Read about the city
The northern Macedonian capital Skopje is an experience not found anywhere else in the world. All over the city center you will find newly erected buildings that are monumentally inspired by columns and porticos from ancient Greece and Rome.
Popularly, in recent years, a city has been erected that has not been seen for nearly 2,000 years. The temple style and ancient references are everywhere, and it is like walking around in a mix of bygone times, modern entertainment and a European metropolis. Countless statues and monuments stand among the impressive buildings of modern classicism.
The new Skopje has been erected on the ruins following the earthquake that left much of the city desolate in 1963. A large-scale reconstruction was initiated, and many houses from the Yugoslav era are interfering with the street scene today; just as modern architecture does it in the form of, for example, churches and the house that stands as a monument to Mother Theresa.
- Macedonia Gate/Порта Македонија: Порта Македонија is a 21 meter/68 feet high triumphal arch built 2011-2012. The construction happened as a mark of Macedonia's first 20 years as an independent nation.
- The Archaeological Museum of Macedonia/Археолошки музеј на Македонија: At the Macedonian Archaeological Museum one can see fine collections representing different eras in the country's history. You get a good introduction to the cultures of the region upon a visit.
- Saint Clement of Ohrid Cathedral Church/Соборна црква, Свети Климент Охридски: This church is the largest Orthodox church in the main Macedonian church. It was built from 1972 and inaugurated on August 12, 1990. The exterior is one of Skopje's many charactestic structures, and inside you can see a nice nave.
- Kapan An/Капан ан: Kapan An is one of the hostels, named karavansarais, which opened in Skopje's old town as an accommodation for business travelers in bygone eras. You still get the impression from those days when visiting Kapan An.
- Museum of the Macedonian Struggle/Музеј на македонската борба: The Museum of Macedonian Struggle is a museum dedicated to Macedonia's long struggle for freedom. It started in larger scale during the Ottoman era in the 19th century when Macedonians wanted freedom from the Muslim Turkish rulers.
- The Art Bridge/Мост на уметноста: The art bridge is 83 meters/272 feet long and it is built with 29 sculptures along its passage of the Vardar River. Of these, 14 are on each side of the bridge, while the last one is centrally placed.
- Mother Teresa's Memorial House/Спомен-куќа на Мајка Тереза: Mother Teresa's Memorial House is, as the name implies, dedicated to the memory of Nobel Laureate Mother Teresa. It is a memorial in the center of the city.
- Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary/църква Рождество на Пресвета Богородица: This church has its roots in the Bulgarian congregation in Skopje and it was built when the Ottoman building regulations were loosened in the 1800s.
Read about city history
The history of Skopje can be traced back to the millennium BC Archaeological finds at Skopje's Kale Fortress show that unidentified people lived here in prehistoric times between Late Neapolitan and Early Bronze Age. Scientists believe they can even date back to earlier than the year 4000 BC Actual documentation and records of and in the Skopje region date from the 300s BC. It is believed that the people of the time lived by primitive cultivation of the land and cattle breeding.
From the 300s BC the Dardans settled here, and today's Skopje (Skupi) became the capital of Dardania, extending from Naissus to Bylazora in the 100th century BC.
The Roman Empire
With the expansion of the Roman Empire to the east, the Macedonian area also came under Rome. Even before the birth of Christ there may have been Roman soldiers in the region, but it was not until the 100th century AD that Skopje by the name of Scupi became part of the Roman Empire. In the year 86, Skopje gained the status of colonia and it became the capital of the new province of Moesia Superior.
Roman times became a period of flourishing. Roman administrators reorganized public life and began lifting culture and art to unprecedented heights. The city was also Latinized, and the Roman colonists gained civil rights.
Skopje became an important city that was strategically well located on crossroads in the region. Interesting archaeological finds from especially the Bardovci area show that there was a Roman theater and other institutions from major Roman cities.
Skopje and the current Macedonian area also became Christian quite early. With the legalization of Christianity through the edict in Milan in the year 313, Scupi became the seat of a bishop.
Among other things, Scupi's bishop participated in the first ecumenical council held in Nicea in 325. Several other accounts show that the bishops and Christianity had an impact on society and on the arts.
The Byzantine Age
With the division of the Roman Empire into an East Roman and a West Roman part in the year 395, Skopje came under the Byzantine emperors of Constantinople.
The city continued to develop as a typical Late Roman town with administrative palaces, a theater, public baths, fortifications, paved squares and streets, water supply, churches and so on. It was a relatively peaceful period, however, interrupted by invading tribes and people like Goths and females.
The 518 earthquake and Justinian I
In 518, development was interrupted when an earthquake struck and destroyed both the city of Scupi and almost all of Macedonia. The sudden catastrophe put an end to civilized life in Scupi and buried its built-up achievements for centuries. Fortunately, most of the population had escaped the certain death due to a circumstance that turned out to be bad luck. Citizens had expected a tribal attack and had therefore fled to the surrounding hills, Skopska Crna Gora, the previous night.
