Travel Guides: Skopje
Skopje is the capital of Macedonia and is located on the upper side of the river Vardar. In 2000 it had about 600,000 inhabitants. It is the political, economic and cultural center of Macedonia and a major center in metalworking, chemicals, textiles and leather. Industrial development has been accompanied by an intensive development of trade and internal and external banking system, as well as cultural and sports activities.
Skopje was founded by the Romans, the colony being known as Scupi. The location on the Vardar River of the city, promising in terms of strategic and economic terms, made the Romans to raise the town to the rank of capital of their province Lower Moesia. Its strategic location explains the long list of abusers. It was occupied by the Goths, the Slavs, the Byzantines, Bulgarians, Serbs and the Normans until 1392, when it was conquered by the Turks, who remained on the banks of the Vardar until 1912. In that time, it was named Üsküb and was considered one of the most important Ottoman bastions of the Balkans.
In the 2,500 years of existence, the capital of Macedonia was influenced by many civilizations. However, the Roman Empire and the Ottoman Biznatin, have left their mark on the city’s development, especially in its varied architecture. Despite its rich history, Skopje is a city that looks to the future and lovers of the modern have plenty to see here. There are cinemas, hotels and new restaurants, and malls that offer the latest collections, but at lower prices than the rest of Western Europe. The city is also an important cultural center, a lot of theater, sporting events and concerts in which international artists are invited and the best of artists in Macedonia.
The old town is situated on the bank dominated by the terraces. Nerezi (1164) is a neighborhood of medieval monasteries, being decorated with exceptional frescoes dating from the twelfth century. Among the notable buildings also include a medieval Turkish inn, Kursumli and several mosques. Turkish predominant aspect was initially affected by the reconstruction in 1963, when a powerful earthquake destroyed 80% of the city, claiming 1070 deaths and leaving over 120,000 homeless people. Cash and in kind assistance, including medical support in the field of reconstruction technique came from 78 countries.
Because of this, Skopje was named the city of international solidarity. On the left bank of representative offices are located in Macedonia, educational institutions, concert halls, and radio stations and television headquarters. On the right bank is the economic and commercial center. Skopje is an administrative center, commercial and industrial. The city has a cement manufacturing industry, agricultural machinery, bricks, ceramics, glass, alcoholic beverages, canned fruits and vegetables and tobacco processing centers there is also the skin, wood and chrome refinery. Skopje is an important transportation center, is equipped with roads and railroads, but with a modern airport. It also has a university and an engineering school and the Macedonian Academy of Arts.
Skopje Airport, Skopje Aleksandar Makedonski International Airport (Alexander the Great) is 20 km from Skopje. Cities that are connected with Skopje are: Ljubljana, Milan, Vienna, Sarajevo, Sofia, Split, Zagreb, Prague, Cologne, Hamburg, Bonn, Zurich, Belgrade, Ohrid, Dusseldorf, Budapest, Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Istanbul , Paris, and Rome. The airlines serving the city are MAT (Macedonian Airlines), Adria Airways, Malev, Austrian Airlines, Cirrus, Alitalia, B & H Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Czech Airlines, Helvetic Airways, Jat Airways, LTU International, and Turkish Airlines.
The airport can be reached using the main Belgrade-Skopje-Thessaloniki highway, which connects you directly to the city. Unfortunately there is no public transport to make the connection between Skopje and the Airport and so you need to take a taxi or you need to resolve your problem yourself. To come to Skopje by train, you must come either from Serbia or Greece. Skopje is part of the Belgrade-Thessaloniki line sea. From Belgrade the trip will last 9 hours by train. On the other side of Thessaloniki, the trip lasts 5 hours by train. It is a daily train in each direction. If you come from Greece, you must show your passport at a border police (the train), then you need to get off the train and get in a little house outside the train station, to get your passport back.
If you do not know what to do, ask other passengers and look at what they do. They are usually friendly and willing to help. Transportation center includes train and bus stations together. They are located downtown near the Central National Bank. There are buses to Skopje, Sofia, Pristina, Belgrade, Thessaloniki (only on Mondays and Wednesdays), Istanbul, Zagreb, Austria, Germany, Dubrovnik and Podgorica. Buses arrive in the states under the train. All domestic and international buses arrive at this bus stop. This is very modern and new.
