Skopje is the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, the City that lies in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, at the crossroad of important communications, a city with a 2000 years old tradition. Skopje is a modern city with population of almost one million and presents Macedonia’s major political, economical, educational and cultural center. It continues to be a focus for new residents, economic development, construction and refurbishment. Skopje urban area extends across the Skopje valley for approximately 30 kilometers (18.75 mi) in width and comprises 10 municipalities.
Skopje also is a very attractive tourist destination with its fortress, cultural and historical monuments, archaeological sites, sport halls, caves in the canyon of the River Treska and Lake Matka and a health spa in the eastern part of the city.
Skopje is steadily becoming a vital regional route for international flight operators. The town with the beautiful quay of the Macedonian river “Vardar”, the narrow streets in the Old Bazaar which is the biggest bazaar preserved in the Balkans today, the town is internationally famous for being the birthplace of Mother Teresa. He has blossomed into a thriving, stimulating city to explore, defining itself as an exciting tourist destination with the 1500 years old fortress Kale and monastery St. Pantelejmon with the fresco ”Lamentation of Christ”, with the first signs of the Renaissance, the Islamic monuments Sultan Murat’s- Hjunkar Mosque, the Daut Pasha’s bath.
History and culture
In its 2,500 years of existence, Macedonia’s welcoming capital city has had many different embodiments. All of them – from Roman to Byzantine, from Ottoman to Yugoslav – have left permanent traces on the city as is evidenced by Skopje’s varied architecture and its mix of cultures. Yet in addition to its strong historical associations, Skopje is a forward-looking city offering an abundance of modern amenities and attractions. Apart from being the capital of the modern Republic of Macedonia, Skopje has always been a center of power yearned for by various empires. Situated on the banks of the River Vardar, a vital trade route is being founded by the Dardanians in the 3rd c. B.C known as “Skupi”, a much prized city for its strategic location. When the Romans ruled, Skopje was made administrative center of the Dardanian Province. The city’s prestige started to grow when the Orthodox Church made it an Episcopal seat during the early Byzantine Empire. Slavic tribes who migrated from the Carpathians in the 6th c. A.D changed both the city’s name and the origin of its people as the descendants of the ancient Macedonians were assimilated by the Slavic newcomers. Throughout the remaining centuries of Byzantium Skopje continued to be an important mercantile center, situated as it was at the crossroads of Balkan trade and communications routes. It was celebrated for its urban life and fortress and distinguished for having the most beautiful church in the region. At the very end of the 14th c., Macedonia fell under the sway of the Ottoman Turks. In the centuries to come, the town’s profile was altered by the construction of many mosques, Turkish baths, bridges and other buildings attesting to the new Oriental influence. Today, the Ottoman legacy remains visible in Skopje’s architecture and present among the Islamic minority. This latter tendency reached its zenith in 1963 when a catastrophic earthquake destroyed much of the regal old city.
After Macedonia was liberated from the Turks’ sway in the early 20th century, it became a Republic of the Yugoslav Federation with Skopje as its capital. At the time, the prosperous city boasted many neoclassical buildings laid out harmoniously in a more or less Central European style. However, in 1963 a dreadful earthquake destroyed much of the regal old city. An international competition to redesign the city was won by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. Skopje was reborn in a imaginative, futuristic style. His creations, such as the National Theater with its sloping roof of concrete, have shaped Skopje’s modern skyline. To this very day, the clock on the remaining wall of the old railway station remains stuck at 5:17 – the moment when the earthquake hit.