no pun) of contention for some time. I will look into this some more as a matter of course. However, since a segment of the population of the region consider the dog of Ilirian origins, I have a bit of duty to investigate further, as you suggest.

      Despite the standard you recommend, facts are not always strictly tied to what was ordained. Let’s discuss this and found out more.

      [Update] It’s the same animal. The name was changed at the request of the Yugoslav Canine Federation. Now, I don’t have the time to fly to Macedonia and begin a Shepard Dog archaeological dig, but it seems logical to me on short notice to assume this breed came from the Enchelei tribe of Illyrian’s in the region sometime around the 8th and 7th centuries BC, if not neighboring tribes. I will continue to research the animal out of my own interest. May I suggest, however, that “barking” at one another before the fact of any matter, is not a doggone necessity?


  2. says

    Is it just me, or is it obvious that, since the breed was initially recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1939 as the Illyrian Shepherd Dog we have no case to argue here? The FCI changed the name to Yugoslav Shepherd Dog-Šarplaninac only in 1957. And since, Metropolis, you seem to be such a fan of exact information, the official name is spelled Šarplaninac or Sarplaninac (pronounced shar-pla-nee-natz) and not Sharplaninec. Here’s your official standard if you don’t believe me: http://www.ukcdogs.com/Web.nsf/Breeds/Sarplaninac07012009