Skopje is the capital of the Republic of North Macedonia, the City that lies in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, at the crossroad of important communications, a city with a 2000 years old tradition. Skopje is a modern city with a population of almost one million and presents Macedonia’s major political, economic, educational and cultural center. It continues to be a focus for new residents, economic development, construction, and refurbishment. Skopje urban area extends across the Skopje valley for approximately 30 kilometers (18.75 mi) in width and comprises 10 municipalities.
Skopje also is a very attractive tourist destination with its fortress, cultural and historical monuments, archaeological sites, sports halls, caves in the canyon of the River Treska and Lake Matka and a health spa in the eastern part of the city.
Skopje is steadily becoming a vital regional route for international flight operators. The town with the beautiful quay of the Macedonian river “Vardar”, the narrow streets in the Old Bazaar which is the biggest bazaar preserved in the Balkans today, the town is internationally famous for being the birthplace of Mother Teresa. He has blossomed into a thriving, stimulating city to explore, defining itself as an exciting tourist destination with the 1500 years old fortress Kale and monastery St. Pantelejmon with the fresco ”Lamentation of Christ”, with the first signs of the Renaissance, the Islamic monuments Sultan Murat’s- Hjunkar Mosque, the Daut Pasha’s bath.
History and culture
In its 2,500 years of existence, Macedonia’s welcoming capital city has had many different embodiments. All of them – from Roman to Byzantine, from Ottoman to Yugoslav – have left permanent traces on the city as is evidenced by Skopje’s varied architecture and its mix of cultures. Yet in addition to its strong historical associations, Skopje is a forward-looking city offering an abundance of modern amenities and attractions. Apart from being the capital of the modern Republic of Macedonia, Skopje has always been a center of power yearned for by various empires. Situated on the banks of the River Vardar, a vital trade route is being founded by the Dardanians in the 3rd c. B.C is known as “Skupi”, a much-prized city for its strategic location. When the Romans ruled, Skopje was made the administrative center of the Dardanian Province. The city’s prestige started to grow when the Orthodox Church made it an Episcopal seat during the early Byzantine Empire. Slavic tribes who migrated from the Carpathians in the 6th c. A.D changed both the city’s name and the origin of its people as the descendants of the ancient Macedonians were assimilated by the Slavic newcomers. Throughout the remaining centuries of Byzantium Skopje continued to be an important mercantile center, situated as it was at the crossroads of Balkan trade and communications routes. It was celebrated for its urban life and fortress and distinguished for having the most beautiful church in the region. At the very end of the 14th c., Macedonia fell under the sway of the Ottoman Turks. In the centuries to come, the town’s profile was altered by the construction of many mosques, Turkish baths, bridges and other buildings attesting to the new Oriental influence. Today, the Ottoman legacy remains visible in Skopje’s architecture and present among the Islamic minority. This latter tendency reached its zenith in 1963 when a catastrophic earthquake destroyed much of the regal old city.
After Macedonia was liberated from the Turks’ sway in the early 20th century, it became a Republic of the Yugoslav Federation with Skopje as its capital. At the time, the prosperous city boasted many neoclassical buildings laid out harmoniously in a more or less Central European style. However, in 1963 a dreadful earthquake destroyed much of the regal old city. An international competition to redesign the city was won by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. Skopje was reborn in an imaginative, futuristic style. His creations, such as the National Theater with its sloping roof of concrete, have shaped Skopje’s modern skyline. To this very day, the clock on the remaining wall of the old railway station remains stuck at 5:17 – the moment when the earthquake hit.
Places to visit
The Millennium Cross (Macedonian: Милениумски крст, Latinic: Mileniumski krst) is a 66 metre-high cross situated on the top of the Vodno Mountain in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. It was constructed to serve as a memorial of 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia and the world. The construction of the cross began in 2002 and was funded by the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Macedonian government and donations from Macedonians from all over the world. The cross was built on the highest point of the Vodno mountain on a place known since the time of the Ottoman Empire as “Krstovar”, meaning “Place of the cross”, as there was a smaller cross situated there. On 8 September 2008, the independence day of the Republic of Macedonia, an elevator was installed inside the cross. In 2009, a restaurant and a souvenir shop were opened next to the cross. In 2011 the Millennium Cross ropeway was opened. The ropeway is three and a half km long. At night the cross shines down over the city.
