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Skopje

The cultural centre in Macedonia
Skopje has been able to renew its image, achieving a unique charm: always cheerful, accessible and pleasantly welcoming
 
Skopje, capital of the Republic of Macedonia, is also the largest city in the country. Situated on the banks of the River Vardar, in northern Macedonia, at the centre of the Balkans, it extends along the valley for approximately 30 km and includes ten municipalities. Situated half way between Belgrade and Athens, it is also close to the largest cities of the region: Sofia (224 km), Salonika (230 km), Nis (219 km) and Tirana (321 km).
 
City landscape
It is an important economic, industrial, commercial, cultural, academic and political centre for all of Macedonia, and a fundamental hub for industries involved in the working of metal, wood and leather and in the chemical, textile and printing sector. Its rapid development following World War II was brought to a halt in 1963 when the city was hit by a terrible earthquake.
 
In spite of this, Skopje preserves numerous monuments and is a modern city with a vast selection of innovative services and cultural attractions. The city is in fact the most important cultural centre in Macedonia, and home to the most important museums in the country. One of these is the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is devoted to the preservation of contemporary art. The museum also holds the city’s most important concerts, theatre performances, dance and sporting events.
 
View from the bridge of Archaeological Museum
Architecturally the city is very elegant. It is filled with modern hotels built above historic Ottoman streets, neoclassical houses, old buildings from the Yugoslavian era, Byzantine churches, mosques, elegant coffee bars, shopping centres and new business complexes painted in gaudy colours. Skopje offers a large variety of things to see and do.
 
City Center with the Alexander the Great Monument
In first place, among the many places to see, is the stone bridge that crosses the River Vardar, built between 1451 and 1469, which connects the main square of Skopje to the old Bazaar; this is closely followed by the walls of the Kale Fortress, built by the Byzantines in the 11th century.
 
The stone bridge
The spirit of the old town emanates from the streets of Stara Charshija, with their small shops, mosques, sixteenth-century century clock tower, taverns, open-air bazaar and old Turkish hammam.
 
House of Mother Teresa
A short stop at the memorial house of Mother Teresa is also well worth while. Designed by the architect Bozinovski, the house was built in her honour as a citizen of Skopje and as a spiritual reflection of the entire city.
 
The short climb to the Kale Fortress is well rewarded: a spectacular view over the city and its surroundings can be enjoyed from the hill.
 
The Kale Fortress
The green heart of the city instead provides moments of well-being and serenity. A large tree-lined park along the river and the wooded hills of Mount Vodno overlook the city to the southwest, while, a stone’s throw from the centre, stands Mount Vodno, topped by the enormous Millenium Cross which presides over the city. This point offers a magnificent panoramic view. The preferred period for visiting Skopje is in the spring and autumn when the weather is at its best for enjoying all the city’s attractions.
 
Where to sleep in Skopje
 
Skopje is a welcoming city and offers different possibilities for accommodation.
To find the ideal hotel and the best offers you can do a search for the stars but also for districts or landmarks.
 
STARS
Hotels for stars, differentiated by type of services:
DISTRICTS
Hotels in the districts
LANDMARKS
Hotels in tourist areas
 
 
Text by Alisè Vitri
Photos: Sisterscom.com, Shutterstock
Copyright © Sisterscom.com
All rights reserved
Published on Avion Tourism N48
Updated June 2019
 
Tourism Board
www.exploringmacedonia.com
where to go
Monuments and Museums
KALE FORTRESS
The Skopje Fortress, known as Kale Fortress, is situated on the highest point of the city with a splendid view over the Vardar River. The fortress is depicted on the coat of arms of Skopje and also incorporated in the city’s flag. The first construction dates back to the sixth century AD and after being completely destroyed by an earthquake in 518 was rebuilt during the reign of the emperor Justinian I. Today, a park is found in the area alongside the fortress, which is used for events and entertainment. Here, in the evening, visitors have a wonderful view over the city and the Vadar River. 
MOTHER TERESA MUSEUM
This memorial to Mother Teresa was built on the popular Macedonia Street, on the site of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, which was destroyed by the earthquake of 1963 and where Mother Teresa felt herself drawn for the first time to a religious life. It is a construction with a slender architectural form and glass-fronted tower, and is a “collage” of European and Indian elements.
 
THE MILLENIUM CROSS
Monte Vodno
The Cross, situated on the top of Mount  Vodno, is 66 metres tall and situated 1,066 metres above sea level. It was built as a memorial to Christianity in Macedonia and the world, and its construction, which began in 2002, was financed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church and by the donations of Macedonians from all over the world. The place where the cross stands has been called since ancient times “Krstovar” which means “place of the cross”.
In 2008, on the Macedonian Republic’s Independence Day, a lift was installed inside the cross and subsequently a restaurant and a souvenir shop were opened alongside; in 2011 a cableway was inaugurated. At night the cross shines brightly above the city.
CHURCH OF ST. PANTELEIMON
Gorno Nerezi
The Church of St. Panteleimon, one of the oldest and most important in Macedonia, is found only 15 minutes from the city in the smallvillage of Gorno Nerezi. It was built and frescoed in 1164 during the rule of the Byzantine prince Alexius Comnenus, whose name is incised on the stone above the entrance to the church, and was dedicated to St. Panteleimon, the protector of health. The paintings transmit the emotions of the faces depicted, and the most impressive fresco in St. Panteleimon created under the influence of apocryphal religious literature is The Lamentation of Christ. This masterpiece displays traits associated with Renaissance art at a stage much earlier than the blossoming of the Italian Renaissance.
 
MUSEUM OF THE CITY
Mito Hadzivasilev Jasmin bb
Founded in 1951, the museum complex is devoted to the archaeology, history, ethnology, history of art and contemporary art of the city. The exterior of the museum is partly in ruins, while the clock outside is frozen at 5.17 on the morning of the tragic earthquake of 27 July 1963, which almost demolished the city. Once known as the Museum of the People of Skopje City, in 1965 it was renamed the City Museum. www.mgs.org.mk
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Samoilova bb
This museum was founded in 1964 on the initiative of several famous artists, art historians and international associations. Thanks to the donations it has received, the collection includes international works such as those by Picasso, Hartung, Calder and Vasarely. In addition to its valuable international collection, it houses works by modern Macedonian artists. 
 
Excursions
OHRID LAKE
Lake Ohrid straddles the mountainous border between the south-west of Macedonia and eastern Albania. It is one of the deepest and oldest lakes in Europe, which preserves a unique aquatic ecosystem of worldwide importance, with more than 200 endemic species. The lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.  The fishing attracts many enthusiastic anglers not just from Macedonia, but also from Europe and worldwide.
SMOLARE FALLS
The falls are located above the village of Smolare at an altitude of 630 metres. The waterfall is the tallest in Macedonia, falling from a height of 39.5 metres. To reach the waterfall, visitors must walk along a path through the countryside that includes 300 natural stone steps. It is a typical tourist attraction. It offers picnic areas, campsites and shops that sell local products.
 
Destinations found in the vicinity
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