Skopje – Balkans’ Las Vegas, a city of kitsch or something else?

Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia, has many nicknames. Starting as a City of earthquakes, because if we look back through the centuries every 500 years some strong earthquake has destroyed the city. However, Skopje has been rebuilt each time.

The last terrible earthquake happened on 26 July 1963, when 80% of the city just disappeared in few minutes. As always, Skopje was rebuilt then. This time many countries helped in different ways. Because of that, we call Skopje the City of solidarity. The new plan of Skopje was drаwn by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, we can still see some of the buildings he created.

I have to say those buildings will not get your attention as much as all the new buildings built in the last years. It seems as if these new buildings are everywhere in the city, mostly concentrated in the center. As you are entering the city center you will see the old buildings looking like new now because of the “makeup” they’ve got recently. When you enter the square Macedonia, you will be welcomed by the huge fountain with the statue of Aleksander the Great on top of it.204 Don’t worry, this statue is just the beginning. When you look around you’ll see so many statues, new buildings, new bridges on the river decorated with more statues and fountains. Some of the buildings are not finished yet. To be honest, every time I go to Skopje I find something new, and I go there often.201In the middle of the square next to this fountain is another fountain that works only in summertime, water is coming out from the florin in different rhythm following the classical music. This is very refreshing in July and August when it’s over 40 C degrees (over 100F degrees) in the city. I don’t recommend you to visit the city in this period.203The Stone Bridge as the oldest building on the square (VI century) is connecting the two parts of the city. This bridge survived even the last earthquake, I’m not sure if the new bridges will survive something like that. Let’s hope we will never find out.15The fountain on the next photography is in the middle of one of the new bridges, the Bridge of Kings. It’s nice to walk on those bridges and you can make like 50 photos only on one bridge if you start shooting every statue. Probably that is  one of the reasons why most of the tourist like to see Skopje, you can make lot’s and lot’s of photos in one place and short time.
210Some good things came out with all this new building, like the Archeological Museum on the next photo, The Museum of Macedonian Struggle for Freedom,  the following. Next to it the Theather was rebuild also decorated with many statues, but in this case, I approve it, because even the first Theater that was standing there before the earthquake in 1963 was looking more or less the same.207What I don’t like this new look of the city is the different style of architecture in one place, as well as the enormous number of statues. It’s nice that the government wanted to make Skopje look like a metropolis again, but they should’ve stopped at certain point. Imagine all those money spent on bronze statues, fountains, buildings, bridges that the city didn’t need to be spent on other more useful things.206 Because of the mixture of styles of buildings many people call Skopje the City of Kitsch. Especially if you go out at night you will see why they also call it the Balkans’ Las  Vegas.211 It looks like I dedicate this post to the makeover of Skopje, but that’s not everything that Skopje is. It certainly takes the attention at first. It’s true we have a rich history, but we don’t have to have a statue of every person of it in one place. 202

Don’t get me wrong, Skopje is beautiful city to be visited. It’s definitely more than the makeover that we see on the surface and we shouldn’t forget that.

Skopje is not just the Center, if you find yourself there visit Skopje’s Old Bazaar, Monastery of St. PanteleimonMillennium Cross, Matka Canyon, Stobi archeological site, depending on your time of course.

And I know for sure that the tourists coming in Skopje, first are amazed of this new look, but the people they met, delicious food, surroundings, the spirit of the city, is what will remain in their memories.205

Skopje worths to be visited.

If you want to see more of the other face of Skopje visit my post Skopje’s Old Bazaar – a place to intrigue and inspire. Don’t miss to check out the post of my colleague blogger Kristina Unta from Croatia with amazing photographies and her impressions of Skopje.

Let me know if you have ever been in Skopje, no matter before or after this makeover, and share your impressions.

Thank you for reading.

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10 thoughts on “Skopje – Balkans’ Las Vegas, a city of kitsch or something else?

  1. I was in Skopje a month ago and I have to say I agree with everything you wrote.
    I liked the city especially the Old Bazaar and Matka and would like to come back again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I’ve made so many beautiful photos from Skopje. It’s true there are too many statues concentrated in small space.
    And if I ever go there again that will definitely not be in July, it was tooo hot per day.

    Liked by 1 person

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