|Skopje at Night
||The Stone Bridge
Skopje is the capital of the Republic of
Macedonia. As largest city in the country, it is a political,
economic, and cultural center of Macedonia. It lies on the upper
course of the Vardar River and is located on a major north-south
Balkan route between Belgrade and Athens.
The first impression of a visitor to Skopje
is invariably the same: it is a new and modern city. It is a
trading center for the cotton, tobacco, grains, and livestock
produced in the surrounding region. The city also has
manufacturing facilities for iron and steel, electrical
machinery, chemicals, textiles, carpets, and foods.
|The Great Mother
||Askos (liquid vessel)
|Neolithic Location: Cerje,
Here is the seat of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences
and Arts, the Sts. Cyril
and Methodius University, the Macedonian Parliament, the
National and University
Library, the Macedonian National Theater, the Archives of
Macedonia, the Skopje Historical Archives, the University
Hospitals and the Medical School, the Museum of Macedonia,
the Museum of Contemporary Art, the National History Museum, the
National Art Gallery, the Culture Gallery, the Natural Sciences
Museum of Macedonia, the Macedonian Tourist Information Center,
Macedonian Orthodox Church, as well as many
foreign embassies and representative offices.
The Museum of Macedonia features a rich
exhibition from historical excavations and ethnologic exhibits.
|Portrait of the Byzantine
Emperor Iustinian I,
in "San Vitale" church
in Ravenna, Italy
Although Skopje was settled as early as the pre-historic
times, the first urban settlements in the Skopje area are from
around the 4th century BC. Its citizens were a
mixture of local residents of Paeonian and Dardanian origin. In
Roman times the city of Scupi developed as an early Roman
legionary camp on the western slope of Zlokukansko Kale, near
It is assumed that it was the base of the 5th
Macedonian and 4th Scythian legions. Colonists settled during
the second half of the 1st century A.D., mainly
ex-servicemen or veterans, as well as immigrants from the
neighbouring city of Stobi, and even Asia Minor, Aegea, and
Thrace. During the 2nd century Scupi acquired a
particularly prestigious character, and a central place in it
was occupied by its monumental theatre. Its troubles, however,
began during the 3rd century. Taking advantage of the
struggle for the imperial throne, first the Sarmatians and then
the Goths and Heruls penetrated into Macedonia.
|The Roman Aquaduct
near Skopje today.
The 4th century was characterized by an increase
in building activity in the city. This was the time when its
most impressive building - the Basilica I - was erected. This
was a public building, a court-house, in the southern part of
the city. In the 4th century A.D., it served for a
while as the capital of the Emperor Theodosius. Towards the end
of that century or the beginning of the 5th an Early Christian
basilica was erected in the city. However, it seems that it did
not survive for long since the barbarian ravages were resumed in
the 5th century, and it certainly did not survive the
notorious earthquake of 518, heavily damaging the city of Scupi.
Scupi flourished under the reign of the
Emperor Iustinian I. It is believed that Iustinian was born near
Skopje, in about 483 at Tauresium (Taor). Although Iustinian is
known for expanding and securing the Byzantine Empire, his most
important work, however, is his codification of the laws. He
says in the edict of promulgation of his laws that a state rests
on arms and law ("De Justin. Cod. Confirmando", printed in front
of the codex). The scattered decrees of his predecessors were
collected in a well-ordered and complete codex, logically
In 535 Justinian passed a law by which he
presented a city to his birthplace. He called it Justiniana
Prima. Justinian's contemporary, the famous Procopius
eternalized this city in his historical records where he
said:"... The city, in the image of the Emperor, its creator and
builder, the wise ruler, Justinian...". Underneath the idyllic
surface and patriotic ecstasy, Justiniana Prima was a political
move in the fundamental re-organization of the state "pestered
by all sorts of barbarians". The city, a political centre, was
also a protection for the new administrative unit known as
Northern Illyricum. Its location is still a matter for
The Slav tribe Berziti settled here and also
populated the western part of Macedonia all the way to
Veles. In 1040,
grandson, Petar Deljan, led an uprising against Byzantium which
liberated the city, but the uprising was crushed.
|A cup found
in the Skopje area
bearing a Slavic inscription.
proclamation of Petar Deljan as a Tsar by putting him on a
shield. Miniature from The Chronicle of Skilica and Kedrin,
a transcript from the 12th-13th century (The
National Library - Madrid).
Another uprising, under Georgi Vojtek
followed in 1072 and again the center of it was Skopje. This
uprising, was also put down. Skopje was part of the Serbian
state during its greatest expansion under the rule of Stefan
Uros IV Dushan Nemanja (1331-1355). Emperor Stefan, after
obtaining the approval of the patriarch of Trnovo (Bulgaria)
and the archbishop of Ohrid (Macedonia), elevated the
archbishop of Pec (Kosovo) to the rank of patriarch and -
having them perform the ceremony of investiture - had
himself crowned emperor in a solemn ceremony, at a synod in
Skopje on Easter of 1346.
a detail from a fresco.
Kriva Palanka, 1347-48.
a detail from a fresco.
St. Nicholas' Monastery,
Psacha, Kriva Palanka, 1365-71.
Dushan was followed by his young son Stefan
Urosh V (1355 - 1371), who divided his power with the most
powerful among the local noblemen. Skopje was part of
Volkashin's dominion, which included northern and eastern
Macedonia. Stefan Urosh V gave Volkashin the title of king and
the rights of a co-ruler in 1365. Volkashin was succeeded by his
Marko (Krale Marko). Marko's Monastery (also known as St.
