Skopje in Macedonia – Skopje is capital city of the North Macedonia. A small country, but there are a lot of places to see in it. The city of Skopje is the capital city and has a gamut of sites which are worth visiting in a lifetime.
The North Macedonia gained its independence in 1991 as one of the successor states of Yugoslavia.
It gained its independence from the Persian Achaemenid Empire, then ruled by Bulgaria again, and in 1945 it was established as a constituent state.
It is an upper-middle-income country and has undergone considerable economic reforms since independence in developing an open economy.
North Macedonia People and Culture
North Macedonia has a rich cultural heritage in art, architecture, poetry, and music. The city of Skopje is interspersed with numerous statues of the king Alexander.
The entire country reveres the king Alexander so much that the name of the airport is officially referred to “Skopje Alexander the Great Airport”. It’s an hour’s journey from the Instanbul’s Ataturk Airport, Turkey.
Skopje Macedonia Flights
There are daily flights from Istanbul to Skopje. It takes an hour of journey from Istanbul to Skopke. To enter the country you need to get a visiting visa for the country from the embassy of Macedonia.
If you are a citizen of European country or a citizen of countries which are a part of the Schengen Agreement, you can enter and stay in the country for 90 days. Citizens who possess EU resident card can visit Macedonia for 15 days.
Citizens of the United States of America do NOT require a visa to enter Macedonia for business and tourism trips. Once can stay for a maximum of 90 days on such trips in any period of 6 months.
Citizens from Argentina, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cuba, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, Malta, Monaco, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, Peru, Serbia, Uruguay, New Zealand, Kosovo, Peru, Panama, Montenegro and Venezuela can travel to Macedonia without a visa if they stay less than 90 days.
Macedonia receives its most of its tourists from these neighbouring countries – Turkey, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria. These are the most visited top 5 cities in North Macedonia
Skopje in North Macedonia
Skopje, Macedonia, has long been known as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. But it also happens to be home to some of its best hotels, restaurants, bars and, yes, museums.
Standing on the banks of the Vardar River amid mountainous country, Skopje is a city that has been shaped by history.
Skopje is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of North Macedonia. It is a very attractive tourist destination with its fortress, cultural and historical monuments, archaeological sites, sport halls and caves in the canyon of the River Treska and Lake Matka.
The city of Skopje is famous for being the birth place of Mother Teresa. The city’s architecture is characterized by its many churches and monasteries, which are built from stone and decorated with frescoes.
The city also boasts several museums, including the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography, the Macedonian State Library and the National History Museum.
In addition, some of the places worth visiting are the Kale Fortress, Stone bridge, Macedonia Square, Mother Teresa memorial house, Matka canyon and lake Ohrid.
For those who don’t know where they are, here are the must see places to visit in Skopje and the Republic of North Macedonia:
1. The Old Bazaar
Old Bazaar Map
The Old Bazaar is in the city of Skopje, and is located on the eastern part of the Vardar river and is one of the most famous landmarks in the city.
The Old Bazaar has been the Skopje’s center for trade and commerce since the 12th century. In addition to being a market place, the Old Bazaar is popular for its rich cultural and historical values.
It is a very popular tourist attraction, and its popularity has been growing in the recent years. A walk around the bazaar is a once in lifetime experience, the colors, the landscape, the sounds will be etched in your mind forever. If you are at the Old Bazaar, remeber to visit the following places.
Suli An (inn), Church St. Spas, Bezisten, Kapan An (inn), Kurshumli An (inn) and Daut Pasha Amam (hammam) Cifte Amam (hammam).
2. Stone Bridge over the river Vardar
The Stone Bridge is a bridge built of stone on the Vardar river in Skopje. This bridge is also less popularly known as Dusan Bridge.
The stone bridge is considered a symbol of the city of Skopje.By providing connectivity from the Macedonia Square to the Old Bazaar, the Stone Bridge is an integral part and parcel of the daily activities of the residents of the city.
The Stone Bridge is built of solid stone blocks and is supported by firm columns that are connected with 12 semicircular arcs.
The bridge is 214 m (702 ft) long and 6 m (20 ft) wide. Today, the bridge is accessible only for pedestrians, but historically it was also used for traffic. It was named “Stone Bridge” because it was built using crushed stone.
3. Macedonia Square
The Macedonia Square is the largest square of the city of Skopje. It is adjacent to the Stone Bridge. The square serves as the location for many cultural and political events.
The independence of Macedonia from Yugoslavia was declared here. Many residents flock on the banks of river Vardar on to the Macedonia square to relax and indulge in cultural activities.
