Located in a grand neoclassical building set along the banks of the Vardar River, the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle opened its doors on September 8th, 2011: the twentieth anniversary of the country’s independence from Yugoslavia.
Thought to have been built in the 6th century AD, Skopje’s fortress is its most famous symbol. The Kale (pronounced “kah-lay,” not like the vegetable) is located atop a hill on the northern side of the Vardar River, providing it a commanding view over the old town.
Whether you’re in the market for fresh fruit, cheap clothing, or simply a rollicking good time, head over to Skopje’s Bit Pazar, at the northern end of Čaršija. This is one of the largest outdoor markets in the Balkans, with a history dating back to the 14th century, when Skopje was firmly within the Ottoman Empire.
Skopje has only been the capital of an independent country for around twenty years. That’s nothing in comparison with the 520 years it spent as part the Ottoman Empire, a period during which it was known as Üsküb. Five centuries of Muslim rule were enough to leave a lasting impression. With mosques, bath houses, tea gardens, nargile cafes, and the sound of dice rattling across backgammon boards, the neighborhood known as the Old Bazaar, or Čaršija, has retained much of its Turkish identity.
Stretched out along the Vardar River, Skopje is a long and narrow city whose expansion to the south is hindered by the presence of Mount Vodno. We took a cable car to the mountain’s summit for a close-up look of the Millennium Cross, and for a birds-eye view over the region.