Dimitrija) and St. Andrew's church at
are witnesses of Marko's rule in the Skopje area.
|The Salutation of newborn Jesus by the
three Wisemen of the East,
Markov Manastir, Skopje, 14th century. The
Construction of the monastery was initiated
by Volkashin 1345, Krali Marko's father, and finished by
Krali Marko himself.
Skopje was part of King
Marko's state until the arrival of the Turks who seized it
on January 19, 1392.
an example of Turkish architecture in Skopje.
|Remainings of Gulchiler Baths
from the 15th century.
Manastir near Skopje
Bridge in Skopje in 1909.
During the Turkish reign, the Karposh
Uprising was crushed down, and its leader Karposh was captured,
cut to pieces, and thrown from the Stone Bridge into the Vardar
River. After five centuries, the Balkan
Wars of 1912 forced the Turks out and Skopje fell under
Serbian rule. After World War II, Skopje became the capital of
the Republic of Macedonia.
|The Downtown before the
||Time of the Earthquake:
In 1963, another catastrophic earthquake
struck Skopje. The clock in the preserved ruins of the old
railway station remained frozen at 5:17 am, the moment that the
predawn earthquake turned Skopje into landfill. So devastating
was the 1963 quake that some advised moving Macedonia's capital
to another site. Thanks to world solidarity, the city was
quickly renewed and reconstructed and the new residential
quarters bear little resemblance of old Skopje.
|The Macedonian National
before the Earthquake of 1963
with the old Kale Fortress in the background.
|The new Macedonian
|The Railway Station in
Skopje before the Earthquake in 1963.
||The Railway Station
Today Skopje is a beautiful and modern city
with population of over half-million people (1991), covering an
area of 1.818 sq. km. The city was rebuilt mainly out of
concrete slab, clamping it to the Vardar river floodplain almost
as a modular unit, in case the earth attempts to shake it loose
again. Among the many international architects that participated
in its reconstruction was the Japanese urban planner Kenzo Tanga,
who gave the center a "city wall" of high-rise buildings, while
the banks of the Vardar were laid out as pleasant tree-lined
promenades. The ancient trading quarter (charshija) has been
completely renovated in the notable features of its original
architecture. Today, the city is still spreading in all
directions and has a number of new developments.
|The Daut-Pasha's Amam
with the Kale Fortress,
the Turkish bazaar, and Mustafa-pasha's mosque
(15th century) in the background.
|The Kale Fortress at
overlooking Downtown Skopje.
The city and its vicinity have plenty of
valuable cultural and historical monuments which attract the
attention of every visitor. Kurshumli-An, located in the old
section of Skopje is believed to be erected in 1550. This
building later became a prison, where 578 Macedonian
revolutionaries went through during 1898. The roof of this
building was originally made of lead which was later taken out
and used to produce bullets.
|The Turkish Bazaar (Turska
||The Iconostas in the
of the Holy Savior from 1824
Skopje has many historical monuments
including The Kale Fortress raised in the 6th century
(its present appearance dates from the Turkish period), the Daut-Pasha's
Amam (public bath, 15th c., now the Art Gallery), the
Mustafa-pasha's mosque (15th c.), the Clock Tower (16th c), and
Bridge over the Vardar river. The Stone Bridge gives access
to the old part of the city where one can find many cultural and
historical monuments. Built by the Turks on the site of a Roman
bridge, the Stone Bridge has eleven arches and bears a plaque in
the middle stating that it was restored by Sultan Murat II
(first half of the 15th century).
|St. Elijah (Sv. Ilija)
in the church of
The Holy Savior
(Sveti Spas), from 1867
The Church of the Holy Savior (Sveti Spas) is
located near the Kale Fortress. It was believed that it was
built in the 17th century, but the 1963 earthquake
gave evidence that it actually dated from the 16th
century. This suggests that today's church was built on the
foundations of an older church which the Turks had destroyed.
The 19th century
iconostasis of the church of the Holy Savior is carved in
walnut and combines a profusion of plant and animal motifs with
the figures of saints in local costumes. This realistic
high-relief carving is the work of skillful craftsmen of the
Debar area, who included their own figures in one corner of
the iconostasis. The iconostasis at the Church of the Holy
Savior is 6 meters high and 10 meters long, and is one of the
finest samples of traditional woodcarving which can be found on
the territory of Macedonia along with the iconostasis of the St.
John Bigorski Monastery. The tomb-sarcophagi of the
Delchev is placed in the courtyard of the church. Goce
Delchev died in 1903 in Banica, near Seres in Aegean
Macedonia (now in Greece).
On the slopes of nearby Mt. Vodno stands the
famous church of St. Pantelejmon from 1164, decorated with
frescoes of exceptional artistic value. The Lamentation of
Christ, also known as Pieta (above), is the earliest
representation of St. Mary with human features. The sorrow she
feels for losing her son was for the first time represented on
this fresco, thus heralding the Renaissance.
|St. Pantelejmon (1164),
village of Nerezi
||The Lamentation of
Christ, Nerezi, 1164.
The Monastery of St. Nikita (1307 - 1308),
Marko's Monastery (14th century) and the Monastery of
St. Andrew (14th century) are situated in the
vicinity of Skopje. The man-made Lake
Matka is located near Skopje and is used for energy
production. The St. Nikola Monastery (17th century),
the Matka Monastery (15th century), and the Church of
St. Atanasie (16th century) are all situated around
Skopje can be reached by train, car, or air.
The Skopje Airport is
the largest airport in Macedonia. The first train to arrive in
Skopje departed from Salonica in the distant year of 1873.