The art and culture of Macedonia has a rich cultural heritage in art, architecture, poetry, and music. It's the culture of the Macedonian population of the Balkan region, known in the 20th century as Vardar Macedonia or the current Republic of Macedonia. Through its turbulent history, the art and culture of Macedonia has captured moments of the human existence, life, pain, suffering and aesthetics of the region depicting Macedonian psyche and character, preserved individuality and maintained in the national consciousness.
The official language of Macedonia is 'Macedonian'. It's also the most widely spoken language in Macedonia belonging to the Eastern branch of the South Slavic language group. The Macedonians gave the first literary language. This old language was the common language of all the Southern, the Eastern and part of the Western people for a long period of time. Besides a wide variety of languages are spoken like the Albanian, Turkish, Serbian, Bulgarian, Romani, Vlach, Circassian, Greek and others are spoken roughly in proportion with their associated ethnic groups.
The majority of the population, 64.7% belongs to the Macedonian Orthodox Church which is still unrecognized. Muslims and other Christians comprise the rest of the population. The root of the Christian religion goes back to the 10th century with the creation of the Macedonian Archbishopric in Ohrid.
In the 19th century the first representatives of modern Macedonian literature made their appearance. The ideas and sentiments of Enlightenment and rationalism were first introduced by Joakim Krcovski and Kiril Pejcinovik. The development of Macedonian Literature from the period of the middle of the 19th century has been marked by the works of Dimitar and Konstantin Miladinov, Grigor Prlicev, and Rajko Zinzifov.
Macedonia's art and culture has an exceptionally rich musical heritage. A strong influence of Byzantine church music developed in its musical styles. Traditional Slavic Macedonian's spiritual and church choir hymns formed a significant contribution to Macedonian and Balkan cultural history. Another cherished area of Macedonian culture is its Folk music and several folk festivals take place every year. Macedonia is also the home to the greatest present time composer Jovan Kukuzela, who lived in the 14th century. Modern day institutions, viz the Macedonian Philharmonic orchestra, Opera, Ballet, Academy of Music, and the Folklore institute, have contributed to the development of musical life in Macedonia since 1945.
In the culture of Macedonia there are 13 professional theaters. About 870 professional actors, singers, ballet dancers, directors, playwrights, set and costume designers, etc. are members of the Macedonian National Theatre (Drama, Opera and Ballet companies), the Drama Theatre, the Theatre of the Nationalities (Albanian and Turkish Drama companies) and the other theatre companies. Professional theatre for children and amateur also make up the theatrical world.
The past meets the present in the art and culture of Macedonia, especially in its age-old architecture, monasteries and churches of exquisite beauty making an interesting contrast to the super modern new architecture. Characterized by unique architecture and priceless frescoes and icons the cultural monuments of the 11th and 12th century churches of Eastern medieval Bulgaria (modern Macedonia) are quite famous throughout the world. The mosques, bazaars and baths from the Ottoman Age all carry a striking resemblance to the Islamic culture.
Macedonia has some of the most outstanding gifted painters, sculptures and graphic artists of its time. Its one of the countries with the most beautiful preserved Byzantine fresco paintings from the period between the 11th and 16th centuries. The culture of Macedonia has the countries most outstanding works of the mediaeval masters of fresco and icon-paintings.
Also referred to as Slav Macedonian cuisine, it represents the Balkans, Turkish, Bulgarian, Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine. Mediterranean to some extent Italian and also Hungarian influence can be felt in the Macedonian cuisine. A variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits grow because of the relatively warm climate. It's famous for its rich 'Shopska' salad, a must for every meal besides its different types of dairy products, wines, and local alcoholic beverages, such as 'rakija' and 'mastika'. Overall a diverse range of cuisine greets the Macedonian art and culture.