Situated on the River Vardar, Skopje is a city that reflects a strong Muslim legacy that has all the country of the Ottoman occupation that lasted from the late fourteenth century until the first decade of the twentieth century. The cultural mix in Skopje gave birth to a animated and varied society. In the morning, during summer, in cafes and green spaces, you can see people playing chess, and in the evening, the cafes and bars inspire the city at 3 o’clock in the morning.
On July 26, 1963 was the earthquake that took place in Skopje which resulted in 75% of buildings having been destroyed in seconds. Subsequently, the reconstruction project has proposed to transform the town into a model city of the socialist world. Unfortunately, the plan was never brought to an end. Several towers of the ancient cathedral and fortress Kale is under reconstruction.
The city was called Skopia (in translation – tower view) by the ancient Greeks, who used this place to oversee the country’s northern borders. In Roman times, the city was mentioned by name Skupi, being the center of the province of Dardania, and under the Turks – Uskup or Uskub. When the Serbs came, the city became Skoplje and was known as such during the Yugoslav kingdom. The name Skopje was given by the Slavs in the late seventh century.
In the Second World War, Macedonia was occupied by Bulgarians, who were allies of the Germans, but soon the town was freed by the Macedonian army. Subsequently, Skopje became the center of industrial, cultural and administrative Socialist Republic of Macedonia in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Under the leadership of Yugoslav, Skopje grew rapidly and became an important industrial center for the southern region of the Balkans and Southeast Europe. In 1991 the Yugoslav Federation disintegrated and Skopje became the capital of independent Republic of Macedonia.
Using a taxi in Skopje should not usually cost more than a few hundred dinars. 50 dinars for the start, including two km. From the train station to the city center is 2 km, so 50 dinars, less than 1 euro. Never let you be convinced to go somewhere where you were not going to get. Skopje’s history dates back 25 centuries. Archaeological discoveries indicate that in the fortress Kale an unidentified population lived there in prehistoric time, between late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Scientists believe that dates back to the year 4000 BC. According to archaeologists, population paion initially populated the city. It was invaded in the third century by Dardania. However, the expansion of ancient Macedonia during Filip II and Alexander III was certainly a positive influence on the Dardans, as confirmed by the board discovered at the tomb of the Skopje fortress.
Roman domination of Macedonia, followed the Roman-Macedonian wars, and meant Scupi’s rule. Roman historian Titus Livius made the first reference to Scupi. Administrators have reorganized the Roman public life and began raising culture and arts at a level never reached before. Due to its geographical crossroads of major roads, Scupi acquired a special role in the Roman Empire. Being a part of the prefecture of Illyricum Roman, Scupi was Latinized, in particular through the colonization of the Roman Legion veterans VII.
The colonization had a significant impact on the population of the city, as shown in the Latin inscriptions on all the tombstones dating from the II, III and IV centuries. While Roman settlers gained citizens rights, indigenous people have lost all political rights, gaining equal status with strangers. Once Latinized, the city has begun to receive Scupi municipal rights. During the reign of Hadrian, in Scupi Roman legislation was introduced, and, therefore, began to appear in chronicles and official documents. During the reign of Tiberius, the primary division of the Balkan provinces, which were later defined by Diocletian and Constantine I.
From the province of Moesia Superior was extracted a new province, Dardania, the latter having the city administrative center at Scupi. In well-known map of Roman roads, Tabula Peutengiriana, Scupi listed as provincial capital. During Roman rule, Scupi became a big city, and as indicated by archaeological discoveries, especially those around the village Bardovci. Besides the Roman Theater many objects have been discovered in the necropolis: expensive glassware or bronze.
Christianity spread early in Scupi having organized their own church since the time of Constantine I. After the legalization of Christianity with the Edict of Milan (313), Scupi became the Episcopal seat. Bishop Dacus held the first ecumenical council from Nicaea (325). Bishop Pregorius held the council at Serdica (343). Subsequently, in 451, Bishop Ursinus king is mentioned in correspondence, while another bishop Scupi 491, Iohannes, is mentioned in the papal correspondence. These findings, together with archaeological findings, indicate the influence of Christianity on society and art.
