Skopje stands out as one of the coolest places I’ve visited. Located in the north of the Republic of North Macedonia, Skopje is known as “The City of Statues”. Approximately 80% of Skopje was destroyed in an earthquake in 1963 and has been rebuilt. The architecture is amazing, people are very friendly and there are bridges and more than a 100 statues of military heroes, politicians, literary and religious figures.
I was most fascinated with the bridges and my favourite statue was at the Macedonian National Theatre.
Upon arrival in Skopje, my room at the Stonebridge Hotel was ready when I got there at 9:00 AM and they brought me up a fruit tray. I arrived so early because of a little misadventure on the way. I truly appreciate when I arrive early and my room is ready AND I’m allowed in right away. I headed out to start exploring Skopje and enjoyed every moment. There was a vibe to the city that I loved. Yes, a lot of buildings and statues were newly rebuilt, but still fascinating to see.
The Macedonia Square is in central Skopje and the main square.
The Warrior On A Horse Statue
This statue and fountain depicts Alexander The Great on a horse surrounded by 8 bronze soldiers and 8 bronze lions. It plays music, lights up in the evenings and is a symbol of national pride.
Philip II Square
The Philip II Square (the Rebellion Square renamed) is across the river from the Maceondian Square and is the entrance into the Old Bazaar.
The Warrior Statue
The Warrior Statue is near the Stone Bridge in Philip II Square.
Fountain of the Mothers of Macedonia
Located close to the Warrior Statue, this fountain is dedicated to Macedonian mothers. I liked this fountain showing the different stages we go through – being pregnant, nursing, holding the toddler and then the older boy. For me, missing is the young men our little boys become.
Old Stone Bridge
Built between 1451 and 1469, the Old Stone Bridge crosses the Vardar River. The Old Stone Bridge connects the Macedonia Square and Philip II Square. The bridge is a symbol of Skopje and is part of the coat of arms and the city flag. Executions used to take place on this bridge. Great views from both directions and I walked back and forth many times.
Kale Fortress (Skopje Fortress)
Located on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River, Kale Fortress was first built in the 6th century. It is being excavated and hopefully restored. In May 2010, archeologists unearthed the largest stash of Byzantine coins ever found in Macedonia at the fortress. Kale is the Turkish word for fortress.
I like this picture I got peeking through the notch on the battlement wall.
Finished in 2012, Porta Macedonia is an Arch of Triumph that commemorates 20 years of independence in Macedonia. The outer surface depicts scenes from the country’s history.
A pedistrian bridge, the Art Bridge has 29 statues of artistic figures such as artists and writers and composers.
Petre Prličko (1907-1995) was a Macedonian dramatic actor and considered a “legend of Macedonian theatre”. He is one of the statues on the Art Bridge.
The Bridge of Civilizations
Another pedestrian bridge, the Bridge of Civilizations connects Macedonia Square and Old Town. The Bridge of Civilizations has 28 statues of significant figures in Macedonian history such as kings, warriors and priests. The Archaeology Museum is located at one end of the bridge.
Macedonian National Theatre
Founded in 1945, the Macedonian National Theatre’s original building was destroyed in the 1963 earthquake and was rebuilt retaining the original look. The theatre has a repertoire from Shakespeare to local playwrights. The statues surrounding the theatre are fabulous!
My favourite statue – I love that his hand is on her bum!
Holocaust Memorial Centre
This memorial is for the 7,148 Jewish people from Macedonia.
I took so many pictures in Skopje! If you have the opportunity, check out this fascinating city!
I found a little restaurant that I went to every night. Kolektiv is in Macedonian Square and features craft beer and live music. The bartender played The Ramones for me a number of times and it was a great spot to end a day of sightseeing and relax with good food and good wine.
I loved this place!
Getting To Skopje and My Detour to Kumanovo
How did I arrive at my hotel at 9:00 AM? It was a roundabout way. I took a train from Thessaloniki, Greece to Skopje, Macedonia. It was an older train and one that always reminds me of Terror Train (the 80’s movie). The toilet on this particular train was horrendous. I did have a little bit of fun and hung my head out the window.
I can’t remember what I was reading, but I was engrossed in my Kindle and I missed my stop. I didn’t get off the train when it stopped. Total blonde moment because I even said goodbye to the folks I was chatting with earlier. Off the train went and a little while later the conductor came by and indicated he wanted to see my ticket. I showed him my global pass and then pulled up Skopje on my map and pointed. We didn’t speak the same language, but I clued in that I missed my stop. It was after supper and dark at this point and I got off the train at the next stop, Kumanovo. The stop was just a building and the attendant was there with a flashlight and the conductor spoke to him. There were no taxi’s. The attendant indicated to go across the road to the hotel that was there. Off I went.
There were two gentlemen in the hotel lobby and there was a room available for me. I sat down and told them my story and they poured me a really big glass of Macedonian Red. My kind of place. The next train back to Skopje was around 4 o’clock the next day, but they made arrangements for me to get a ride in the morning for 2 Euro.
I was up bright and early and got my first daytime glimpse of Kumanovo. The gentleman from the previous evening drove me into town to catch my ride and I was on my way back to Skopje.
The helpfulness and kindness of everyone involved in my misadventure was extraordinary – the conductor, the train station attendant and the two gentlemen at the Hotel Lav. As I always say, the highlight of travelling is the people you meet. I wonder sometimes if they tell the story of the Canadian woman who missed her train stop and liked her wine filled to the rim.
Happy Travels 💕
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