With all of its perfections and flaws, Skopje is a city like no other. We grew up here, we live here, we work here.. All of our memories with the people we care the most about are created on the streets of Skopje. We are proud of the city with inexhaustible energy. The city that almost never sleeps. The wonderful squares, the biggest monument on the Balkan Peninsula, the City Park, Vodno and Matka, the Vrelo caves, the way Vardar cuts it in half, the Millenium cross, the Old town bazaar, the Kale fortress .. all of these represent a certain period and tell a different story of the capital city of the land of the sun.
After being held captive under many empires over time (including Ottoman and Roman) Macedonia finally gained its independence in 1991. Set on the upper course of the Vardar River, Skopje is the capital and largest city in the Republic of Macedonia. Despite being over 6000 years old and being nearly demolished in the 1963 earthquake, the city looks rather modern and contemporary. The monuments set throughout the whole city will share the story of Skopje’s growth as the country’s political, cultural, economic, and academic center.
A little over a half a million citizens have inhabited the grounds of the city previously known as „Skupi“. Both Christians and Muslims still gather at the Old Bazaar, one of the largest marketplaces in the Balkan Peninsula, stretched between the Stone Bridge and the Skopje Fortress. The fortress, also known as Kale, is situated at the highest point in the Old town overlooking the Vardar River. Kale is one of the best sightseeing places in Skopje which offers a fantastic view of the city and proximity to the sites of the city’s Ottoman Old Bazaar. It is believed that long time ago, during the Neolithic and Bronze ages or roughly 4000 before Christ, this area was inhabited. According to some researches, Kale was built in the 6th century A.D. with stone walls long approximately 121 meters and beautiful square stone towers. After the earthquake in 1963 the square towers were restored and protected from further detriment. Today, Kale represents a beautiful historic fortress and an ideal place for having relaxed time with family or friends. This beautiful historic landmark gives you a chance to enjoy observing the outstanding beauty of Skopje and a chance to capture breath-taking views of Macedonia’s capital.
For those who seek a little more adventure and outdoor activities, hiking or biking, limits are nonexistent in the forest of the Vodno Mountain. The Millennium Cross (Macedonian: Милениумски крст, Latinic: Mileniumski krst), built as a memorial to 2000 years of Christianity, is situated right at the „Krstovar“ peek, the highest point of the mountain. The construction of the 66 metre-high cross began in 2002 and was funded by the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Macedonian government and donations from Macedonians from all over the world. On 8 September 2008, the independence day of the Republic of Macedonia, an elevator was installed inside the cross. In 2009, a restaurant and a souvenir shop were opened next to the cross. In 2011 the Millennium Cross ropeway was opened. The ropeway is three and a half km long. At night the cross shines down over the city.
The Old Bazaar in Skopje is the largest bazaar in the Balkans outside Istanbul. It is situated on the eastern bank of the Vardar River, stretching from the Stone Bridge to the Bit-Pazar and from the Skopje “Kale” Fortress to the Serava river. The Old Bazaar falls within the borders of Centar and Čair municipalities and is a protected national landmark since October 13th 2008. During the Ottoman rule with the city, the place underwent a rapid development to become city’s main economic and merchant center, evidenced by about 30 mosques, numerous caravanserais and hans. The Ottoman architecture is predominant in the Old Bazaar, although remains of the Byzantine architecture are evident as well, while the most recent reconstructions lead to the application of elements specific to the Modern architecture. Most of the buildings and Hans were transformed into museums and galleries, which today are used with the main purpose to host art exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events. Nowadays, however, the place and its proximity are still home to several mosques, two churches and a clocktower, that together with the buildings of the Museum of Macedonia and the Museum of Modern Art form the core of the modern bazaar.
The traditional Macedonian cuisine combines Balkan and Mediterranean characteristics, inherited largely from Turkish tastes that prevailed during long centuries of Ottoman rule. The travelers are delighted with the taste of Macedonian tomato, carrots, lettuces, parsley, onions, an garlic, and not to mention the rich flavor and aroma of fresh fruit, such as watermelons, melons, cherries, apricots, grapes, peaches, and others. Most herbs are collected in the local mountains and in the countryside, and these herbs are renowned for their taste, have scent and healing properties. Try some of the most famous, traditional Macedonian specialties such as Tavche Gravche, ajvar, sarma and burek while having a glass of the best beer or wine.
Tavche Gravche (beans in a skillet) is a traditional dish. The boiled beans first and then mixed with onion, peppers, tomato, oil, flour and various spices baked in a pottery saucepan.
Ajvar (ayvar) is a relish made principally from red bell peppers, with eggplant, garlic and chilli pepper. It’s traditionally homemade all over the country at the beginning of the fall. Ajvar can be consumed as a bread spread, in sandwiches, a condiment, or a salad.
Burek is a type of pie popular throughout the former Ottoman Empire. In Macedonia, burek is made from layers of thick dough, alternating with layers of other fillings in a circular baking pan and topped with a layer of dough. Fillings are stewed ground meat, white cheese, spinach. Burek without filling is also made, and it’s known as Simit Pogacha when served into a roll.
Sarma is the name of a minced meat (usually beef, pork, veal, rice, onions, and various spices, including salt, pepper and various local herbs are mixed together and then rolled into large plant leaves of grape or cabbage. Macedonian wines rank among the best value and most drinkable wines available anywhere.
The Macedonian wineyards, especially the ones in Tikves valley area are characteristic by the exquisite grapes and even better masters for preparation of this strong alcoholic drink. The lengthy ripening process concentrates the sugar and acids in the grapes, ensuring rich colours and complex aromas in our wines.
Beer – Skopsko today is a real trademark of Macedonia (4.9% pale lager introduced in 1924). With a taste on which much bigger producers in the world would envy it, today it is a regional leader when we are talking about the taste and the quality. It is made of barley malt; unmalted cereals; hops; and brewers yeast.