The capital of the Republic of North Macedonia
THE STORY OF Skopje
In a Few Words
Skopje is a city that never stops breathing in the urban, modern, traditional and cultural rhythm. It is a lively destination that offers a variety of activities for all types of tourists, satisfying anyone’s personal taste and style.
The North Macedonian experience discovered through the magic of Skopje is something you will take with you and talk about for years ahead.
A city so diverse, vibrant and spectacularly entertaining, offering to travelers and citizens alike, a place where culture, tradition and contemporary come together in a perfect, remarkable blend.
Whether it is a budget-friendly accommodation or a luxury five-star hotel, family friendly hotels or traditional Skopje hideaways, it is comfortable for all preferences and budgets.
It is an ever-expanding cultural kaleidoscope. Skopje embraces all, the urban dynamic life with a touch of nature, the mix of old and new, the cultural heritage and engaging tradition.
Food & Drink
Delve into the exciting food scene as you let your stomach lead you to the best restaurants, pastry shops and fast food joints in Skopje.
Skopje is the capital of the Republic of North Macedonia, a city that lies in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, at the crossroad of important communications, a city with a 2000 years old tradition.
Skopje is a modern city with population of almost one million and presents North Macedonia’s major political, economical, educational and cultural center. It continues to be a focus for new residents, economic development, construction and refurbishment.
Skopje’s urban area extends across the Skopje valley for approximately 30 kilometers (18.75 mi) in width and comprises 10 municipalities.
Municipality of Centar
The Municipality of Centar is the core of Skopje, the main business center in the Republic of North Macedonia, therefore, the residents themselves are calling it “The heart of Skopje”. The Municipality of Centar is the country seat of many institutions and buildings that have architectural, historical, administrative, cultural, political, educational and commercial character. The Municipality of Centar covers an area of 8km2 with a total number of 45.362 inhabitants. Municipality of Centar consists of several neighborhoods and many consider “Debar Maalo” as the most attractive neighborhood, because most of the catering services that reflect the socio-cultural values and habits of the citizens of Skopje are concentrated here. The most important sights in Municipality of Center are the City Park, the Fortress Kale, the quayside on river Vardar and large number of museums. Another attractive place for tourists is Macedonia Square (main public square) in the city center, because there are many restaurants and cafes, as well as a large number of monuments and landmarks. There are street handcrafters on the square selling souvenirs, jewelry, food and other traditional Macedonian products. Very often there are cultural and artistic events happening in the city center as well as in the City Park, that are attracting many visitors and passersby. The quay of the river Vardar stretches from the Municipality of Karposh, most of it passes through the Municipality of Center and ends in the Municipality of Aerodrom. Along the quay there are pedestrian and bicycle paths where citizens and visitors have the opportunity for faster transport of the aforementioned municipalities by alternative transportation (bicycle, electric scooters, rollerblades, etc.). On the quay of the river Vardar, beside the playgrounds for various recreational and professional sports there are several significant sights such as the Fortress Kale, the Stone Bridge and small part of the Skopje Old Bazaar. That is why the Municipality of Center is unique in its beauty, it’s that part of Skopje that can unite different generations and cultures, and enhance the experience of citizens and visitors in the city.