In 518 the city was totally devastated by an earthquake. Skopje was assaulted by Serbs in 1189, and later by the Turks in 1392; the latter conquered all Macedonia’s capital Skopje and made the province an important commercial center. In 1689 was burnt down by the Austrians to eradicate an outbreak of cholera, which led to the decline of the city. In the 19th century it was to recover with the Belgrade-Thessaloniki railway building. In 1913, after concluding a treaty Skopje goes into Serbia and in 1918 was built by the new Yugoslavia. At the time of the 2nd World War in April 1941, it is occupied by the Germans, and will be defended by the Bulgarian garrison troops. In 1944 is released, and in 1945 became the capital of Macedonia.
The modern city of today, like other Balkan cities, can be understood simply in terms of some knowledge about disasters that have shaped it. Foremost among these was the 1963 earthquake that killed nearly 1,000 people and destroyed much of the buildings and sights of the city, including the homes of 100,000 people. Officer Tito managed to bring aid from both West and the East (including some countries much poorer than Yugoslavia), and began a massive building program. Consequently, much of the architectural sights in Skopje, especially those south of the river Vardar, date from 1960 and 1970. Fortunately, not all cultural heritages was lost in Skopje, the northern half of the city still keeps sights that recall the good old days of the city as important commercial center of the Ottoman Empire.
Cathedral of St. Clement of Orchid – To the west of downtown building is modern Orthodox Cathedral, which is under the patronage of Saint Clement of Orchid. Built in 1972 by architect Slavko Brezovski and saint in 1992, the building’s architecture is based on the vaulting arches and domes. Inside you can admire the massive chandelier and the painting of 70 square meters on the ceiling and the entrance you can buy candles and holy objects.
The Old Skopje Bazaar – Reflecting the Macedonian capital’s cultural links with the Islam, this market, also known as the “Carsija” is full of lively shops to tempt visitors. Perfectly combining tourism and quality orientation practice, the old bazaar is the place where tourists and locals mix. Buyers that are looking for souvenirs can find everything from strong Turkish tea and the small statues from iron and cheap jewelry, and can see at the same time the Macedonian walking through the various shops or bakeries. Located in Skopje’s old part, along the Vardar River, this bazaar is the meeting point of West and Orient.
The old stone bridge in Skopje – Located on the river Vardar, Kameni Most is not a bridge like any other; it connects Skopje’s past and present. Some parts of this stuff dates back to the fall of Rome, the bridge is rebuilt in the late ’90s, during which process the watch tower was badly hit. Today, tourists can walk on the bridge, which connects the western part of the old city of the Macedonian capital, including the bazaar.
Kale Fortress – Which European cities has a castle or fortress to serve as essential tourist attraction? In Skopje, visitors can see “Skopsko Kale”, which dates from the sixth century, about the same time as the Old Stone Bridge. Some blocks of stone are from the old city Scupi. After digging deeper, archaeologists have found that Kale fortress was built over a new fortress built by Roman civilization long before dawn. Macedonian archaeological site turned into a tourist attraction, with its fence, with a beautifully landscaped park.
Kursumli An – Dividing the head with a Macedonian national museum, this former Turkish inn delights with exquisite arches, domes architectural standpoint. Since the realization of the upper part was used lead, this building became known as the “Lead Inn” (Kursumli Year). You can easily imagine the tired travelers and merchants in the seventeenth century halt here in tiny rooms and resting in the stables and horses kept in good condition until today. This type of construction, often seen in old Islamic cities, is called the “Caravanserai.”
Sveti Spas – Balkan Countries often delight the tourists alike with Islamic mosques and Christian churches in their territories, and Macedonia is part of the country. Sveti Spas (translated Holy Salvation Church), located between the old bazaar and the fortress Kale, impresses everyone with a decorative wood carved iconostasis. The imagery combined with biblical scenes in the history of places, starring in this church and resting place of Goce Delchev, hero of the Macedonian national liberation struggle of the nineteenth century.
