5 Reasons to Visit Skopje, Macedonia

Alexander Statue Soldiers, Skopje

The city of Skopje may just be my favourite capital that I’ve visited in the Balkans. As my last stop in the Rep. of Macedonia it was a pretty great way to cap off my enlightening and eventful visit. Expecting to find a city somewhat in keeping with other capitals in the Balkans, Skopje turned out to be very much its own city. During my time there, I found a city with plenty to offer visitors, both for newcomers to the country and those who have explored elsewhere in Macedonia. Below are just some of the reasons Skopje fascinated me and why people should choose to visit there.

 

Skopje is Finding Itself

Bridge of Civilizations, Skopje

One of the more fascinating things I noticed about Skopje was all the construction and new buildings about, mostly by the riverfront. What is so intriguing about this is the choice that the city has made in its selected style of architecture. They’ve seemingly chosen to go with Neoclassical architecture which was popular back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some people have criticised this as a bit tacky but I actually think it’s wonderful as you can see they’ve tried to put a modern take on it.

I can’t think of another city I’ve been to which was in the process of trying to figure out their “identity” so-to-speak. To me that was really something. Skopje really seemed like a city in flux; a city seeking to revitalise itself and its image. I’d love to return in maybe 5 or 10 years and see how it has all gone.

Vardar River, Skopje

 

The Historic Sites

Stone Bridge Skopje

Despite its big revamp and move to modernisation, Skopje still has a great sense of history about it. One of the big monuments to that is the impressive Kale Fortress that you can see from much of the city. The fortress traces back to the Byzantine rulers of the 6th century, but the oldest parts today date from the 10th century. Below the fortress lies the equally historic Old Bazaar which has been the city’s centre of commerce since the 12th century. You do get a sense of its lineage and importance as you walk through its streets. One other major historic landmark is the Stone Bridge that leads from Macedonia Square towards the bazaar and fortress.

Skopje Fortress

 

A Contemporary City

Skopje Stadium

Throughout my time in Macedonia it was quite rare to come across things like modern shopping centres of international cuisine. The closest I think I came were several pizza joints in the popular tourist city of Ohrid. This is far from a complaint as I prefer learning about local cuisine, but it is often nice to have a “cheat” day. So I really came to appreciate the fact that Skopje does have many of the conveniences that you expect of a modern European city. It was nice to find a street near where I was staying with fairly trendy cafes and restaurants, including a sushi place. Plenty of history to explore in Skopje that’s for sure.

Skopje City View

 

Monumental

Alexander Horseback, Skopje

Walking around Skopje, one thing becomes immediately clear – they like their statues. The biggest and baddest has to be the gigantic monument of Alexander the Great on horseback in the centre of the city. The monument really is so large that and detailed that it grasps your attention. It is rightfully growing into an icon of the city and a great one at that. But even surrounding that very square are several others, such as the alabaster statue of Metodija Andonov-Čento, the country’s first president after WWII. There also plenty more over the river, like the touching mother and child fountain below.

Mother and Child, Skopje

 

Representative of the Country

Bazaar, Skopje

Skopje is actually fairly representative of the rest of Macedonia. While I don’t think you can get a sufficient grasp of a country from only one place, I get why people may only be able to make one stop. In Skopje’s case, it will give you a decent sense of this small country. You’re able to see the wonderful mix of Christianity and Islam found throughout, the mountainous terrain, the friendly locals and interesting history. You may miss things like the more rural landscapes and lifestyles, but it’s enough of a sampling to draw you back for more I think.

Church of St Clement, Skopje

 


Have you had the chance to visit Skopje before? If not, which of these reasons most appeals to you? Please share in the comments below.

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5 Reasons to Visit Skopje, Macedonia via @travelsewhere

 

 

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18 Comment

  1. Skopje looks like an interesting city. Thanks for the interesting information.

  2. This is definitely on our list, but I’m not gonna lie: I’m excited to go just because of the beautiful lamp posts haha But you’ve definitely shown me more reasons to visit! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  3. Fascinating I love how you take us to interesting cities. The Neoclassical architecture of Skopje is interesting, with the Kale Fortress in the background. The statue of Alexander the Great on horseback grabs the travelers attention. Your photos are stunning and thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. I agree with Stephanie, you are taking us to places I haven’t even conisdered visiting, but now you have introduced me to them – I WANT to visit! I am fascinated with period architecture and I think this is something which would attract me to this city. Thank you for another interesting post!

  5. paulandcarolelovetotravel says:

    Interesting post on a destination that has not been on our radar before. Great photos and will be definitely pinning this for future reference! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I love that you highlight how this city is trying to find itself. I wonder what it will turn out to be down the road? Or, will it always be a city in flux?!? This seems like a great place with a great juxtaposition of historic interest and modern charm.

  7. This is my first look at Macedonia. Wow! Thanks for the great information. 🙂

  8. Hi I have yet to visit Macedonia! It looks fab though – we managed to visit Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro this year and we really loved them so another visit to see more of the region is a definite must! It will be interesting to see how the city develops over the next decade or so!

  9. Awesome post! We were there two years ago and had the exact same impression. It’s nice to see the boat in the river looking more like a boat and less like a block of concrete! Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!

    1. David says:

      Haha, there’s actually another boat being built further down that more resembled a skeleton of half a boat at the time.

  10. I have to agree with some of the other comments, here Macedonia hasn’t been on my radar before but you really do bring this place to life. It’s great how it’s trying to find itself and I do think it will be interesting to see what direction it takes and you return in a few years time to compare. That is a might fine statue of Alexander the Great I have to admit! Thank you for providing so much information and teaching us about Skopje and Macedonia 😉 #feetdotravel

    1. David says:

      Glad to put it on your radar Angie. I really love the statue too.

  11. Lisa (Simple Sojourner) says:

    It does look have a nice appeal to it and I agree it looks like quite an interesting place to visit. Love the old architecture too and I enjoy exploring old forts and ruins! Pin this for future travels so thanks for sharing!

    1. David says:

      Thanks Lisa, it really is a great mix of things to see 🙂

  12. Super interesting – definitely one of the off-the-beaten-path capitals and one I have wanted visited for a while – really interesting to see the place still in the process of finding its identity which is perfectly captured in your shot of the church with a sort of futuristic design! Great stuff

    1. David says:

      I hope you make it to Skopje Lex, it’s worth the trip. The church is really interesting, the inside is pretty neat too!

  13. Skopje looks like the kind of city I would love to visit. I love the architecture mix and all those statues. I don’t know much about Macedonia so this was a great read.

  14. Kreete says:

    I don’t even need five resons to visit! The architecture would do me! Looks like a place with a lot of history! And how exciting you are coming back to Australia! I am very excited about that. Have you made any plans yet?

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