Municipality of Karposh
The Municipality of Karposh gets its name after two important persons from the Macedonian history. One of them is Petar Karposh – Duke, who was the leader of the Karposh Uprising and fought against Ottoman slavery in 1689. The second person was Hristijan Todorovski – Karposh, a national hero of the National Liberation War and a legendary partisan commander, who fought against the fascists. The Municipality of Karposh can’t be associated only with these two important people, because the name “Karposh” is associated with the unity and perseverance of the Macedonian people for their own state and their own national identity. The Municipality covers an area of 35km2 and it has 60.725 inhabitants. There are several shopping centers in the municipality. The most enticing is the Skopje City Mall, and it is visited by many tourists. The most attractive locations for cultural and social life are TC Leptokaria, and the park near the center where many of the local cafes and restaurants offer excellent service and delicious food. In the evening, in some of the bars and restaurants, you can enjoy live music which contributes to the quality and enjoyment of the nightlife. Another important site to visit in the Municipality of Karposh is the Monastery “St. Panteleimon” built in 1164, it is located in the village of Gorno Nerezi. At the foothill of Zajchev Rid, on the left side of the river Vardar, near the settlement Zlokukjani, is the ancient city of Skupi, the ancient ancestor of today’s Skopje. Skupi was founded by the Roman legionaries. At the beginning, on this territory there was a settlement camp, which housed the 5th Macedonian and the 4th Scythian legions, and served as a starting base for the conquest of Dardania. The materials and objects found show the different social status of the citizens of Skupi, its cultural and economic features. The Zoo in Skopje is located in the Municipality of Kaprosh, and it plays an important role in the educational, cultural and recreational life, not only for the citizens of Skopje but also for the visitors. Within the Zoo there is a workshop, veterinary clinic, an amusement park for children, dino park and educational center. The zoo is one of the most visited institutions in the country. In the complex of the Zoo there is a Natural Science Museum, which will additionally delight you and introduce you to the samples of flora and fauna that can be found on the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia. At the very entrance of the complex, on the building of Natural History Museim is placed the Universal Vertical sundial. It can read real physical time with an accuracy of plus or minus 15 minutes. The clock shows the basic points, lines, directions and planes of the celestial sphere as well as the spherical coordinate systems for the needs of astronomical observations and measurements. An interesting and attractive landmark in Municipality of Karposh is the Aqueduct in Skopje. It is believed it dates from the ancient Roman Empire or the medieval period of the Empire, in the time of Justinian I, from 527-554 AC. The rural part of the Municipality of Karposh includes a large part of the slopes of Mount Vodno, including the Millennium Cross which symbolically marks the jubilee 2000 years of Christianity. The cross is located on the top of the mountain Vodno (1,066 meters above sea level), just above the city of Skopje.
Municipality of Aerodrom
Municipality of Aerodrom was named after the military airport, which used to be located at today’s polyclinic “Jane Sandanski” and “Goce Delcev” military barracks. This military airport was bombed by Nazi forces in April 1941, during World War II. The first passenger jet landed in Skopje on June 15th, 1928. The airplane was a “Potez-29” model and it was transporting 5 passengers. In 1929, the Thessaloniki-Skopje-Belgrade airplane line was established. The departure timetable was scheduled in such a way that it saved the time of the passengers and merchants from Thessalonica. The airplanes departed from Skopje at 7 a.m. Municipality of Aerodrom is one of the most populous municipalities in Skopje with a total number of 72,009 inhabitants, and an area of 20km2. This municipality is considered as one of the most urban municipalities in the country, and also the greenest municipality with a large area of greenery, trees and modern parks, where the citizens can relax and do recreational activities. One of the parks is called “Avionche” (Airplane) after the airport that was once located in the municipality. There are three shopping malls in the municipality: Biser, Capitol Mall and Lisa. Shopping malls are modern and built in the last 20 years. These shopping centers attract large number of citizens from other Skopje municipalities, but are equally attractive to tourists. Beside the shopping, a large part of the cultural and social life in Municipality of Aerodrom takes place in these centers.
Municipality of Gjorche Petrov
Back in the days, the name of the municipality was “Hanrievo“, named after the French general Hanris from the World War I. The history of the municipality dates since the first World War, as a suburb of the capital Skopje that was reachable only by the famous mini train “Pampurche“, and till today you can find the exhibit of the mini train in a park located in the municipality. The municipality covers an area of 66.93km2 and it has 41.634 inhabitants. Municipality of Gjorche Petrov has urban and rural part widespread among several suburbs: Grachani, Kuchkovo, Nikishtane, Orman, Volkovo and Novo Selo. The most famous and the oldest monastery in the municipality is the monastery of “St. Georgij Pobedonosec”. The most beautiful sight in the monastery is the fresco paintings on the walls. In the village of Kuchkovo there is a church “St. Spas-Voznesenie Hristovo“ built around middle of the 17th and 18th century, but it’s restored after the Balkan wars in 1912/13. Above the village, the cross of Kuchkovo is located with a wonderful view of the city and Skopje’s valley. The cross is a gathering spot, a venue place where most of the municipality’s events and happenings are taking place.
