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Skopje is capital city of the Republic of Macedonia; is it located in the Povardarie region, is the largest and most diverse city in the country. Skopje has been occupied by many different peoples since its foundation. This is evidenced by the several Byzantine churches and monasteries around the city, also by a few Roman sites, such as Scupi and Skopje's Aqueduct. However, the group that left the greatest mark on Skopje were the Ottomans. The Ottomans ruled Macedonia for hundreds of years and built a large number of mosques and other buildings.

Today, Skopje is becoming a modern city. Home to about quarter of the entire population of the country, it is also home to many different types of people. Besides the majority Macedonians, many Albanians, Turks, Roma, Serbs, Bosniaks and others call Skopje home.


Skopje is the financial and political center of Macedonia and by far its biggest city. The city population is around 600,000, however unofficially during working-days it can almost reach 1 million, which is half of the population of the county.

The 26th of July 1963 is one of the worst dates in the history of Skopje. An earthquake struck the city at 5:17AM. 75% of the buildings in the city disappeared in just a few seconds. After that, the big rebuilding project began, trying to make Skopje the model city of the socialist world. The plan was drawn by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, who also designed the new railway station. The plan was never fully carried out. Lately many reconstruction projects have started. Some towers of Kale Fortress and the old cathedral are being reconstructed, and the old theater is also under reconstruction. Skopje is an ecclectic mix of Christian and Islamic culture, with both vying to make themselves visible. However, this cultural mix has also spawned a lively and varied society, you can see people playing chess in the morning in the numerous cafés and green spaces in the summer. In the evening, Skopje comes to life as the locals dine in the cafés before heading to the bars and live music clubs, most of which are open until 1AM or later.


Apart from being the capital of the modern Republic of Macedonia, Skopje has always been a center of power long coveted by various empires.The city founded by the Dardanians in the 3rd century B.C.E. under the name of ‘Skupi’ was prized for its strategic location, in a long valley between two hills, situated on the banks of the Vardar River, a vital trade route. Under the Romans, Skopje was made administrative center of the Dardanian Province. The city’s prestige grew when the Orthodox Church made it an episcopal seat during the early Byzantine Empire. The arrival of migrating Slavic tribes from the Carpathians in the 6th century C.E. changed both the city’s name and the composition of its people were assimilated by the Slavic newcomers. Throughout the remaining Byzantine centuries, 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 renowned for having the most beautiful church in the region. In 14th century, Skopje became the capital of the strongest Empire of Serbia, which was one of the largest and strongest Europe's countries that period. At the very end of the 14th century, Skopje and all of Macedonia fell under the rule of the Ottoman Turks. In the ensuing centuries, the look of the town changed with the construction of many mosques, Turkish baths, bridges, and other buildings attesting to the new Oriental influence. Today, the Ottoman legacy remains extremely visible in Skopje’s architecture and small Islamic minority. After Macedonia was liberated from the Turks in the early 20th century, became a part of Kingdom of Serbia, then it became a republic of the Yugoslav Federation, with Skopje as the capital. At that time, the prosperous city boasted many ornate, Neoclassical buildings laid out harmoniously in a more or less Central European style. However, in 1963 a disastrous earthquake leveled much of the regal old city, and Skopje was reborn in the imaginative, futuristic style in vogue at the time. Today, Skopje is a modern city and Macedonia’s major political, economical, educational, and cultural center.

Get in

By plane

Skopje's airport, Skopje Aleksandar Makedonski International Airport (Alexander the Great) (IATA: SKP), is 20km from Skopje. Cities that are connected to Skopje are: Ljubljana, Milan, Vienna, Sarajevo, Sofia, Split, Zagreb, Prague, Cologne, Bonn, Zurich, Belgrade, Ohrid, Dusseldorf, Budapest, Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Istanbul, Paris, and Rome. Airlines that serve Skopje are: MAT(Macedonian Airlines), Adria Airways, MALEV, Austrian Airlines, Cirrus, Alitalia, B&H Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Czech Airlines, Helvetic Airways, Jat Airways, LTU International, and Turkish Airlines. The airport is accessed by the main highway Belgrade-Skopje-Thessaloniki which connects it directly with the city. Unfortunately there is no public transport that connects the airport with Skopje so you would have to take a taxi or arrange personal transportation.

