The Republic of Macedonia is one of the new states formed in the second half of the 20th century. And the city of Skopje is the capital of the former Yugoslav republic.
A little about the city of Skopje
Skopje is the capital of the modern Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with a population of about 900 thousand people. The city itself was founded many centuries ago, in the days of ancient Rome, the city bore the consonant name of Scoopi and was the capital of a small province. Skopje has repeatedly changed its allegiance: Serbia, Byzantium, Turkey, until after World War II it became an important part of the Republic of Yugoslavia. And today we can say that it has become a modern center of culture and industrial development of the country.
In Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, factories of various industries have been built and work. The city is a major transport hub in the country, so you can easily get to any point in Macedonia, as well as quickly get to a neighboring country.
Where is the city of Skopje?
The resort of Skopje is located in the northern part of Macedonia, in a cozy mountain valley, the largest river of the state – Vardar flows through the city. Beyond the city, amazing mountain scenery awaits photographers. But the mountain slopes are not only tranquil beauty, but also a seismically active area. In 1963 a major earthquake occurred in the vicinity of Skopje that destroyed almost the entire city and as a result more than 1000 people died.
Weather in Skopje
As with many cities located in the intermountain, Skopje’s climate is determined by the terrain. Summers in the capital are hot, sunny and dry, the average daily temperature reaches +30 degrees, at night the air cools down to about +15 degrees. Winter here is cold and even foggy by local standards. Although the average daily temperatures are stable in the range -3 +8 degrees Celsius. The most tourist time to visit the capital of Macedonia is from May to September.
Sights of Skopje
Skopje has a long history of many ancient monuments and interesting buildings, but most of them were destroyed by a strong earthquake. It is interesting that the railway station is surviving, and its big clock stopped just at the first tremors. Today the building of the station is considered a monument to the victims of the earthquake.
But even now there is so much to see in Skopje. Of the surviving cultural heritage is the Stone Bridge, which connects the banks of Vardar and leads to the Museum of Macedonia for more than 500 years. It is now only pedestrian and is a symbol of the city. It is also worth visiting the Venetian fortress of Kale, which was erected on the banks of the river in the XI century. The fortress has a wonderful park, and the observation deck offers an excellent panorama of the city and its surroundings.
The era of Turkish rule has rewarded Skopje with elements of eastern architecture: the Kursumli Khan inn, where the State Museum of Archaeology is located, the Mustafa Pasha Mosque and some others. The most interesting building of Muslim culture is the Clock Tower of Saat Kula, the oldest in Macedonia and Turkey itself.
Of the Orthodox heritage, alas, only the Church of the Holy Savior and its main relic – the wooden iconostasis – are well preserved, as well as the largest monastery in Macedonia – the Monastery of St. Panteleimon on the territory of Plaoshnik. On the outskirts of Skopje you can visit the monastery of St. Andrew and Marko.
An interesting and beautiful attraction is the Millennium Cross – the highest cross in the world. It can be reached by cable car, and in the dark times it is illuminated at night – a beautiful sight.
Entertainment and Recreation in Skopje
Visiting museums, ancient ruins, temples and simply beautiful old buildings certainly takes a lot of time for all tourists who come to Skopje. The Art Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art may compete with the Macedonian National Theatre, the Drama Theatre, the Opera and Ballet Theatre and the Skopje Summer Theatre. Even in the summer there are interesting performances by its own cast, as well as by guest performers.
From active recreation we can offer many walks and excursions to the surrounding mountains, trips to the river Vardar and fishing, parachute jumps or a visit to the famous ski resort “Popova hat”. In addition, there are a sufficient number of night bars and discos in the city.
For recreation and entertainment, also worth mentioning is Canyon Lake Matka, which is located approximately 15 kilometers from Skopje. The lake is mountainous and beautiful. Many tourists tend to relax here, take part in local excursions, ride on catamarans and also go fishing.
Hotels in Skopje
The best hotels of the country are in the capital of Skopje. In Skopje you can find accommodation for your needs from five star luxury hotels to a modest room or even a bed.
The best and most beautiful hotels are located on the banks of Vardar River or near the historic center of Skopje. There are spacious comfortable rooms with air conditioning, satellite TV, large bathrooms and many other amenities. Such hotels have tennis courts, fitness centers, spas, saunas, swimming pools, conference halls. But the prices can often be unreasonably high.
If you are looking for a vacation a little cheaper, pay attention to family hotels and private pensions. Here the cost of living will be 2-3 times lower. Naturally, the closer to the outskirts of the city, the lower the price per room will be. You can also try to save money and stay in a hostel, private sector or a campsite outside the city if you have a car.
Cafes and restaurants in Skopje
Where else can you get to know and taste all the delights of Macedonian cuisine than in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. In fact, it is a mixture of flavors from all the neighbors, where, at times, the Turkish motifs stand out. Macedonians are particularly fond of fish, meat and vegetables, bryndza and herbs.