Мunicipality of Saraj
The municipality gets its name by the largest inhabited place that has the same name – Saraj, that dates since the Ottoman Empire, more than 200 years ago. The Municipality of Saraj is the largest territorial municipality in Skopje, with an area of 241 km2 and 39.884 inhabitants. In Municipality of Saraj the citizens are mostly Albanian ethnicity, but there are also Macedonians, Bosniaks, Turks, Romani etc. Biggest attraction in Saraj Municipality is Canyon Matka with Lake Matka and river Treska, stretched on area of 5000 hectares. Alongside the breathtaking nature, Canyon Matka is enriched with lot of middle-age constructions like Mosques, Churches, Monasteries, and ruins of fortresses from the middle-aged city of Matka. There are more than ten caves in the canyon and the most beautiful ones are Vrelo, Krshtalna and Ubava. Most interesting and unique is the underwater cave Vrelo, so far visited by several international speleo-diving expeditions. In 2017, the Polish diver Krzysztof Starnawski, dived to a depth of 240 meters with the discovery of new chambers and tunnels. The cave has not yet been fully explored and the true depth has not been revealed, it is believed that it is the deepest cave in Europe, and possibly on the planet. In Canyon Matka exist around 77 kinds of butterflies and 18 are rare and unknown to researchers.
Municipality of Chair
One of the explanations about the name “Chair” comes from a Turkish word “çair”that means “valley full of trees”, and other explanation comes from the name of a man that once lived on this location, and his name was “Kadin Chair“, his name is also mentioned in the documents from 1549/50. Municipality of Chair was inhibited in the Neolithic and this fact is testified by many archaeological sites and artifacts such as “the goddess of youth” that was found in Chair’s suburb Dizhonska. The Municipality of Chair is the smallest and most densely populated municipality in Skopje with an area of 3,25 km2 and 64.773 inhabitants. The most famous attraction of the municipality of Chair is the Old Bazaar which represents one of the most unique cultural sights of the city. Old Bazaar starts from the famous Stone Bridge and stretches up to Bit-Pazar, and from the Fortress Kale to River Serava. In the old bazaar you are more likely to see Ottoman architecture and ruins of the byzantine area. There are several Turkish hamams that were used by travelers for overnight stays. Today hammams are transformed into halls and galleries for cultural and artistic events.
Municipality of Shuto Orizari
The name Shuto Orizari comes from the word “shuto” which means barren and from the word “orizar” – the Macedonian word for paddy field The Municipality of Shuto Orizari, often shortened as “Shutka”, is the first municipality in the world with a majority of Romani population. For much of its history, Shuto Orizari was a small village in the country, as were neighbouring Butel and Vizbegovo. It is only after the 1963 Skopje earthquake that the area became urbanised. The municipality was developed in late 1963 and early 1964, with the settlement of the first inhabitants, mostly Romani. Shuto Orizari is located to the north of central Skopje, at approximately 5 km of Macedonia Square and it is the second smallest municipality of Skopje behind Chair and the least populated. The size of its area is 7.48km2 and the number of inhabitants is 22.017. With the gradual shaping of the settlement, the Municipality of Shuto Orizari begins to get the appearance of an urbanized suburban neighborhood. Over time, the settlement acquires its own administrative and cultural institutions. The municipality is characterized by a lively atmosphere, and in several parts of the neighborhood you can often see street markets and bazaars where you can buy clothes at low prices.
Municipality of Kisela Voda
The story about the name Kisela Voda (which means mineral water in Macedonian language) goes back to the end of the 18th century. On the east side of today’s municipality of Kisela Voda, springs of mineral water were discovered. Later on, the inhabitants built three fountains to regulate the springs and that’s how the municipality got its name. The municipality of Kisela Voda is located in the southern and south-eastern part of the Skopje valley. It covers an area of 46.86km2 and it has 58.216 inhabitants. In a very short period of time, the Municipality of Kisela Voda brought great prosperity to its overall development. On the territory of the municipality there are several churches, archeological sites, old medieval monuments and part of the spiritual culture of North Macedonia. In the area called “Tri Krushi” (three pears) a tomb was discovered dating back from the time of the Roman Empire. This tomb is a historical site of great importance, it is a venue where the locals traditionally organize the cultural summer festival of the municipality. The event usually hosts domestic and foreign cultural and artistic ensembles, renowned pop artists and musicians.
