Wanderlist Discover: Skopje, Macedonia
Skopje is a melting pot of many identities and tags. Once a historic city at the heart of the Balkan region, with 2000 year traditional roots, it gradually underwent a complete change of image thanks to a controversial, nationalistic project led by one of the former Prime Minsters of the country. As a result, today Skopje is a city is filled with towering marble statues and mega fountains, as well as the Old Bazaar and other monuments that pay tribute to its multi-cultural heritage. Skopje continues to remain the political, economic and cultural centre of the country, and fiercely protects its prized cultural heritage. Take a walk around the town and its outskirts to explore the local fortress, the archaeological sites and the beauty of the caves and other natural spots around the city. Its a great place to visit for a couple of days, and is also perfect as a base camp for exploring other towns in the nearby Balkan region.
A COUPLE OF ACTIVITIES YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS
- The Millennium Cross : Located on the top of the Vodno Mountain, the highest point in Skopje, the Millennium Cross is a memorial to 2000 years of Christianity in Macedonia. It was built on a spot known as “Krstovar” or the Place of the Cross, since the time of the Ottoman Empire. There is a restaurant and a souvenir shop near the cross, and the area gives you a bird’s eye view of the Skopje town.
- The Old Bazaar : The second largest bazaar in the Balkan regions, second only to the one in Istanbul, the Old Bazaar is a protected national landmark. It is documented to have existed as far back as in the 12th century, and has survived several earthquakes, wars and other disasters, and been recontructed several times. Today, it represents the only standing multi-cultural monument, with a heritage that spans different civilizations.
- A Visit to the Mother Teresa Memorial House : The most famous child of Skopje, and Macedonia, Mother Teresa has a Memorial House dedicated to her and her life. It is located where the old Catholic Church used to stand, and where Gonxha Bijaxhiu, as Mother Teresa, was known in her childhood, was baptized.
Best Time To Go: May to October
The best time to visit is from May through to October, when the weather is the warmest and the driest, although sometimes the temperatures can get to be too hot for comfort. Stay hydrated and remain indoors at such times. The evenings may be quite cool during this period. So bring lightweight clothing for the summer months, with warmer wear for the evenings.
Where in the world:
Skopje is the capital of the land-locked country of Republic of Macedonia, one of the many successor states of the former Yugoslavia. Macedonia shares its borders with Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania.
Fun Fact: The Matka Canyon is a deep gorge about 15 kms south-west of Skopje. The scenery is absolutely wonderful, with rocky mountains and mesmerising green water. It has several medieval building, including churches, monasteries and even a fortress, and is a perfect place for adventure activities such a hiking, rock-climbing or kayaking.
- Language : Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, some English
- Currency : Macedonian Denar (MKD); 1 USD = 50 MKD
- How to Get Around : The local bus network is quite vast and efficient, and covers a majority of the city. In addition to the public buses (red coloured buses), there are also private buses (all colours other than red) that run on the streets, where you pay the driver directly. You can also take local taxis around town. Just make sure you take a taxi with a visible taxi meter, and the driver turns on the meter, and does not expect a fixed price.
The Discover Series by Wanderlist
Discover less explored destinations & places that have never been on your travel radar with our Discover Series. Every week we will share a beautiful underrated city you should add to your travel bucket list.