Top 7 unmissable sights in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia
The architecture, atmosphere and cityscape of Skopje are so interesting, contradictory and strange that it is difficult to introduce them with a catchy sentence.
This is mainly due to the fact that in 1963 a huge earthquake shook the city, and 75% of the buildings were damaged, so most of the city actually had to be rebuilt. In addition, a development project was launched in 2010, the aim of which was to make the capital more spectacular and attractive to tourists by 2014. They may have gone a little overboard!
An interesting fact: the clock at the local train station stopped at 5:17 a.m. at the time of the earthquake, and has been showing this time ever since.
So there is literally everything here, monuments, statues, the Macedonian Gate looking exactly like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, double-decker buses like in London, a graffiti wall reminiscent of Berlin, but I will show you everything one by one.
However, I would say that Skopje is undoubtedly the city of sculptures - if I had to describe it, perhaps this would be the most appropriate description. Because I have never seen so many statues in one place in my life, practically you can't walk for a minute without coming across one statue after another. And they especially like the lion motif! These big cats appear on bridges, rooftops, fountains and everywhere else.
1 Bridge of Arts
Speaking of sculptures, let's start our list with this very imposing bridge. The gilded candelabra and the marble make this bridge very elegant and spectacular, as well as the Prosecutor's Office building on the other side, but this is not its special feature, but the fact that there are no less than 29 statues on the bridge, which represent Macedonian writers, artists, musicians are depicted. I simply called it a sculpture bridge, but this was a hasty decision, because this is not the only bridge full of sculptures.
2 The bazaar
I think the "Old Bazaar" is one of the best places in all of Skopje. We went back there every day during our stay, to look around, have lunch, smoke hookah, get sweets or drink coffee - it's so cozy.
There are many shops here, selling souvenirs, sweets, leather goods, gold, evening dresses, and of course a lot of fake stuff - it reminds me a bit of the bazaar in Istanbul. Be sure to drink Turkish tea or coffee in one of the cafés with a hookah - at least for the sake of the atmosphere!
There are also very good restaurants here, we ate here several times, they have so many delicious dishes: kebab, Ajvar, Sopszka salad, baked beans, French fries, and all of this together with wine cost about 18-20 euros for 2 people.
What I really like here is that the caterers don't chase away stray dogs and cats, you often see cats chilling on chairs in cafes. There was a cat next to us in the restaurant too!
We don't have to go far from the bazaar to admire the gigantic equestrian statue of Alexander the Great, surrounded by lions, just walk across the Stone Bridge that connects the two. This is the oldest bridge in the city, also a landmark of Skopje, crossing the Vardar River. It was built in the 1460s, during the Turkish era, by II. Ottoman Sultan Mehmed.
If you look down from the bridge, you can even see a statue in the water, it's amazing!
The contradictions of the city stand out well on the square, between the gigantic statue and projector and the fancy buildings , many crumbling houses can be seen - anyway, I got the impression during the few days I spent there that they build a lot of things, but then they don't take care of them afterwards at all and just leave it like that.
4. Street Art Gallery
It is not a typical tourist attraction, but it still ranks high on my list.
The largest collection of street art in Skopje can be found on the lower level of the slightly dilapidated Gradski Trgvoski Centar shopping center at the exit. It's in a pretty secluded spot and no one but us was there, so its popularity still needs to be raised, but I think it's worth checking out.
In 2018, the paintings were created by local artists. There is also a cat among them, of course it was my favorite!
It reminds me a bit of Berlin, but in a city where London double-decker buses run, nothing is surprising!
5. Church of Saint Klement
St. Clement's Church is the largest Orthodox Christian church in the country. It is amazingly beautiful from the outside, even though it was built only a few decades ago, and it is also a stunning inside, worth a visit.
6. Vodno mountain and the Millennium Cross
You can get to the top of the 1066 meter high Vodno mountain with a modern cable car, for about 2.2 euros per person.
There is a beautiful view of the city and the surrounding mountains from the top of the hill. I would like to point out here that it was added to the list because of the panorama! The Millennium Cross alone would not be worth the trip, it's okay that there is nothing special about it - apart from the fact that it is lit up at night and with the moon it offers a magnificent view from the city - but it is completely neglected, there used to be a restaurant at the bottom, but that is no longer the case only the broken glasses serve as a reminder, there is trash everywhere around it, I don't even understand it all, it's a sad sight. But they are already building a new observation deck next to it - I just don't understand why they can't take care of the existing one.
There is a kisok at the cable car, so you can wait there if needed to, because the cable car is stopped for half an hour every half hour.
All in all, it's worth going up, but not because of the cross.
7 Matka Canyon
Matka Canyon is approx. 15 km from the capital, Skopje. It can be easily reached by bus or taxi. The daily ticket for the bus costs about 2.2 euros, but it operates quite rarely, and the one that was suppose to be our bus hit someone when it turned into the bus station, and the next one would have come in an hour and a half - so we had to take a taxi, which costs about 20-24 euros.
Lake Matka is the oldest artificial lake in North Macedonia.
The canyon is fabulous, you can go kayaking, water biking and thus explore a smaller area or pay for a one-hour boat trip that takes you to the Vrelo cave - we chose this program, which is 9 euros /person.
Although the cave is small, it is very interesting and of course it is easier to explore the canyon this way.
What surprised me was that the locals just smoke in the small boat - which wouldn't be a problem, but then they casually throw the cigarettes into the crystal clear water. I just don't get it...
After the boat trip, we sat down in a cafe on the beach to enjoy the view a little before we set out to find the bus stop. By the way, it went so well that we walked for at least 40-50 minutes, until the local police took pity on us in the village where we got lost and took us to the nearest bus station. It so happened that we even traveled in a Macedonian police car.
I would like to say a few words about the trip and our accommodation at the end, because I know that you are usually interested in travel expenses.
I bought the flight ticket on the website of the pink low-cost airline for HUF 125 euros for two people, including a suitcase. We rented an apartment in the city center, 2 streets away from the main square. It was very spacious and comfortable, with a huge living room with an American kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom and a balcony. I have already mixed my morning Activate fiber shake to eat on the terrace - as I have to eat glutenfree, I am prepared for anything and usually take something healthy for breakfast with me - but the breakfast was brought by the landlord of the apartment each morning , we got fruits, chia pudding, eggs, salad, all kinds of delicacies - sharp at nine in the morning, every day! And all this for 3 nights for 2 people for 105 euros.
I hope I got you in the mood to explore Skopje!
Top 7 unmissable sights in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia
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