"Moeto Skopjence" Skopje by Malecka
Skopje Travel Guide: 837 reviews and 2,165 photos
(written some time in April, 2012)
A few days ago I saw this catchy title of IFC's blog post and read it in a blink, in a heartbeat... The very title touched me. Its specific wording moved me. It did not ask me how I felt in my city, instead it cleverly asked me how Skopje made me feel. It made me think about what I felt... And I've been writing the answer to that question, trying to give it some structure. I've been trying to give some meaningful architecture to the emotional response it provoked.
It was some time in 2001 when I came across a very cool website called Virtual Tourist where I have been posting what I consider to be useful information on the places that I have visited, and of course, on the place that has left the biggest imprint upon who I am. Neither then, nor now would I dare "promote" Skopje for its glorious appearance - outstanding buildings, intricate façades or particularly creative urban layout. It has not been a corner of the world that tantalizes the cameras with its sleek avenues, daring edifices or innovative constructional solutions. Particularly after the catastrophic earthquake it suffered in 1963.
...The endless charm of this city has always been its playfulness... Its unpretentiousness, its liveliness, its rough edges.
It has seduced both its citizens and its visitors as they would enjoy a cup of coffee under the sunny skies, leaning into the chairs and overlooking the always busy Macedonia street (used to be called Marshal Tito, but that's a different story), where children's voices, as they run around, mash up together with grown ups' conversations, music from nearby cafés, dogs' barking, and impatient drivers' honking. Skopje houses an eclectic street buzz that mixes in the loud laughter of its somewhat temperamental locals, the sounds of the roller-skates, bicycles and tennis shoes of those who opt for some recreation on the quay of the overly polluted Vardar, the juxtaposition of a jazz concert and the irritating notes of kitsch turbo-folk music from a nearby kafana ("kafana" - establishment less fancier than a restaurant with infinitely better food).
It has captivated those who dare to look beyond the physical appearance with its numerous contrasts - an Orthodox church across a beautiful building that was once a public Turkish spa, a shoe-shiner who carefully preserves his own craft in front of a modern, business center.
Skopje has always been a capital that has embraced many cute neighbourhoods with a small-town feel, it's got a crowded center and yet, in midst of what might seem as a sea of anonymity, more often than not acquaintances and friends run into each other filling up the air around them with smiles and hugs.
I've head a long-time love affair with this city. We've had our ups and downs, as any other relationship, but I've always cared so much about this love of mine.
Until very recently that is...
Which brings me back to the question IFC asked me... Facing the completely-out-of-place, tasteless and irrelevant to Skopje's existence "Gate Macedonia", with my back turned to an over-sized monument that is falsely nurishing this illusion of national identity and serves to add tension to an already strained relationship, surrounded by imposed products presented to this city's people as "neo-baroque," I am looking for an answer to that question.
"How does my city make me feel? Sadly enough, through no fault of its own, it makes me feel as if it were not mine any more.
THIS WAS MY VERY FIRST intro for these pages
Feel a bit weird writing about Skopje, because the "objectivity" factor needs to be ON!!!
I decided to put a picture of Old Skopje here because I am one of those people that still cannot get over that Earthquake in 1963. Skopje was really amazing back then (in terms of the architecture).
But now, I admit, architecture-wise it is not the most impressive place you'll see - HOWEVER... it still HAS A LOT TO OFFER TO ANYONE WHO'S HERE FOR A VISIT (actually you can't feel like a guest here too long - cause you become part of the city in no time and feel at home)
Found sth about this city's history! Hope you like it
The name of this city has remained basically the same throughout the centuries: Skupi (in the Ancient times), Skupis, Skopia (roman-byzantium period), Iskib, Uskup (Ottoman period), Skopje, Skoplje (Slavic period)…
Some of the archeological findings confirm the hypothesis that the territory of today’s Skopje had been inhabited even in the early Neolith (stone age), seven or eight millenniums BC. According to some archeologists and historians the tribe called Peons first inhabited the territory. It is assumed that they have given the name Skupi meaning: a shelter, a hut. The birth of the city is associated with the coming of the Roman army (13-11th year BC), in the time of the Roman Emperor’s Octavian August ruling. Later, it became the capitol of the province of Dardania. 518 the town was destroyed by an earthquake. So, the beautiful town of remarkable objects, temples, spas and a marvelous amphitheater was completely ruined.
Soon after that, the new town was built, at the territory around the “Upper Town” (the Kale).
In the bastion of Tauresium (today’s village Taor), the great Byzantium emperor Justinian was born. Many residences, palaces, streets, squares, spas, fountains and galleries were built in his honor. This is the origin of the assumption that the mystical city of Justiniana Prima, founded 565, was in fact located on the territory of today’s Skopje. (by the way, Justiniana Prima was the very first archeopiscopy on the territory of the Balkans, even before the Ohrid one).
Soon after the death of Justinian 1, these regions are inhabited by the Slavs, who stayed here forever.
In the year of 694/5 the Slavic tribe Berziti (Brsjaci) conquered the city and gave the name Skopje.
Towards the end of the 10th century, the first Macedonian state of the Tsar Samoil was founded and the empire stretched over the majority of the Balkans. In the period of the Macedonian kingdom, the Ohrid archiepiscopy was established, which played a significant role in keeping the identity of the Macedonian people, up until 1767 when it was abolished.
January 19th 1392 the city of Skopje was conquered by Gazi Evrenos-beg (Greek by origin) and he was the first commander during the Ottoman Empire.
Skopje became Uskup.
After defeating the Turkish Army near Vienna, the Austrian feld-marshal, Count Giovanni Piccolomini captured Skopje on October 25th 1689. He wrote: “Skopje streches over a large area and is only a little smaller than Vienna and Prague….”
At the time, cholera was devastating the city and Piccolomini decided to set Skopje on fire: “I have decided, even though it is not easy, to turn the city in ashes. I am sorry for these houses like I haven’t seen before…”
October 24th 1912, finally the Turkish Army left Skopje. However, the two Balkan wars followed and they changed the map of Balkan permanently. The Bucharest Piece treaty did not bring freedom for Macedonia, since one occupation was replaced with other four.
After the World Wars, Skopje was finally celebrating freedom on November 13th 1944. And began its development.
1963 it was struck by a disastrous earthquake (9 degrees by the Mercali scale)…
Since then, the city has changed a lot. Nowadays it is being constantly improved.
Oh, and the TITLE... are actually Piccolomini's words!
Ok, so let's go...
An important one...
"Zhivej go Skopje" (Experience Skopje)
- Pros:the people, the food, the churches and mosques
- Cons:ouch! not clean anough, chaotic traffic and... ask me for the rest
- In a nutshell:the SPIRIT kind of compensates the lack of material beauty
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