The city of SKopje

History of the City of Skopje

The city of Skopje has its origin back in the old Roman Empire, when under the name of Skupi it was located on the left bank of the Vardar River.

The expansion of Skopje started in 13-11 A.D. from a colony of legionaries under the rule of Octavian Augustus. The city became a capital of the province Dardania until it was demolished by the devastating earthquake in 518. A new city was built afterwards, mainly on the territory of today’s Skopje. During the Byzantium period this city was called Justiniana Prima, bearing the name of the then emperor Justinian I born in the vicinity of Skopje.

In the 14th century Skopje became the second emperor’s metropolis of the Serbian Tzar Dushan. In that period the city was not only a political centre; it had a paramount cultural importance and had risen to become a trading and economic centre.

In 1689, Skopje was demolished by a fire set by the Austrian General Piccolomini. After WW1 Skopje became the main economic centre of Moravia and Vardar area.

Until the beginning of the 20th century the city spread along the Vardar and the Serava Rivers. After the Railway Station was constructed on the right bank of the Vardar River, the city of Skopje expanded and gradually developed into a modern European town. The Stone Bridge over the Vardar River is a symbol of the city and it connects the old and new part of Skopje. 

In 1963, Skopje was hit and completely demolished by a devastating earthquake. However, the solidarity of other countries helped rebuild Skopje, which until present times exists as a multi-ethnic, multicultural and modern capital of the state. The large clock on the half-destroyed wall of the old railway station, now Museum of the City of Skopje, bears witness to the earthquake.

City Square “Makedonija”

It is located near the Stone Bridge, as the fundamental connection of the two city halves, on the right and left bank of the Vardar River. It is exactly at this square, at the heart of Skopje, that the birth house of one of the most important persons of 20th century, the great humanitarian and missionary, Mother Teresa, was located.

However, Skopje is a city that resembles the mythical bird phoenix; it died and was reborn from the ashes and rose to the unknown, to the future.

Significant cultural and historical locations in Skopje:

  • Stone Bridge, on the Vardar River, is a symbol of Skopje. It was reconstructed in the 15th century and since it is located in the central part of the city, it is a connection between the new and old part of the city;
  • Skopje Fortress – commonly referred as the Kale. The first walls were constructed on the same place, in the early 6th The Fortress dominates over the left bank of the Vardar River and it provides a panoramic view over the old part of Skopje;
  • The Orthodox Church “Saint Saviour” (Sv. Spas) located in the old part of the city was built in the 19th The iconostasis includes marvellous wooden frescoes made by the skilful wood carvers from the Mijak region – Petre and Marko Filipovski and Makarie Frchkovski. The yard of the church is a home to the tomb of the greatest revolutionary of the country of the 20th century – Goce Delchev;
  • Old Skopje Bazaar – encompasses some old crafts, bedestan (covered market), Chifte Hammam and other objects;
  • Mustafa Pasha Mosque – built in 1492; one of the most beautiful buildings of the Ottoman period in Skopje;
  • Yahya Pasha Mosque – in the vicinity of the Skopje city centre;
  • Daut Pasha Hammam – constructed in the 15th century as a public bath. Located at the entrance of the Old Skopje Bazaar; in 1948 it was repurposed for an art gallery;
  • The Feudal Tower (Bey Tower) near the House of the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia;
  • Clock Tower in the vicinity of Sultan Murat Mosque;
  • Church of St. Clement of Ohrid; located in the centre of the city on the right bank of the Vardar River. The Church was consecrated in 1990;
  • Kurshumli An (Kurshumli Han) dates back to the 16th century and is located in the Old Bazaar. It is one of the most beautiful localities in Skopje. In the past, the Kurshumli An was a public bath used by the greater part of the population;
  • Old Railway Station, completed in 1940/41. In its times it was one of the most modern railway stations in the Balkans. The clock on the front side of the walls stopped at 5:17 a.m. – the moment when Skopje was hit by a devastating earthquake. Now the building hosts the Museum of the City of Skopje;
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art is located within the Skopje Fortress;
  • The Museum of Macedonian Struggle is located on the left bank of the Vardar River, officially opened on 8 September 2011, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the independence of the country;
  • The Millennium Cross is on the top of the Vodno Mountain, in the near vicinity of the city; the cross is made of steel, 67 meters high and diameter of the arms of 46 meters. It was raised on the 2000th years anniversary of the birth of Christianity;
  • The Monastery Church “St. Pantaleimon” in Upper Nerezi (Gorno Nerezi) was founded and painted in 1164; the fresco paintings, in their quality, are among the top achievements of the Byzantine painting in the time of the Komneni Dynasty;
  • The place of the birth house of the well-known world humanitarian Mother Teresa is near the Skopje City Central Square (“Makedonija”);
  • In the vicinity of the city of Skopje, near the road Skopje-Kachanik, an old aqueduct is found; it is constructed of stone and bricks with 55 arches supported by massive pillars. It is considered to have been built during the time of the Roman Empire or Byzantium, under the rule of Justinian I, 527-554; therefore, the aqueduct is also called the Aqueduct of Justinian;
  • The Feudal Tower, which at present is a museum, is found at the Skopje City main pedestrian street in the downtown area;
  • “Gradski Zid” is a chain of related blocks of flats with a height of 24 meters and towers with a height of 45 meters; it forms a fortress in the modern interpretation; it was constructed after the 1963 earthquake and was designed by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange; this wall formed by blocks of flats encircles the centre of the city on the right bank of the Vardar River; Kenzo Tange designed other buildings. However, some of them have never been built.

Skopje