In the Macednonia square, one can see the 22-metre statue of the ancient Macedonian leader Alexander the Great, as well as the biggest shopping center in the city. It’s easy to walk around here, especially since it’s not too crowded.
4. Kale Fortress in Skopje’s Old Town
The Skopje fortress is also known as the Kale Fortess is located at the old town of Skopje. This historic fortress is situated on the highest point of the Vardar river.
This fortress was build in 6th century and constructed with limestone and travertine. This fortress has some latin inscriptions on it. A large coins of Byzantine coins was excavated at the fortress in 2010.
If you are visiting Skopje, you can’t miss the view of the Fort as it is elevated and visible from most parts of the city
5. Mother Teresa Memorial House
The Mother Teresa memorial house is dedicated to the Noble Peace Prize laureate Mother Teresa. A fact which very few people are aware of is that Mother Teresa was born in Skopje and Skopje is her hometown.
This memorial is situated to the east of the Macedonia Square. The memorial house has been opened in 2009 and a lot of tourists visit the place.
You should buy an entrance ticket to visit the inside of the memorial. This memorial consists of some of the Mother Teresa’s letters to the contemporary leaders and other memorabilia.
6. Mustapha Pasha Mosque
Mustapha Pasha mosque is an Ottoman era mosque situated near the Old Bazaar of the Skopje city. This mosque is build in the year 1492 by Mustafa Pasha, the then vizier of the court of Sultan Selim.
The mosque is visible from almost all of the vantage points in the city due to its dominant position and monumentality.
The mosque has calligraphic inscriptions with quotations from Quran. The mosque was once part of a complex consisting of the mosque, a caravanserai, a madrasa, an imaret (soup kitchen), a mekteb, and a türbe. Today, only the mosque, türbe, and the stone sarcophagus of Umi, one of Mustafa Pasha’s daughters, remains.
7. Matka Canyon in Skopje City
The Matka Canyon, also known as Matka in short is a canyon located west of central Skopje. Matka is one of the most popular tourist outdoor destinations in Macedonia.
The Matka lake which is the part of the Matka canyon is the official lake of the Macedonia. The Matka canyon features multiple caves ranging from 20m to 176m in length. The canyon has two vertical pits which are around 35m deep.
The Matka canyon is around an hour’s drive from Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia. The canyon area is a home to many of the historic churches and monasteries. Boating and paddling are allowed activities in Matka Canyon.
If you like the thrill of boating alone or with your loved ones, you can rent the paddle boats near the canyon and make a trip. You can also make rides with motorised boats in the canyon
8. Lake Ohrid and the Mountains
Lake Ohrid is one of the deepest and oldest lakes. Lake Ohrid is a habitat for around 200 species of fishes. This lake has clear water and attracts a lot of tourists every year.
In 1979, the World Heritage Committee declared the Macedonian side of the lake Ohrid as a World Heritage site.
A 6 hour boat ride in lake Ohrid costs approximately 10 Euros per person.
Ohrid is around 120km far from the Skopje city. You can take a bus to Ohrid from the Skopje’s bus stand. Buses start early in the morning around 5am and reach Ohrid by 8am.
While returning, the buses start around 6pm and reach Skopje by 9pm, there by enabling people to visit Ohrid in a day. The best time to visit Ohrid is between May and September
9. Bitola city in Macedonia
Bitola is one of the oldest and the second largest city in Macedonia. River Dragor flows through the city of Bitola. Bitola is famous for its historical buildings from different historical periods.
The buildings from the Ottoman are notable. Bitola is an important industrial, agricultural, commercial, educational, and cultural center.
10. Galicica National Park
Galicica national park is located on the North Macedonian side of the mountain, situated between the two biggest lakes in the republic: Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa.
The views across the lakes and the neighbouring mountains are some of the most beautiful views on the earth. The visit to Lake Ohrid is not complete without a visit to the Galicica National Park.
Visitors take a boat from the Ohrid to visit this stunningly beautiful Galicica National Park.
11. Statues in Skopje
The City of Skopje is very famous for its many statues and sculputures. These statues were erected with a plan to attract tourism in the city. There are so many statues that these status have become an attraction to the tourists.
Other notable places in Skopje
Some of the other notable places in Macedonia are, Ezreni Bird Sanctuary, Tikves Strict Natural Reserve, Lokvi-Golemo Konjari Strict Natural Reserve.
If you are not high on budget and want to explore some of the historical and ancient places, you should visit North Macedonia once in your lifetime. Trust me, you won’t regret your decision.