Last updated
Vardar Veles Macedonia.jpg
Vardar in Veles
Countries North Macedonia and Greece
Physical characteristics
  location Vrutok, near Gostivar
Aegean Sea, near Thessaloniki
40°30′27″N22°43′3″E / 40.50750°N 22.71750°E / 40.50750; 22.71750 Coordinates: 40°30′27″N22°43′3″E / 40.50750°N 22.71750°E / 40.50750; 22.71750
Length388 km (241 mi)

The Vardar ( /ˈvɑːrdɑːr/ ; Macedonian : Loudspeaker.svg Вардар  , Albanian : Vardar or Bardhar [1] ) or Axios (Greek : Αξιός, romanized: Aksiós) is the longest river in North Macedonia and the second longest river in Greece, in which it reaches the Aegean Sea at Thessaloniki. [2] It is 388 km (241 mi) long, out of which 76 km are in Greece, [2] and drains an area of around 25,000 km2 (9,653 sq mi). The maximum depth of the river is 4 m (13 ft).



The etymology of the word is unclear. However most probably, the origin of the name Vardar derives from Vardários from Thracian, from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) *(s)wordo-wori- ("black water"). [3] [4] It can be considered a translation or similar meaning of Axios, which itself is Thracian for 'not-shining' from PIE *n.-sk(e)i (cf. Avestan axšaēna ("dark-coloured")). [5] It is found in another name of the city at the mouth of the Danube, called Axíopa ("dark water") in Thracian, which was later translated into Slavic as Cernavodă (“black water”). [6] The name Vardários (Βαρδάριος) was sometimes used by the Ancient Greeks in the 3rd century BC. The same name was widely used in the Byzantine era. [6] The word may ultimately be derived from the PIE root werǵ- , which is also the source of the English work .

Its Greek name, Axios (Ancient Greek : Ἀξιός), is mentioned by Homer (Il. 21.141, Il. 2.849) [7] as the home of the Paeonians allies of Troy.


Vardar in Skopje: the Stone Bridge Vardar Stone Bridge Skopje.jpg
Vardar in Skopje: the Stone Bridge

The river rises at Vrutok, a few kilometers southwest of Gostivar in North Macedonia. It passes through Gostivar, Skopje and into Veles, crosses the Greek border near Gevgelija, Polykastro and Axioupoli ("town on the Axiós"), before emptying into the Aegean Sea in Central Macedonia, west of Thessaloniki in northern Greece.

The Vardar basin comprises two-thirds of the territory of North Macedonia. The valley features fertile lands in the Polog region, around Gevgelija and in the Thessaloniki regional unit. The river is surrounded by mountains elsewhere. The superhighways Greek National Road 1 in Greece and M1 and E75 run within the valley along the river's entire length to near Skopje.

The river was very famous during the Ottoman Empire and remains so in modern-day Turkey as the inspiration for many folk songs, of which the most famous is Vardar Ovasi. It has also been depicted on the coat of arms of Skopje, which in turn is incorporated in the city's flag. [8]

Project to construct the Danube-Vardar-Aegean Canal

The project to construct the Danube-Morava-Vardar-Aegean Canal has been a dream for a long time. [9] Le Figaro published a project of Athens and Belgrade on 28.08.2017. The Greek-Serbian proposal made in Beijing is Pharaonic: 651 km. A project worth 17 billion. [10]

Vardaris wind

The Vardaris or Vardarec is a powerful prevailing northerly ravine wind which blows across the river valley in Greece as well as in North Macedonia. At first it descends along the "canal" of the Vardar valley, usually as a breeze. When it encounters the high mountains that separate Greece from North Macedonia, it descends the other side, gathering a tremendous momentum and bringing cold conditions to the city of Thessaloniki and the Axios delta. Somewhat similar to the mistral wind of France, it occurs when atmospheric pressure over eastern Europe is higher than over the Aegean Sea, as is often the case in winter.

See also

Related Research Articles

Geography of North Macedonia

North Macedonia is a country situated in southeastern Europe with geographic coordinates 41°50′N22°00′E, bordering Kosovo and Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south and Albania to the west. The country is part of the wider region of Macedonia and makes up most of Vardar Macedonia. The country is a major transportation corridor from Western and Central Europe to Southern Europe and the Aegean Sea. North Macedonia is a landlocked country but has three major natural lakes: Lake Ohrid, Lake Prespa and Lake Dojran. It has a water area of 857 km2, while its land area is 24,856 km2.

The following is a summary of the transport system of the Republic of North Macedonia.

Geography of Serbia

Serbia is a sovereign state situated at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the far southern edges of the Pannonian Plain and the central Balkans. It shares borders with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Albania through the disputed territory of Kosovo. Serbia is landlocked, though it is able to access the Adriatic Sea through Montenegro and inland Europe and the Black Sea via the Danube.

Vardar Banovina

The Vardar Banovina, or Vardar Banate, was a province (banate) of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia between 1929 and 1941.