The Old Bazaar (Macedonian: Стара Чаршија, Stara Čaršija from the Turkish: Çarşı meaning marketplace, Albanian: Çarshia e Vjetër) in Skopje is the largest bazaar in the Balkans outside Istanbul. It is situated on the eastern bank of the Vardar River, stretching from the Stone Bridge to the Bit-Pazar and from the Skopje Fortress to the Serava river.
The Old Bazaar falls within the borders of Centar and Čair municipalities and is a protected national landmark.The earliest known documented sources that point out to the existence of a merchant quarter on the bazaar’s territory date back to the 12th century. During the Ottoman rule with the city, the place underwent a rapid development to become city’s main economic and merchant centre, evidenced by about 30 mosques, numerous caravanserais and hans, as well as other Ottoman buildings and monuments. The bazaar was heavily damaged by the earthquakes that occurred in 1555 and 1963, and the destructions caused during the First and the Second World War. Subsequently, it was reconstructed on several occasions and nowadays represents the only remaining cultural monument in the Republic of Macedonia, which has kept its multicultural heritage of different civilizations.
The Ottoman architecture is predominant in the Old Bazaar, although remains of the Byzantine architecture are evident as well, while the most recent reconstructions lead to the application of elements specific to the Modern architecture. Most of the buildings that once were used to host the travellers or as hamams[disambiguation needed] for the political dignitaries were transformed into museums and galleries, which today are used with the main purpose to host art exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events. Nowadays, however, the place and its proximity are still home to several mosques, türbes, two churches and a clocktower, that together with the buildings of the Museum of Macedonia and the Museum of Modern Art form the core of the modern bazaar. The Museum of the Skopje Old Bazaar, situated in Suli Han, includes collections of artifacts that evidence the life within the bazaar, its development, and the crafts that were practiced during its history.On 13 October 2008, the Macedonian Parliament adopted a law recognising the Skopje Old Bazaar as a cultural heritage of particular importance for the country with a permanent protection.
In early 2010, the Macedonian Government has commenced a programme for revitalisation of the Old Bazaar, which, in turn, includes restoration of several objects, providing support of the crafts, and aiming a further economic and cultural development of the site.
Matka – A gorge in which a rich complex of mediaeval building survives, including churches, monasteries and remnants of a fortress (the mediaeval town of Matka).There are dozens of caves and large number of endemic plants and animals. The Canyon covers an area of around 5.000ha and is located 15km south-west of Skopje. By its morphogenetic characteristic, it is a breakthrough gorge. Krastic form deserve particular attention here-ten caves with their length ranging between 20 and 176 meters and two vertical chasms with a depth up to 35 meters. Matka was one of the largest refugee centers during the glacial period resulting in the presence of high number of relic and endemic plants, 20% are endemic or relic spices. Among Tertary relics, the most significant are the kosani violet and natay’s Ramonda (Ramonda natalie).It is also important to mention that there are 77 species of Balkan endemic small butterflies in area of Matka Canyon, while 18 other species are new to the science.
The Treska canyon is vertically cut into the massive of Suva Mountain. The different formations in the canyon like the karrens, flutes, valleys, cracks, crevices and caves have been formed by a long term impact of the mountain rivers, as well as by great temperature oscillations. In the surroundings of the Treska Canyon one can find dozens of caves, the most beautiful ones being Vrelo, Krshtalna and Ubava. The caves are filled with numerous stalagmites, stalactites and dripstone pillars and some of them are illuminated. The diversity of dripstone adornments has been captured by a well deployed illumination. Visiting tours are organized by an official guide. The Treska Canyon is the most important alpine climbing center in northern Macedonia. The major climbing season in Matka begins in spring, round the Easter holidays when visitors come from countries from all over Europe. The season continues throughout summer and fall until the end of November.