Many large restaurants, some in the usual daily format, some as a highlight of the evening, offer visitors to take part in the preparation of the dish. The entire culinary production takes place around an oven, which is set up in the center of the room. The dishes that are on the menu of each establishment are “Pastrmka”, “Tavche Gravche”, “Ayvar” and others, usually from the drinks you will be offered “Rakija” or other wines from the list.
A wide range of meat dishes, including kebabs and excellent shashlik can be tasted at Destan restaurant, which is located in the center of the city. All eastern masterpieces and a palette of subtle spices can be tasted at the Pelister restaurant. If you are an ardent fan of Italian cuisine, you should go straight to Gusto restaurant.
As already mentioned, Skopje is a big transport hub of the country. The city roads and road transport are quite well developed. Transport both within the city and with the outskirts is done by buses.
In the streets of Skopje it is often possible to meet already rare and old transport from times of the USSR. But different routes around the city runs about 80. You can buy tickets and passes for any trip in advance, as a rule, in kiosks. If you are in a hurry, you can also pay for the passage from the driver, but at a slightly higher price. Cabs or rental cars are not available to everyone, Macedonians have not yet reached their peak of development and often save on comfort.
Near the capital Skopje is one of Macedonia’s international airports, named after Alexander the Great. Here take all international flights from any European country and not only.
How to reach Skopje?
The easiest and fastest option is, of course, by air. But there are no direct flights from Russia, as well as from most countries of the former Soviet Union. The most convenient options are connecting flights in Belgorod or Vienna.
More economical to get to the city of Salonniki, and then travel by train to the capital of Macedonia. From neighboring and neighboring countries (Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Albania) are well developed bus service to Skopje. But many autotravelers traveling through Eastern Europe by car. In this case, remember that each country has its own specific rules of the road.
Good to know for tourists
Every tourist coming to Macedonia, and especially to its capital Skopje, should remember that it is not approved to talk about the politics of the country and the reasons for the collapse of the Republic of Yugoslavia. Especially when these topics are discussed by visiting travelers.
Locals are very sociable and have no problem helping you take photos or videos and won’t even refuse to pose for you, but you must have special permission to shoot or display government organizations or facilities.
Skopje (North Macedonia) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Skopje with descriptions, guides and maps.
City of Skopje (Northern Macedonia)
Skopje is the capital of Northern Macedonia and the largest city of this country. It has a rich and ancient history, during which it has been influenced by several cultures. Therefore, in Skopje you can find landmarks from various historical periods: from Roman ruins and Byzantine churches to Ottoman mosques and ancient houses. The capital of Northern Macedonia is a fascinating city that offers the tourist a variety of architecture and gastronomy.
Things to do (Skopje):
€115 per excursion
Where does the cable car take you?
Enjoy the panorama of Skopje from the funicular, walk through the canyon and see the mountain lake
€220 per excursion
Trip to Mavrovo National Park
Getting to know the stunning landscapes, flora and fauna of Macedonia
Geography and Climate
Skopje is located in the north of the country in the center of the Balkan Peninsula, halfway between Belgrade and Athens. The city is located in the valley of the Vardar River (the largest river in northern Macedonia, flowing into the Aegean Sea). Skopje lies at an altitude of approximately 245 meters above sea level and is surrounded by mountain ranges that protect it from strong winds. The climate of the city is subtropical (sub-mediterranean). Summers in Skopje are hot and dry, and winters are mild with frequent fogs.
- The population is 510 thousand people.
- Area – 571,5 km².
- The language is Macedonian and Albanian.
- Currency is the Macedonian denar.
- Time – UTC +1, in summer +2.
- The government of Northern Macedonia annually issues a decree on the abolition of tourist visas for Russians. At the moment, the period of visa-free stay in the country is 90 days.
The best time to visit
The most comfortable time to visit is late spring or the first half of fall. In summer, Skopje is quite hot. Although if the heat doesn’t scare you, this period is also great for a visit to the capital of Northern Macedonia.
The area around Skopje was inhabited in ancient times. In the 3rd century BC, the area was invaded by the Dardans. Skopje is first mentioned in Roman sources in the 1st century AD, when the Roman military camp Flavia Aelia Scupi or simply Scupi was founded here. Throughout the Roman period, Scupi was an important fortress and center of the surrounding lands. In the 3rd century A.D. the Roman settlement was devastated by the Goths, and two centuries later by the Huns. In 518, Skopje was completely destroyed by an earthquake.
Being in the zone of high seismic activity, Skopje has suffered many strong earthquakes during its history. The last one was in 1963, destroying most of the city.
Skopje was rebuilt in the 6th century during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. In the 6th century the settlement was taken over by the Slavic tribe of the Brsats. Skopje was then for a time the capital of the Bulgarian kingdom, and afterwards was part of Byzantium and Serbia.