Daut Pasha – None of the Turkish city which bears the influence of Ottoman Empire lacks even the traces of Turkish baths, if not a genuine Turkish bath. The old “hammam” which now houses the National Art Museum, dates from the fifteenth century. The building, with its six domes and star-shaped skylights, was originally a place of relaxation for both women and men. Now, however, Daut Pasha Baths hold the most valuable collection of art from all over Macedonia. Mustafa Pasha Mosque – Towering Skopje’s old area of the minaret or the place of prayer reminds its visitors that the city was among the centuries under Ottoman rule. The mosque, built in 1519, survived the fire in the seventeenth century, which destroyed a large part of Skopje. Those who worship Allah did not always have access inside the mosque, landscaped gardens outside but they offer a nice view.
The old railway station in Skopje – When Macedonia was shaken by an earthquake in 1963, time stopped in place to Macedonia. The clock stopped at the train station at 5:17 am, the clock indicating the time today. The memorial facade reminds visitors that they enter into a museum that celebrates Skopje’s rebirth. Millennium Cross in Skopje – Not all tourist attractions in Skopje are old. Impressive Millennium Cross celebrates the emergence of Christianity two millennia ago, in the city of Mount Vodno. The Cross may seem monumental when it burns bright in the summer night.
Mother Teresa Memorial – Although born of Albanian parents, who would become known and admired Mother Teresa, comes from Skopje, Macedonia. The city keeps parts from Mother Teresa’s life, such as its birthplace and a simple statue. Given its work with the poor in India, many believe that these modest monuments faithfully reflect the personality of the holy women.
Restaurants in Skopje – Foreigners make up a large community in Skopje, due in particular to the presence of diplomatic missions and international delegations. There are many restaurants in Skopje, where traditional food is being served and quality and price is most reasonable in general. International restaurants are more numerous in Skopje, and eating out is often a good, cheap and varied idea. Burek’s symbol of the Turks can be found on the number of streets, as in a wide range of delicious skewers of meat. To enjoy a traditional meal in the capital of Macedonia, however, you need the help of an expert familiar with the area to get a menu that requires special knowledge before ordering.
Nightlife in Skopje – In Skopje there are many alternative leisure activities, from outdoor cafes and bars to nightclubs and casinos. In Park City nightlife is concentrated around the summer, the locations that can be attended as many recreational purposes here. In Skopje hotels are in most casinos, such as night-time options are varied. Macedonia’s capital owns nightclubs, of which the most famous are the Colosseum and the Maracana.
In Skopje you can shop from many and varied places, from local markets and the old bazaar of the town, to the large modern shopping centers. The old bazaar offers no shortage of anything, from souvenirs to textiles and spices. GTC, the largest shopping center includes stores, and bars and several restaurants. New shopping centers and City Gallery Biser have enough chic boutiques and in the mall Bunjakovec are many different stores.
Events in Skopje: Skopje Mebel – Organized by Skopje, Mebel is an International Exhibition of furniture items, household maintenance, social housing of equipment for factories and furniture manufacturing industry of Macedonia. This year’s edition takes place with the number 36 of the event, which offers the possibility of discovering new innovations in the areas mentioned for consumers and that opens new horizons for financial exhibitors. Dates: March 23 – March 28.
International Education Fair in Skopje – It is a project of the Center for Educational Skoje. The project has in regard to students, graduates, academics and researchers, and both the high school students, the aim being to provide complete information and enlightening as possible on foreign educational systems. Dates: April 14 to April 16. Tehnoma Expo – It is the largest exhibition that brings together representatives of leading local and foreign manufacturers in the fields of metallurgy, electricity, non-ferrous metals processing, but also in the constructions. Dates: October 13 to October 19.
Skopje’s climate is continental, which is due to the influence of humid subtropical climate. Summers are warm and humid, while winters are cold and often wet and the yeast form of snow precipitation. In the summer, the temperatures reach values higher than 30° C, sometimes exceeding 40° C. During spring and autumn seasons, the average temperature is 15-25° C. In the winter, the daytime temperature is approximately 7° C at night often descending below 0° C and sometimes below -10 ° C. Rainfall is distributed evenly throughout the year from October to December and from April to June.11