09.08.2018 - 09.11.2018 80 °F
I loved Skopje! It is the most beautiful sham city (Skopje 2014 project) I’ve ever visited. It’s a vibrant city full of grandiose buildings, statues, bridges, shopping, restaurants and bars. It has the charm of an old European city with cobblestone walkways and a fabulous marble city square. There is a giant statue in the middle of Macedonia Square of Alexander the Great and an equally grand fountain beneath him. There are more statues here than any one place in Europe, and where everything looks like it has been here for hundreds of years, the truth is most everything is less than 10 years old. To be more precise, it was created as the Skopje 2014 project. The purpose was to give the capital Skopje a more classical appeal. The project, announced in 2010, consists mainly of the construction of colleges, museums and government buildings, as well as the erection of monuments depicting historical figures from the region of Macedonia. Around 20 buildings and over 40 monuments have been constructed as part of the project. There are a lot of disagreements about this project and a lot of corruption to go with it but for me it is beautiful and memorable.
In 1963 Skopje earthquake destroyed approximately 80% of the city, including most of the neoclassical buildings in the central part of Skopje. The rebuilding that followed was mostly plain modernist architecture. This is one of the reasons given by the government for the necessity of the project, to give Skopje a more monumental and visually pleasing image. Another reason is to restore the missing sense of national pride and create a more metropolitan atmosphere. In February 2018, the government and institutions of the Republic of Macedonia announced the halt of the Skopje 2014 program and begun removing its controversial monuments and statues.
The official name in the United Nations is the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M). However, a recent agreement has been made between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia that the country’s name shall be “Republic of North Macedonia”. This will be official once the country votes to approve it. Once the name has been ratified, the hope of the Northern Macedonia country is to be part of NATO. This naming dispute has gone on since 1992, let’s hope they can finally agree.
A memorable part of our stay was our venture to the Millennium Cross. What started out as an easy day out, a taxi ride to the cable car and then taking the cable car to the Cross - easy peasy right? As we were sitting there admiring the breathtaking view, someone had the brilliant idea to walk down the mountain (not 15 minutes earlier, that same person said “this tram is going on forever“). But hey, why not have a little adventure, after all there are roads to take us down, it’s not like we will be climbing down a rock face hill, right? So we start our walk down that road getting bored pretty quickly when we noticed people hiking up a fairly easy trail. We asked them if we could take that trail down to the road and they said yes, no problem. Sure enough, 5 minutes later, we were back on that boring road - but then we see another trail and decide to take that one too. No problem, got back on the road and a few minutes later found another trail. Well, those short trails were adventurous and fun, so we kept taking them. Not knowing where these trails went, we kept taking them until the last trail (who knew it would be the last trail) that never stopped until we were at the bottom. And that last trail got steeper and slippery as we climbed down. After about 30 minutes we ran into someone much younger than us climbing up the hill (show off). We asked him if we were going in the right direction? lucky for us he said yes, but then as he passed he also said be careful - Uh-oh! Did I mention we were wearing flip flops - Oops! (Kids, don’t try this at home). Well, we made it down with no noticeable injuries, took us about 90 minutes in all and we had a great adventure. As for me personally, I couldn’t walk without pain for the next 2 days. Ah, good times. ??
So many statues
Skopje Fortress commonly referred to as Kale
Macedonia Square is the main square of Skopje
Cable Car to the Cross
A gigantic cross (the entire 217 ft high) that holds the title as the world’s largest cross. Millenium Cross stands on top of the Mount Vodno, and it was built as a memorial in connection to the 2000 years jubilee of Christianity.
Hiking down from the top of Mount Vodno
Not the best hiking shoes
Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, and her birthplace has become a popular tourist attraction where you can visit her memorial house.
The Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia is a memorial to the holocaust of the 7,148 Jews from Macedonia and the history of the Jews in the Balkans. Unfortunately, this museum is currently closed.