South balkans

Macedonia (Skopje)- Montenegro(to be prepared soon)

skopjefogMacedonia:

Skopje is the capital of the Republic of Macedonia (as a result of a dispute with Greece over its name, it was admitted under the provisional reference of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – FYROM), the city has Byzantine churches and monasteries, ancient Roman sites and Ottomans mosques and other buildings. Nowadays in Skopje live Macedonians with many minorities like Albanians, Turks, Serbs.

Skopje comes to life as the locals dine in the cafés before heading to the bars and live music clubs.

The 26th of July 1963 an earthquake struck the city, 75% of the buildings disappeared in just a few seconds.

Get in

Skopje’s airport “Alexander the Great” connects the city to several European countries (Netherlands, Italy, Austria, UK, Germany…). From the terminal there are buses running into Skopje centre (Cost one-way from airport to Skopje is 150MKD).

Daily trains run between Skopje and Belgrade (Serbia) (9 hours), however buses are often the best option.

There are daily buses to Skopje from Sofia and Pristina leaving several times per day. Belgrade, Thessaloniki, Istanbul, Zagreb, Austria, Germany, Dubrovnik, Tirana, and Podgorica are other destinations.

See

alexgreatPerhaps the main symbol of Skopje is the Warrior on a Horse, a statue and fountain in the centre of Macedonia Square. It is typically thought to depict Alexander the Great, though it is not officially named for him.

Kale Fortress. The Kale Fortress stands on the highest hill in the Skopje valley and offers great views over the city. The oldest section of the fortress is within the present day fortifications. Free entrance

Stone Bridge. The Stone Bridge was built in the 6th century by the Byzantine emperor Justinian.

Old Bazaar. Even though some parts of the old bazaar have been destroyed to make streets and parking lots, it still is the largest one in the Balkans and there is still a lot of atmosphere in it. In the past it was covered with wine grape, so it would protect the shoppers from the sun and the rain. The old bazaar was never used for living, it always was a shopping area and contact zone of the Christian and the Muslim population as they lived in separate parts of the town. It is a structure of many streets lined with small shops.

Budgeteuro…tips

makedonialakeStay at Urban hostel. It is a quiet and tidy hostel with nice rooms (with balcony), a front garden and a back yard. Breakfast is included in the price. Friendly staff always willing to help. More for tourists rather than for backpackers. It s located in a beautiful zone not far from city centre. Bars, mini markets and restaurants are at walking distance.

Explore Matka Canyon, (approx 30 minutes outside of Skopje by public bus, nr. 60, it runs every 90 minutes, therefore ask for the schedule times). Features a lake and a dam. Climbers and hikers enjoy a variety of tours of different difficulty there. You can see a complex of medieval monasteries and remnants of a fortress remain too.

Visit Bit Pazar. the biggest food market in Skopje. It begins where the old bazaar ends. A walk around can be fun, but you can also get cheap fresh vegetables and fruits, bio-cheese, spices…

Make sure to try Macedonian/balkan food specialties such as burek (a flaky filo pie stuffed with meat, cheese or spinach), Shopska Salata, cevapi and others.

Seat in a cafe by the riverside near the old bridge and spend some time there, at night this area becomes a lively party zone, there are plenty of bars are in the Old Bazar too, the nightlife there recently has become very interesting (La Kaña, Damar, Rakija Bar…)

Vodno Mountain – 1066 meters above sea level it towers over Skopje. It is popular hiking place with marked paths leading through the woods and there are a couple of rest areas. On the top of Vodno the Millennium Cross was built to mark 2000 years of Christianity in Macedonia. It is 66 meters high and it is the highest structure in Macedonia.

Events

Skopje Summer Festival.
Offest, This festival takes place on several locations in Skopje, such as the Universal Hall, Skopje Square, the Youth Cultural Center, and many attractive night clubs in the city. June.
Skopje Jazz Festival. For one week every October, Skopje hosts eminent jazz musicians from all over the world. The Skopje Jazz Festival is considered to be one of the best of its kind in Europe. October.  
Autumn Music. November. There is the classical music as a base of this manifestation’s programme, yet it always leaves space for the other types of music genres such as jazz, popular song, ethno music etc.  
VINO SKOP – Skopje Wine Festival. October. Wine tasting, vineyard visits, live musical entertainment from international artists in the heart of the city. 
PIVOLEND. August/September. Gourmet weekend with beer. 

Daily trips

ohridlakeOhrid lake  is one of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes. It was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1979
– Marko’s Monastery is an active monastery situated outside Sushica village on Kitka mountain.
– Skopska Crna Gora and its medieval churches and monasteries, even though Vodno is the most popular hiking option in Skopje, a fun and educational day trip from Skopje is visiting the villages, churches and monasteries on Skopska Crna Gora Mountain.
– St.Bogorodica Church in Kucevishte village
– Tumba is an archaeological site from the Early Stone Age. Ceramic models of houses formed in the shape of the female body are among its valuable finds.
– Cerje is an archaeological site from the Early Stone Age. Its unique finds include the figurine known as Adam from Govrlevo, one of the earliest prehistoric male figurines.
– Gradishte, a fortified settlement from the Early Byzantine period. It is believed to be Taoresion, the native town of Emperor Justinian.
– Marko’s Castle is an Early Byzantine fortress, heavily fortified with 40 towers. It was the site of the medival town of Crnce.
Skupi – the ancient city of Skupi is almost not worth the effort to reach. There is almost nothing left except for part of a street, a bath, and a basilica.
– Tetovo Around 50 km (50min by bus, plenty of busses around every 30 min weekdays and every hour at sundays). Nice Painted Mosque, Tekke Arabati-Baba and nearby skiing in popova shapka.

A day @ Matka:

  happiness  makedonialake

hiking

naturelover

Eat local! Try burek for a delicious, fast and cheap snack:

burek

Remember it! 😉

muslim

Skopje old bridge:

skopjebridge

View of the city fortress by night:

skopjenite

Meanwhile in Skopje… 🙂

transportation

 

Montenegro (soon to come more info)

Budva and Montenegro’s coast

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