Skupi Archeological Site

Historical Attractions, Top Attractions

Historical Attractions | Top Attractions

Skupi Archeological Site

Scupi is an archaeological site located between Zajčev Rid and the Vardar River, several kilometers from the center of Skopje in North Macedonia.

History and more…

Scupi is an archaeological site located between Zajčev Rid and the Vardar River, several kilometers from the center of Skopje in North Macedonia. A Roman military camp was founded here in the second century BC on the site of an older Dardanian settlement. It became later Colonia Flavia Aelia Scupi and many veteran legionnaires were settled there. A Roman town was founded in the time of Domitian (AD 81–96) and Scupi became the chief center for romanizing Dardania. It was abandoned in AD 518 after an earthquake completely destroyed the city.


Scupi became the capital of Dardania, which extended from Naissus to Bylazora, in the second century BC. The Dardanians had remained independent after the Roman conquest of Macedonia, because they had supported the Romans, hoping to enlarge their territory in this way. It is not clear when the Romans finally annexed Dardania and it seems most likely that the Dardani actually lost independence in 28 BC. Scupi grew up as a colony of legionnaires, mainly veterans of the Legio IIV Claudia in the time of Domitian (AD 81–96), even though several legions of Crassus’ army of 29-28 BC, may already have been stationed there, before the official imperial command in this area was instituted. Scupi was included in Moesia Superior after the province was formed in AD 6. From 272 AD, it was a colony inside the Roman province of Dardania after it was established. Scupi was ravaged several times by barbarians, in AD 269 by the Goths, in 5th century by the Huns and finally in the year 518 was completely destroyed by an earthquake. Life in Scupi stopped after the earthquake and it is assumed that the people from Scupi moved to live on Kale, a hill in the center of Skopje.

The moving of the city is often connected with the founding of Justiniana Prima. Justiniana Prima was a legendary city founded by Justinian I, who reigned over the Eastern Roman Empire in 527–565. The connection is based on the assumption that the village Taor which is located near Skopje is Tauresium, Justinian I’s birthplace, and by the description of Justininiana Prima by Procopius that suits Skopje’s fortress (Kale), the Old Bazaar and the aqueduct which are still landmarks of Skopje.


Archaeological excavations at the site of Scupi have begun by incident prior to World War II. The Museum of the City of Skopje, as the owner of the site, started with systematic archaeological research in 1966. With smaller interruptions the excavations and research run continuously even today.

So far, the buildings that have been fully or partially explored are: the ramparts, the theater, the civilian basilica, the town villa, the city bath, the cardio street, the Christian basilica, parts of the eastern and western necropolis.

Did You Know?

Fact #2

The city had changed its name four times throughout the centuries, being called Skupi (13 year B.C), Justinijana Prima (5th, 6th century), Skopje (7th century) and Ushkup (14th century).

Fact #1

After 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.

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