Skopje – The capital of Monuments
I will not write about the history of Skopje, nor about its political changes. There is so much information on the internet about it.
Still, it’s incredible how this place was under Roman occupation, then a Byzantine commercial point, also it was the capital of the Bulgarian Imperium and then became Macedonia’s capital.
The place suffered fights, fire, earthquake, poverty. All together they made the new Skopje – a re- born territory called ‘the capital of monuments’. After the earthquake in 1963, more than 80% of the architecture of the city was destroyed. Since then, the Government has been building continuously. There are many buildings under construction still and day by day many more edifices are coming to life.
There is a word circulation in Macedonia that says that every citizen in Skopje has a monument. Each person saves money for one. But if you are a citizen of Skopje and you die before building your monument, don’t worry too much: the state will definitely build one for you. (sic)
The center of the town it is split into the Turkish Part and Macedonian (modern) part. In the Turkish part of the city you can find the Open Bazaar (open market) where you can buy everything you need, from food to clothes and car tools. There are also shops where you can buy fur, ceramics, traditional Turkish sweets ( as baklava), vintage objects, canvas and textiles, traditional Macedonian souvenirs, old books, wedding and prom dresses – all of them at a very low price ( as everything in Macedonia is quite cheap compared with prices in France or UK for example).
The Turkish area has beautiful pubs and restaurants and they have all sorts of food (including meat) and drinks (including their traditional rakia). There are pubs where you can play cards or backgammon all day long and for only 2 euro you can drink as much tea as you want.
In Skopje I saw for the first time in my life a ‘see through’ radio broadcast. Yes, the national radio in Skopje is situated on the ground floor in the centre and has big glass in front of the studio, which allows everybody to see what is happening inside. Me and my friends were watching them broadcasting live for a while. They saw as and came to talk with us – it was a quite a nice experience, hehe
About living. I was living with some friends in a Shanti hostel for only 10 euros per night, with breakfast included. The hostel is 5 minutes walking from the train station. Don’t imagine that you can find there a luxurious place - not at all, but at least it is clean. On the other side, I saw another hostel (Art Hostel), just 2 minutes walking away from Shanti Hostel and I remained terrified by the conditions I found there: dirty and smelly bed sheets, dirty rooms, dirty shower room. Everything there is in a bad condition. If you want to have a good stay in Skopje, please avoid the Art Hostel.
What else: In Skopje I tried for the first time the Macedonian burek (cheese, spinach or meat cake), of course in combination with their yogurt (the Bitolian yogurt).
And hey! If you come to visit Skopje, you must try their Millenium Cross Cable Car. It is a Gondola which takes you on the top of the Vodno Mountain and you can see the city from there as well as all the surroundings. At the peak of the mountain there is a huge metal cross which has inside a bar-restaurant where you can rest after the walk. From the Vodno Mountains you can see the whole beauty of Macedonia. It is worth it to go see it indeed.