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Valley of the dolls: The stone dolls of Kuklica and the legend of the petrified wedding party

Goran Blazeski

Located in the village of Kuklica, near Kratovo in Macedonia, this stone town offers a spectacular view created by volcanic erosion and climate changes. Being a rare natural phenomenon, it requires specific geological, topographical, hydrographical, vegetative and climate conditions. Kuklica consists of over 140 naturally formed massive stone pillars, reminiscent of human figures, standing there for more than 100,000 years.

Geology aside, this stone town has a fascinating story to tell. According to a local legend, there was once a bricklayer who lived in the village of Kuklica and couldn’t decide which of the two women in the village he should marry. The first woman was beautiful but poor and the second was wealthy but not that beautiful, so he came up with a Solomonic solution to marry both of them on the same day, but at a different time.

Stone town of Kuklica

Stone town of Kuklica

 

The bride and the groom

The bride and the groom

Stone town of Kuklica

Stone town of Kuklica

 

The stone town of Kuklica was created by volcanic erosion and climate changes

The stone town of Kuklica was created by volcanic erosion and climate changes

 

Kuklica consists of over 140 naturally formed massive stone pillars

Kuklica consists of over 140 naturally formed massive stone pillars

This plan might have worked for him since the women lived in different neighborhoods. The wealthy woman lived in the lower part of the village, and the pretty one lived in the upper part.

The bricklayer decided to marry the wealthy girl first. Unfortunately, the music was so loud that the beautiful girl from the upper part of the village could hear the drums and bagpipes while she was waiting for the matchmakers and the groom to come.

Stone town of Kuklica

Stone town of Kuklica

 

The stone formations are situated on the right bank of the Kriva River Valley

The stone formations are situated on the right bank of the Kriva River Valley

 

Stone pillars

Stone pillars

 

Stone town of Kuklica

Stone town of Kuklica

She was curious to see what was going on in the lower part of the village, so she decided to go there since the matchmakers and her loved one were nowhere to be seen. She was horrified to find out that her future husband was about to marry another woman. The girl was so furious that she spat out a horrible curse that turned everyone into stone. The groom, the bride, the matchmakers, and even the beautiful girl were instantly petrified and created the dolls of Kuklica.

This area is known to the locals as “The Merry Wedding” because the matchmakers kept the smiles on their faces and the bride and groom remained in their embrace. The locals gave roles to each doll and visitors can now see the groom and the bride, accompanied by their best man and maid of honor in the center. In front of them is the priest and they are all surrounded by the guests.

The stone dolls called “The Bride and groom” with the other stones in the background

The stone dolls called “The Bride and groom” with the other stones in the background

 

The guests

The guests

 

The maid of honor

The maid of honor

 

Stone pillars

Stone pillars

 

Stone pillars

Stone pillars

 

Kuklitsa

Kuklitsa

 

Stone town of Kuklica

Stone town of Kuklica

Another version of the legend has it that the girl was passionately in love with the groom and she could not accept the fact that he was going to marry another woman, so she cursed the groom, the bride, and all the guests at the wedding. When the groom and the bride kissed, everyone at the wedding transformed into stone dolls.

There is also another legend, less famous among the locals, and it has it that the area of Kuklica was once a forest that was burned down after an ancient battle and it became a wasteland. According to the legend, it was so cold in the area that when the soldiers passed through the wasteland, they froze and turned into rocks.

Stone Village

Stone Village

 

Kuklica

Kuklica

There are many other vivid legends about Kuklica that add even more mysticism to the area. The process of pillar creation is still active, and the locals claim that a new doll appears every 5-6 years. This rare natural phenomenon attracts many visitors, and it is a must-see tourist attraction.

Read another story from us: The Stone Throwers: Early man stoned animals to death

You don’t need an invitation by the groom and the bride to attend their wedding, but make sure to hire a tour guide, since Kuklica is not an easy place to find. However, the journey is totally worth it!