Ottoman Mosque in Skopje
In the 14th century Skopje was captured by the Ottomans, who named the city Uskub. At the end of the 17th century, the future capital of Northern Macedonia was occupied by the Austrians, but due to a cholera epidemic that raged, an Austrian general decided to burn the city down. Skopje began to grow and develop rapidly in the 19th century. In 1913, the city was occupied by the Serbian army and it became part of the Kingdom of Serbia and later the State of Yugoslavia. Since 1991, Skopje has been the capital of independent Macedonia.
How to get there
The capital of Northern Macedonia has an international airport with the following destinations: Barcelona, Athens, Ljubljana, Vienna, Hamburg, Sofia, Zagreb, Milan, Bratislava, Venice, Dusseldorf, Zurich, Istanbul, Paris, Cologne, Basel, London, Oslo, Stockholm and Nuremberg. Between the airport and the city center runs a bus – Vardar Express.
The streets of Skopje
By train you can reach Skopje from cities in Serbia and Greece. By bus from: Belgrade, Sofia, Istanbul, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Tirana and other cities.
The Old Bazaar is Skopje’s largest shopping district (despite the fact that some parts of it have been destroyed or rebuilt during modern city planning). It is considered the largest bazaar in the Balkan Peninsula and one of the oldest Ottoman markets in the region. It is a very lively area with an oriental flavor that will not be to everyone’s taste.
Bit Pazar is Skopje’s largest green market, located just behind the old bazaar. Here you can buy inexpensive fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, tea, spices.
The largest shopping centers in Skopje are GTC and City Mall.
Skopje is famous for its bakeries and eateries, where you can eat tasty and inexpensive. In Macedonia, we recommend trying the famous puff pastry burek with various fillings, as well as: tavche gravche (fried beans), kebali (fried sausages), pleskavica (cutlets), moussaka (eggplant), sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls).
Macedonia Square is the central square of Skopje. Its main symbol is a statue of a warrior on horseback and a fountain. It is believed that the equestrian sculpture depicts Alexander of Macedonia, although it is not named after him. The statue was made in Florence and is mounted on a powerful 10-meter column.
Kale is Skopje’s main landmark, towering on the highest hill above the city. This fortress was founded in the 6th century by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, who was born in a village nearby. Most of the walls and structures that can be seen in Calais now date from the Ottoman period. The strong square tower was built in the 10th century and the round tower in the 13th century. The fortress once had 70 towers, but only three have survived. The small gate, on the side of the old bazaar, is the only surviving entrance. They were built in 1446.
Carsija is a real Ottoman town in Skopje with charming, winding streets and old Ottoman architecture.
The Stone Bridge was built in the 6th century by Justinian and is one of the main symbols of the capital of Northern Macedonia. The bridge has 13 arches and is 214 meters long. This structure was significantly rebuilt by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in the 15th century.
Port of Macedonia
Porta Macedonia is an imposing triumphal arch built to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the country’s independence and decorated with marble bas-reliefs depicting national historical events.
The feudal tower was built by the Ottomans and probably had defensive functions. The exact date of its construction is unknown.
The Clock Tower
The Clock Tower is one of the first similar structures in the Ottoman Empire. It was built in the 16th century in the old bazaar so that the Muslims would not miss their prayer time. The original clock was brought from Szeged in Hungary.
Aqueduct is an ancient hydraulic structure located at the exit of Skopje. It was most likely built during the Byzantine period. The aqueduct was used to bring water into the city until the 18th century. There are 55 arches left standing.
Mustafa Pasha Mosque
The Mustafa Pasha Mosque is one of the most beautiful Islamic buildings in Macedonia, located near the old bazaar. The mosque was built in the late 15th century.
Sultan Murat Mosque
Sultan Murat Mosque is the largest mosque on the Balkan Peninsula, built in the 16th century with donations from the Ottoman ruler of the same name. This structure has the form of a basilica with three naves, which is explained quite simply – the mosque was built on the foundations of an ancient Christian monastery.
Isa Bey Mosque
The Isa Bey Mosque is a beautiful small mosque (with a once richly decorated facade) built in the 15th century with money from an Ottoman general.
Isa Bey Mosque
The Isa Bey Mosque is the only Seljuk mosque in Europe, built in 1475.
Church of the Holy Savior
The Church of the Holy Savior is a small church with a cozy courtyard, built in the 19th century. Here is the tomb of the national Macedonian hero Gotse Delchev. Interestingly, the church on this site was first built back in the 14th century. The Ottomans forbade the construction of churches above mosques, so the foundation of Christian structures as if “sunk” into the ground.
Church of St. Demetrius
St. Demetrius Church is a three-nave religious edifice built in the 19th century. The church is located near the stone bridge.
Church of St. Clement
The Church of St. Clement is a modern religious building, construction of which began in the 70s of the 20th century. The dome of the church is decorated with beautiful frescoes.
€50 per tour
Welcome to Skopje!
See the capital of Northern Macedonia as a shining example of the cultural mixing of East and West