History of Skopje

The Macedonian capital Skopje is inhabited since at least 4000 BC. Conquered by the Romans around 100 AD and later part of the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire. All this time the city, that lies on the upper course of the Vadar river, was on the major North South Balkan route. So industry and trade developed and the city had a diverse religious background as well as inhabitants from various origins, such as Turkish, Greek and Bulgarian. In 1962 there was a major earthquake that destroyed much of the historical buildings in the city. Most of the town is rebuild, but there are still some empty looking patches.

Visualizing history

The centre is now being transformed in a somewhat Vegas (kitsch) style place, with Neoclassical buildings and large bronze monuments for historical figures. The whole place looks a bit unreal as the government is trying make history very visual as if to illustrate a national identity and give the capital grandeur. Bridges like the Charles bridge in Prague, lots of fountains with bronze lions imported from Italy, an 'Arc de Triomphe’, Nelson’s Column redone with Alexander the Great, double decker buses. It is as if the city wants to have a version of all the monuments other cities posses. It makes for an interesting walk though.

Across the river is the Kale fortress that since the earthquake mainly consists of the outer walls, the small old church of Sveti spass and, in the area of Čaršija, Turkish mosques. Interesting is that the further you walk the more Turkish it becomes, ending in the oriental Bit bazaar.

In the evenings there are very good bands playing in the bar area of Čaršija