The Treska Canyon is also open for kayaking. Built in 1389 the Monastery of St. Andrew’s is located on Lake Matka (17 km away from Skopje) and contains frescos of great artistic importance. The Monastery of St. Nicholas Shishovski is situated on top of a cliff above Lake Matka giving the visitor a spectacular view of the lake and its surroundings. There is no precise information when this monastery was built, however it is known that it was first mentioned in the 17th century. Unfortunately, during the 18th century the monastery was abandoned, only to be resettled the following century. Close to both monasteries of St. Andrew’s and of St. Nicholas is the Matka Monastery dating from the 14th century, its frescos dating from the 15th century. The monastery is located on the left side of river Treska at a distance of about 12 km from Skopje. Church of St. Andreas – built and decorated with frescoes in the 14thcentry.The compositions – “Last Supper„, “Descent from the Cross„ and “Prayer on the Mount of Olives” deserve a special attention.
The Skopje Fortress, commonly referred to as Kale Fortress, or simply Kale (from kale, the Turkish word for ‘fortress’), is a historic fortress located in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. It is situated on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River. The fortress is depicted on the coat of arms of Skopje, which in turn is incorporated in the city’s flag.
The first fortress, according to research and available data, is believed to have been built amidst the 6th century A.D., on land that had been inhabited during the Neolithic and Bronze ages or roughly 4000 B.C. It was constructed with yellow limestone and travertine and along with fragments of Latin inscriptions, asserts the idea that the fortress originated from the Roman city of Skupi, which was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 518.
The fortress is thought to have been reconstructed during the rule of emperor Justinian I and constructed further during the 10th and 11th centuries over the remains of emperor Justinian’s Byzantine fortress which may have been destroyed due to a number of wars and battles in the region, such as that of the uprising of the Bulgarian Empire against the Byzantine Empire under the rule of Peter Delyan. Not much is known about the Medieval fortress apart from a few documents which outline minor characteristics in the fortress’ appearance.
Memorial House of Mother Teresa
The desire to pay respect to one the most famous person and Nobel Prize winner from Macedonia was accomplished on the 30-th of January 2009 with the opening of the Memorial house dedicated to Mother Teresa. The Memorial house of Mother Teresa is non-profit organization financed by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia. The Location of the museum is not randomly chosen. That is to say, on this exact place the old Catholic Church “Sacred Heart of Jesus” used to stand. It is where Mother Teresa, then Gonxha Bojaxhiu was baptized just one day after her birth, on the 27th of August 1910, place where she received her first communion and where she finds her inner peace after her father’s death.
This place had great importance and influence on developing of the character of young Gonxha and to her desire to help the poor people. Since she was a child she sang in the Catholic Church choir and participated in charity organizations. Somehow the location itself represents a symbolic bridge that connects little Gonxha to one of the greatest humanitarians of the world, Mother Teresa.
Skopje International Airport
Facts and Figures about Skopje International Airport
– IATA Code: SKP
– ICAO code: LWSK
– Sita Address: SKPAPXH & SKPSCXH
– Passenger boarding bridges: 6
– Remote parking stands: 16
– Check-in counters: 23
– Passport control cabins: 10 on departures + 14 on arrivals
– Baggage carrousels: 2
– Runway length: 2.950 m
– Runway width: 45 m
– Runway landing category: ILS CAT I
– Cargo terminal: 3.000 m2
– Cargo capacity: 40.000 tons/year
– Car park capacity: 1.200 vehicles
The information counter and meeting point are located on the ground floor in front of the escalators leading to the Departures section. The meeting point and information desk are marked with signs above the counters window. The friendly staff will answer your questions and offer help at request.
Skopje International Airport
1043 Petrovec, Macedonia
Working hours: non-stop