Struma (river)

The Struma or Strymónas is a river in Bulgaria and Greece. Its ancient name was Strymṓn. Its drainage area is 17,330 km2 (6,690 sq mi), of which 10,797 km2 (4,169 sq mi) in Bulgaria, 6,295 km2 (2,431 sq mi) in Greece and the rest in North Macedonia. It takes its source from the Vitosha Mountain in Bulgaria, runs first westward, then southward, forming a number of gorges, enters Greek territory at the Kula village. In Greece it is the main waterway feeding and exiting from Lake Kerkini, a significant centre for migratory wildfowl. The river flows into the Strymonian Gulf in Aegean Sea, near Amphipolis in the Serres regional unit. The river's length is 415 kilometres (of which 290 kilometres in Bulgaria, making it the country's fifth-longest and one of the longest rivers that run solely in the interior of the Balkans.

Great Morava

The Great Morava is the final section of the Morava, a major river system in Serbia.

West Morava

West Morava is a river in Central Serbia, a 184 km-long headstream of the Great Morava, which it forms with the South Morava. It was known as Brongos in antiquity.

Gostivar Place in Polog, North Macedonia

Gostivar, is a city in North Macedonia, located in the upper Polog valley region. It is one of the largest municipalities in the country with a population of 81,042, and the town also covers 1.341 square kilometres. Gostivar has road and railway connections with the other cities in the region, such as Tetovo, Skopje, Kičevo, Ohrid, and Debar. A freeway was built in 1995, from Gostivar to Tetovo, 24 km (15 mi) long. Gostivar is the seat of Gostivar Municipality.

Gevgelija Town in Southeastern, North Macedonia

Gevgelija is a town with a population of 15,685 located in the very southeast of the North Macedonia along the banks of the Vardar River, situated at the country's main border with Greece (Bogorodica-Evzoni), the point which links the motorway from Skopje and three regional capitals, Belgrade, Zagreb, and Sofia with Thessaloniki in Greece. The town is the seat of Gevgelija municipality.

Makedonski Železnici

Makedonski Železnici is the public enterprise for railways in the Republic of North Macedonia. Railway operations are run by Železnici na Republika Severna Makedonija Transport and the infrastructure maintained by Makedonski Železnici Infrastruktura.

Municipalities of North Macedonia

The municipalities are the first-order administrative divisions of North Macedonia.


The Nišava or Nishava is a river in Bulgaria and Serbia, a right tributary, and with a length of 218 km also the longest one, of the South Morava.

Jakupica range

Jakupica or Mokra is a mountain range in the central part of North Macedonia. The headwaters of the Axios river, mentioned by Homer as the home of the Paeonians allies of Troy, spring from its flanks.

Bogdanci Town in Southeastern, North Macedonia

Bogdanci is a small town in North Macedonia, close to the border with Greece. It is located at around 41°12′11″N22°34′32″E, and is the seat of Bogdanci Municipality.

South Morava

The South Morava is a river in eastern Kosovo and in southern Serbia, which represents the shorter headwater of Great Morava. Today, it is 295 km long, including its source river Binačka Morava. It flows generally in the south to north direction, from the Macedonian border to Kosovo and onwards to Central Serbia, where it meets West Morava at Stalać, to create Great Morava.

Pčinja (river)

The Pčinja is a 135 km long river in Serbia and North Macedonia, a left tributary of the Vardar river.

Motorways in North Macedonia

The motorways in North Macedonia are called avtopat and the name, like its translation in most languages, simply means auto road.

Gradsko, North Macedonia Place in Vardar, North Macedonia

Gradsko is a village located in the central part of North Macedonia. It is the seat of the Gradsko municipality. It is located very close to the main motorway which links Gevgelija on North Macedonia's border with Greece.

Battle of Krivolak

The Battle of Krivolak was a World War I battle, fought between 21 October and 22 November 1915. The battle was fought in the initial stage of the Macedonian campaign, in the Balkans Theatre. On October 21, Bulgarian troops attacked the French-held positions near the Strumica rail station, at the time part of the Kingdom of Serbia, starting the battle. Fighting continued until November 22, when two Serbian divisions failed to capture Skopje, thus rendering the continuation of Entente offensive operations dangerous and forcing the French to evacuate their forces from the region.

Transportation Center Skopje

Transportation Center Skopje is the main city bus and railway station in the Republic of North Macedonia capital Skopje. It was built after the 1963 Skopje earthquake that destroyed the Original station buildings. The station is served by Long-distance trains to Belgrade, Thessaloniki, Athens and Ljubljana, and Express routes to Thessaloniki, via Vienna that serve Skopje twice daily, once going to Thessaloniki and second time returning to Vienna, passing though Belgrade and Ljubljana. The Skopje railway station is 15 min walking from the main square Makedonija.


  1. "Cili ishte emri i vërtet i lumit Vardar në kohën e Ilirëve?". Bota Sot. Retrieved 2020-12-02.
  2. 1 2 "The rivers – Axios Delta National Park". Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  3. Orel, Vladimir. A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2003: 392.
  4. Mallory, J.P. and D.Q. Adams. Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. London: Fitzroy and Dearborn, 1997: 147
  5. Mallory, J.P. and D.Q. Adams. Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. London: Fitzroy and Dearborn, 1997, p. 146
  6. 1 2 Katičic', Radoslav. Ancient Languages of the Balkans. Paris: Mouton, 1976: 149
  7. Axios, Georg Autenrieth, A Homeric Dictionary, at Perseus
  8. Official portal of the city of Skopje: City symbols. – Retrieved on 13 May 2009.
  9. The Project to Construct the Danube-Aegean Canal(2013)
  10. The Greek-Serbian proposal made in Beijing