Instead of a reconstruction of Scupi, people moved to other nearby places and established themselves there. It was not least about the birthplace of Emperor Justinian I, Taoresium, where numerous splendid buildings were erected in his honor; palaces, homes, fountains, squares etc.
Justinian I founded the city of Justinian Prima in 535, and it became archbishopric after taking over after Scupi. Justinian Prima is associated with today's Skopje, which got its present name from Slavic tribes who migrated and settled in the Macedonian area after Justinian's death in 565.
Byzantines, Bulgarians and Serbs
For centuries, Skopje and the Macedonian area became the scene of political struggles between Byzantines and Bulgarians. The city changed hands several times, and in the years 972-992 was the capital of the first Bulgarian empire. The Bulgarian Empire fell in 1018, after which both Skopje and Bulgaria became part of the Byzantine Empire; still with Skopje as the capital of the region.
In the 13th century there was again a fight for Skopje between Bulgarians and Byzantines, who in 1282 had to surrender power and the city to the Serbian king Stefan Uroš II Milutin. Skopje also quickly became an important city for the Serbs, and Milutin's grandson, Stefan Dušan, made the city the Serbian capital, and he was crowned tsar here in 1346.
Stefan Dušan died in 1355, and after his time the Serbian Empire disintegrated, resulting in fragmentation of the declining kingdom. The Serbs' fall also temporarily ended Christianity as the country's religion, with the Islamic Ottoman Empire conquering Skopje and the area in 1392.
Ottoman growth in Skopje
The Muslim Ottoman government came to Skopje for 520 years, and the Turks called the city Üsküb. With the Ottomans came new institutions such as mosques and Turkish baths, and the Ottoman architecture also made its mark on Skopje. The city also developed commercially during this period; among others, strengthened by many Sephardic Jews who immigrated from Spain. Several other buildings also date from this time; eg the city's famous and centrally located bridge, Камен мост [Kamen Most].
In the first centuries under the Ottomans many of the mosques that can still be seen today were built and many churches were demolished or decorated as mosques. Construction activity stopped some time in 1555 when another earthquake struck the city. At that time, 40,000-50,000 inhabitants lived in the city.
Üsküb had started at a time of decline, which, in addition to less trade and administration, caused the population to decline dramatically. In the 19th century, there were thus only about 10,000 inhabitants left in the former somewhat larger city.
The turnaround came with the railroad, which opened in 1873, finishing the line to Thessaloniki. The trajectory brought trade and new prosperity and growth. In a few decades, the population had risen to around 30,000, and Üsküb had gained importance in the region. These were disintegrating times in the Ottoman Empire, and the people were increasingly fighting for their freedom from Turkish rule. The Ilinden uprising in 1903 became the first major uprising against the regime, which finally fell in 1912, when the Serbian army won over the Ottomans.
World War II
There were several acts of war in the years 1912-1913, which temporarily ended with the endorsement of the Serbian regime in Skopje. However, with the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Kingdom of Bulgaria quickly occupied Skopje. World War I ended in 1918, and during the period 1918-1939, Skopje and Macedonia were part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, consisting mainly of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia.
The Kingdom of that time was destroyed during World War II, with German troops occupying Skopje on April 7, 1941. Later, the occupation turned to Bulgarian forces. Yugoslavia was at war, and in September 1944 the communists took power in Bulgaria, thereby changing their war effort. On November 13, Bulgarian military and Macedonian liberation forces were able to besiege Skopje, who could soon join Yugoslavia as the capital of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia.
1944 to the 1963 earthquake
About 150,000 people lived in Skopje at the end of World War II. It was a figure that turned into around 600,000 in Skopje time in Yugoslavia, ending with the country's independence in 1991.
Skopje grew through the socialist era as one of the country's main cities and through the industrialization and urbanization that occurred throughout the country. The biggest setback for the population and for the city came on July 26, 1963, when an earthquake shook the city to unfamiliarity. The quake measured 6.1 on the Richter scale, and the epi-center was quite close to Skopje's city center, and the effects were almost devastating. More than 1,000 people were killed, while about 200,000 became homeless, with about 80% of the city being graveled. A great reconstruction stood in front of the city and the country, and of famous buildings, not least the many neoclassical houses of the 18th-18th century disappeared.
After the 1963 earthquake, much of Skopje was rebuilt in contemporary brutalism, which is seen in some places in Yugoslavia. A rebuilding period came after the Macedonian independence in 1991, when some institutions were to be established or expanded in the following period.
However, the biggest and most visible development has happened in recent years through the so-called Skopje 2014 program, which was adopted in 2010. Skopje 2014 is intended as a reconstruction of Skopje's former classicist architecture and buildings. About 20 major buildings, bridges and countless monuments have been erected, and the city center has been transformed into a brand new and impressive monument of features of Macedonian history.
Skjul indhold her