Skopje – a City Portrait

Alexander the Great in Skopje

Skopje, Macedonia, November 2011

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I heard the chants that came from the Minaret sometime around noon. I couldn’t make up for the words but I knew it was an open invitation to pray inside the Mosque. The chants created a very interesting mood while I was walking through the Old Town’s Bazaar searching for everything and for nothing at the very same time. Animal skins hanging in front of one store’s door, rugs decorating the facade of a coffee shop and people walking with bags with all sorts of souvenirs and non souvenirs items were all part of the sightseeing in this peculiar area of the city.

Interestingly that was not all. To my right, looking up, I could clearly see the ruins of the spectacular fortress erected by the powerful Ottoman Empire that conquered great part of the Balkans for almost 500 years. To my left I could admire the architecture of the Cifte hammam, an ancient turkish bath that was constructed by Isa-Beg Isaković and now is home of part of the National Gallery of the country. For a moment I felt in Turkey but just a few meters across the most familiar landmark of the city, Stone Bridge, the impressive – and I have to admit – stunning 20 meter tall fountain sculpture of Alexander the Great (officially called The Man on the Horse to aviod a political controversy with the Greek neighbors) reminded me of where I truly was.

The birthplace of non other than Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (better known as Mother Theresa). I was in Skopje, Macedonia.

On the other side of the bridge other chants were heard. The sounds from the mega screen airing different types of television ads and a music video from the English rock pop group Coldplay dominated the atmosphere. Statues from different national heroes in different times and other kinds of people (like a man polishing shoes) were found in practically every corner of the city’s main square.

Bakeries, fashion stores, bars and cafes were very easy to find in this part of the river. In front of me just behind the enormous sculpture I could see the emblematic Ristik Palace built by Vladislav Ristik a wealthy pharmacist in 1926. It is essential to explain that the building is not only important to the locals because of it’s architectural beauty but also due to the fact that it was one of the few structures that survived the devastating earthquake that demolished around 60% of the buildings of the city in 1963.

I then took the pedestrain passage way right of the building and headed towards the memorial house of Mother Theresa. I then preceeded on to the end of the passage and arrived at the old train station. I stood there a couple of minutes trying to reconstruct the building in my mind and took a look at the clock that always marks 5:17 pm the exact time that the earthquake took place. I then ended my walk, a few blocks east from there, in the colorful Christian Ortodox Church of St. Clement of Ohrid where it is possible to see how they are painting the inside murals that will finally end the beautificaton of this modern church that started back in the 1970’s.

Viril Macedonio TITO in Macedonia 2 TITO in Macedonia I look at you Sculpture Skopje Rebuilding the City Orthodox Church in Skopje


From Asia to Europe in a few minutes walk. That is Skopje. A capital that in many ways makes the use of the word constrast for the travel writer valid once again.

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  1. hej, hab gerade auf einer News Seite gelesen: “Die 200 abgekürzten Kilometer kratzen am Stolz. Doch fehlende Schlafmöglichkeiten und die Kälte ließen keine andere Wahl.”

    Meldet euch das nächste mal, dann habt ihr Schlafmöglichkeiten im warmen 🙂

    Grüße aus Mazedonien

  2. Tasting Travels Team says:

    Klasse das machen wir! Danke! Bin gerade deinem Link gefolgt auf und habe einen Artikel über uns entdeckt. Ist das deine Seite? Wenn ja vielen Dank fürs posten und für die facebook-likes auch!
    Alles Gute,

  3. Héctor says:

    ¿Por qué existe la controversia acerca de Alejandro Magno con Grecia?

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