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Sharr Mountain

Geographic distribution

The Sharr massif is approximately 1600 square kilometers, between Kosovo in the north valley (43% of its surface) and Macedonia in the south (57%). Geographically, it is separated from the Polog Valley in the north, the field of Prizren in the south, and the river Radika in the northwest. Many streams flow through the mountain, and the most important are: Shkumbin, Lesocka, and Mazdraca.

They join with Vardar, to cross Macedonia and to be shed in the Aegean Sea near Thessaloniki (Greece). Two big towns are embedded at the foot of the massif: Tetovo in the Macedonian side and Prizren in Kosovo’s side. This massif is one of the highest in the Balkans with 15 mountain tops over 2500m. It reaches the highest peak ‘Titov Vrv’ with 2747 m. It lays in 80 km length, and a width that changes from 10 km to 30 km. For Tetovo that is only on a 450 m altitude, Sharr Mountain is much emphasized and possesses all the qualities of the average alpine mountains.

The climate, intermixed by the Mediterranean and the Continental

This region is subjected to a double influence: the Mediterranean climate in the north and the Continental climate in the south. The temperatures can go above 40 degrees during the summer and down to -30 degrees in the mountains during the prolonged periods. The precipitation is more frequent during the winter than any other season, with many drifts of snow, which is a big fortune for the skiers and the skiing centre ‘Kodra e Diellit’ (Sunny Hill).

From December to February dense fog invades the fields, and the highest part of the massif remains bare. The forests are mainly composed of beeches, and secondarily of pines and oaks which cover the massif between 600m and 1600m. Over this limit, the trees are more dispersed and open the way for the grasslands.

The rich plant and animal world

The flora is very rich, with approximately 2000 kinds, out of which 150 are permanent. The fauna is represented by a great number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and a huge number of insects. Many of the rare animals that are protected in Europe live in the Sharr Mountain. The emblematic species are:  the brown bear, the lynx and the wolf.

Agriculture, livestock and tourism, Sharr’s potentials

The agriculture is much developed and produces qualitative vegetables. The presence of highlands favours the existence of shepherds, which is an old tradition. The production of cheeses, the harvesting of bilberries, the manual mowing and the livestock are always part of the customs and the tradition of the villagers.

Tourism is developed as well. Except for the skiing centre Sunny Hill, the touristic potential of the mountain is still underestimated because not enough is known. The territory is not still classified as a protected zone, which contradicts Kosovo’s side. The rising awareness for this mountain ecosystem is quite slow; however a project for a National Park gives lots of hope.

The traditional house of Sharr

The widespread traditional residence in the massif of Sharr is a double level house. The walls of entrance are from stone, and approximately in every meter there are wooden armatures which secure the foundations of the house from every disaster. This level is used for keeping the grass and preserving the animals. A wooden balcony known as ‘çardak’ is reachable from the outside stairs. It is deep and protected with the roof. In the summer months it is the place where the peppers, onions, garlic cloves and other products are dried up. The roof in all the four sides is traditionally from straw or from flat stones, but today they are often replaced with roof-tiles.

From the outside the house is protected with a wall, and in its opposite there are gardens. The first floor is a granary, and the ground floor for the animals.

 The shepherd and the dog, Sharr’s emblem

During the summer a great number of sheep are sent to the north of the Sharr Mountain, where there is a lot of grass. Once, this departure to the north has been the main source of the region, as testified by the passenger recitals or the remains of Galicnik that date from the XIX century.

Today, this kind of departure is less developed, but a great number of the livestock still feed there. Some nice summer huts of the shepherds lay on both sides of the valleys. The livestock is protected from the preys by the dog of Sharr. This huge dog, the emblem of the massif, is known from 1957.

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