Municipality of Gazi Baba
The municipality gets its name from the famous Ottoman poet Ashik Celebi – Gazi Baba who lived in the period of the 14th century. Municipality of Gazi Baba is located in the eastern part of the Skopje valley and the city of Skopje. The size of its area is 92 km2 and the population is 72.222 inhabitants. A large part of that territory belongs to the rural region of the municipality. Artefacts and ruins from different eras are found in the area where the municipality extends with its geographical and strategic features. One of the most important archeological sites in the municipality is “Tumba Madzari”. The discovery of this archeological site from the Young Stone Age (Neolithic) indicates that people have inhabited this area since the beginning of humanity. From the findings discovered in the settlement, the most authentic and unique are the ceramic models of houses shaped in the form of a woman figure called “Goddess,The Great Mother”. This artifact is of such cultural and historical interest. It has become part of the modern identity, and symbols of the Municipality of Gazi Baba. Very attractive sight in this municipality is the natural park and forest Gazi Baba. Spread on an area of 108ha and only 3 kilometres from the city centre, with many walking trails, viewpoints, benches and tables for recreation the Gazi Baba Park is closely related to the formation and development of the city of Skopje which has a long history starting from the period before the new era till today.
Municipality of Butel
The name Butel comes from the Old Slavic language, according to Blaze Koneski (a famous Macedonian poet and writer) who studied the origin of the name, the meaning of the name Butel represents home or dwelling. Territorially, the Municipality of Butel is one of the largest municipalities in the city of Skopje. The municipality covers an area of 54,71 km2 and it has 36.184 inhabitants. A large part of the territory of the municipality is rural. It is located along the north-central and north-eastern areas of Skopje, not far from the modern city center and most of the municipality extends eastward toward Skopska Crna Gora mountain range. The municipality includes four villages: Ljubanci, Vizbegovo, Radishani and Ljuboten and four urban settlements: Butel I, Butel II, Radishani and Ljubotenski Pat. Very often, the citizens of Skopje are visiting the mountain Skopska Crna Gora for recreational outdoor activities. With the recent activities undertaken for the development of active vacation and adventure tourism, Mt.Skopska Crna Gora is slowly but surely becoming attractive for tourists who enjoy mountain biking and hiking.
History and Culture
The city had changed its name four times throughout the centuries. It has been called Scupi (13 years B.C), Justinijana Prima (5th and 6th century), Skopje (7th century) and Ushkup (14th century).
To this very day, the clock on the remaining wall of the old railway station remains stuck at 5:17 (26.07.1963)– the moment when the earthquake hit.
The Plan for Skopje
An international competition to redesign the city was won by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. Skopje was reborn in a imaginative, futuristic style.
In its 2,500 years of existence, North Macedonia’s welcoming capital city has had many different embodiments. All of them – from Roman to Byzantine, from Ottoman to Yugoslav – have left permanent traces on the city as is evidenced by Skopje’s varied architecture and its mix of cultures. Yet in addition to its strong historical associations, Skopje is a forward-looking city offering an abundance of modern amenities and attractions. Apart from being the capital of the modern Republic of North Macedonia, Skopje has always been a center of power yearned for by various empires. Situated on the banks of the River Vardar, a vital trade route is being founded by the Dardanians in the 3rd c. B.C known as “Skupi”, a much prized city for its strategic location. When the Romans ruled, Skopje was made administrative center of the Dardanian Province. The city’s prestige started to grow when the Orthodox Church made it an Episcopal seat during the early Byzantine Empire. Slavic tribes who migrated from the Carpathians in the 6th c. A.D changed both the city’s name and the origin of its people as the descendants of the ancient Macedonians were assimilated by the Slavic newcomers. Throughout the remaining centuries of Byzantium Skopje continued to be an important mercantile center, situated as it was at the crossroads of Balkan trade and communications routes. It was celebrated for its urban life and fortress and distinguished for having the most beautiful church in the region. At the very end of the 14th c.,on the territory of today’s North Macedonia fell under the sway of the Ottoman Turks. In the centuries to come, the town’s profile was altered by the construction of many mosques, Turkish baths, bridges and other buildings attesting to the new Oriental influence. Today, the Ottoman legacy remains visible in Skopje’s architecture and present among the Islamic minority. This latter tendency reached its zenith in (26.07. 1963) when a catastrophic earthquake destroyed much of the regal old city.
After North Macedonia was liberated from the Turks’ sway in the early 20th century, it became a Republic of the Yugoslav Federation with Skopje as its capital. At the time, the prosperous city boasted many neoclassical buildings laid out harmoniously in a more or less Central European style. However, in 1963 a dreadful earthquake destroyed much of the regal old city. An international competition to redesign the city was won by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. Skopje was reborn in a imaginative, futuristic style. His creations, such as the National Theater with its sloping roof of concrete, have shaped Skopje’s modern skyline. To this very day, the clock on the remaining wall of the old railway station remains stuck at 5:17 – the moment when the earthquake hit.