By train

Daily trains run between Skopje and Belgrade, Serbia (9 hours) and Thessaloniki, Greece (5 hours).

If you come from Greece, you have to give your passport to a policeman at the border (in the train). Then you have to get out of the train and go into a small house outside the train station, to get your passport back again. If you don´t know what to do, ask other passengers and look at what they are doing. Usually they are very friendly and want to help you.

The transport center includes the train and the bus station together. They are located east of the city centre near the National Central Bank. To get to the city centre from the bus/train station, if you don't have a map, walk west along the main road which passes under the station (Mt Vodno with its cross is south, ie. on your left). When you get to the river go left and follow the river until you arrive at the old bridge and central square. About 15 minutes walk.

By bus

There are buses to Skopje from Sofia, Pristina, Belgrade, Thessaloniki (Mon. and Wed. only), Istanbul, Zagreb, Austria, Germany, Dubrovnik, Tirana, and Podgorica. The buses arrive in the bus station which is below the train station. All the domestic and international buses arrive in the bus station. It is a new bus station and very modern [1], tel. (+389) (2) 246 60 11 (speaking english)

If you wish to travel to Skopje from Sofia, there are 5 buses a day. Matpu 96 which can be found in near to the Sofia Central Bus Station has buses at 09:30, 12:00, 16:00 and 19:00. The cost of a ticket is approximately 30 Lev (15 euros) but they accept euros too. The journey will take around 6 hours and will also include a time zone change from Sofia (GMT + 2) to Skopje (GMT + 1 or Central European Time), so the 16:00 bus will arrive at Skopje Bus Station at approximately 21:00. The website of the bus company is here but is quite old - [2]

Get around

By taxi

Taking a taxi in Skopje should normally not cost more than 200 MKD. An example journey is from City Centre to Biser (a shopping centre with many bars and cafes that is popular with young people) which should take about 10 - 15 mins and cost around 150 Denars (MKD).

From the train station to the center of the city is 2km and should cost 50 MKD. Never let yourself be talked into going somewhere where you did not plan to go in the first place. Like many cities in Europe, if you seem unsure and foreign, the charge will probably be higher so appear confident about the price and if the taxi driver still insists on a ridiculous price, find another taxi, there are plently.


Most people in Skopje just see the concrete buildings and run away, but if one looks deeper one will find some excellent examples of Ottoman architecture and much more. Most of the sights in Skopje are situateded in and around the old bazaar.

Medieval Hotels








Shopping centers and markets


Macedonia’s capital offers something to satisfy all modern tastes and appetites. Make sure to try the famous Macedonian foods such as burek, Shopska Salata, and others.

Skopje’s eateries are plentiful and offer a diverse range of local and international flavors. International cuisine is well represented in Skopje with Chinese, Italian, Indian, Greek, Mexican, Middle Eastern and French restaurants all found within the city center. In addition, pizza and fast food places abound, as do small bakery cafes selling pastries such as the ubiquitous burek (a flaky filo pie stuffed with meat, cheese or spinach).






Its not hard to find good cafes but a good place to start is by the riverside near the old bridge, and at night this becomes a lively party area as well.







Stay safe

Skopje, just like most of the rest of Macedonia, is a relatively safe place. But, the usual rules about common sense apply here as they would anywhere. The places were crime occurs most often are in the places where tourists have little reason to be at. Night time in the old market may have roving bands of youth. Exercise a high level of caution in these areas or avoid this area at night. Like many other parts of Eastern and Central Europe, there are people who will beg around the major tourist sites and sometimes engage in pickpocketing.



Get out


Related Information

A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [11].

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

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