Earlier this year David had the opportunity to explore Macedonia and explore what to see in and around Skopje. In this episode, David shows us around this eastern European capital.
Skopje is Macedonia’s cultural, economic and political hub. It’s not the most popular European city but can be quite fascinating for those who can appreciate its centuries-old history and multi-cultural traditions.
The Kale Fortress is a perfect example of Macedonia’s long history at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. The fortress has stood watch over the city since the 6th century. From its walls you’ll get sweeping views of Skopje.
Next stop: the Old Bazaar. A must when in Skopje is to browse the shops and cobblestone streets of the Old Bazaar. The neighborhood is full of mosques and hammams like the one David visits in this episode.
As you keep exploring the Old Bazaar you’ll find several shops, cafes, and old inns.
By contrast, the Art Bridge represents modern Skopje. It is lined with statues of famous Macedonian artists and musicians leading up to the National Archaeology Museum.
The Stone Bridge is another pedestrian bridge that crosses the Varnar River, linking the old and new parts of the city. Originally constructed under Roman Emperor Justinian, it was rebuilt in the 15th century by the Ottomans.
On one side of the bridge is the Old Bazaar and on the other is Skopje’s central square AKA Macedonia Square.
If you’re looking to buy something authentically Macedonian and don’t want a cheap souvenir, buy a Macedonian ruby. These precious gemstones aren’t red like Asian or Indian rubies. Instead they are raspberry-pink and make very unique gifts.
Next up is the Mother Teresa Memorial House – a museum, chapel and multimedia center honoring the late Mother Teresa, who was born in Skopje in 1910. It was built in 2009 two years after her death. Here you’ll see memorabilia and photos from her life and humanitarian work.
Afterwards, David heads to the surroundings of Skopje. First up is the Skopje Aqueduct, just 3 kilometers from the center of Skopje. It was first built by the Romans and used by the Byzantines and Ottomans to supply the city with water from the neighboring mountains. Today, 56 arches remain.
A half-hour drive south brings David and his cinematographer to the Byzantine Church of Saint Panteleimon. What is most impressive is what church holds inside – dozens of religious frescos depicting the life and death of Jesus. David gives us a peak at the most famous of its frescoes.
A 30-minute drive southwest of the church brings the crew to Canyon Matka, a natural gorge that is popular with climbers, hikers, and nature lovers. Rent a boat to see Vrelo Cave, one of 10 caves found in Matka. When you’re done you can stick around to have lunch at the Canyon Matka Restaurant.
Skopje isn’t your typical European capital. It is currently experiencing an urban revival thanks to government-funded building projects across the city.
If time allows, dedicate a couple of days to explore what to see in and around Skopje.
Special thanks to Macedonia Timeless and XShot.