Half of a railway station

City museum, old railway station, Скопје

The current railway station of Скопје is not the first of the capital city of North Macedonia. If you’re leaving the modern city center on Macedonia street and walk to the south, you’ll find the location of the very first railway station. It existed there from 1873 to 1937, then it was torn down and in 1940 a new building was opened there. And that is what you see today, or at least a part of it: two thirds of the station were destroyed in 1963.

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Mother Teresa

Memorial House of Mother Teresa, Скопје

The Catholic nun Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu is known throughout the world as Mother Teresa, as an example for a person who has dedicated her life to help the poor. Under the name of Saint Teresa of Calcutta she has been officially declared a saint of the Catholic church mostly for her work in India. But where did she come from? The Albanians see her as a national hero, in Kosovo they name churches and airports after her. The people remember her at Скопје, North Macedonia. But maybe we also need to connect her to the Ottoman Empire.

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Macedonian denar, Скопје

When Yugoslavia broke apart and Macedonia became independent in 1992, it also gave up the Yugoslav dinar and introduced a new currency: the Macedonian denar (MKD). A denar is split into 100 deni (from the Roman Denarius coin), but you don’t need to memorize this: the deni are not circulating anymore. Instead there are coins with the value of 1 to 50 denars and banknotes from 10 to 5,000 denars. They show animals and historic buildings from Macedonia.

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Modern trains, ancient stations

Main railway station, Скопје

At Скопје you can currently discover two railway stations: the historic one from 1940 that is nowadays the city museum and the current one in Brutalist style. From the outside it looks like a number of pipes stored next to each other, but the Soviet-style inside is very well worth a visit; it is like travelling in time. When in 1963 an earthquake destroyed most of the former railway station, Japanese architect Kenzō Tange was engaged to built a new earthquake-safe one.

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View from Kale fortress, Скопје

The fortress of Скопје is called Kale (the Turkish word for fortress) and located on a hill next to old city center. It was built in the 6th century by Byzantine emperor Justinian I. It became important over time as Скопје was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire, but also the Serbian emperor was crowned there in 1346. When in 1963 an earthquake destroyed Скопје to large extent, also the fortress received massive damage. Kale has been rebuilt to some extent, but still today excavation works take place there.

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Porta Makedonija

Porta Makedonija, Скопје

Leaders seem to love triumphal arches. If you don’t have one like at Paris, you built one like at București. But it is rather seldom that you really invest in such monument nowadays. The Porta Macedonia at Скопје is an exception to this rule created in 2012 during the highly disputed project Skopje 2014 reshaping the city center. It commemorates the 20th anniversary of the young state of North Macedonia.

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Alexander the Great

Statue of Alexander the Great, Скопје

Once you’ll reach the Macedonia Square of Скопје you will be astonished: in its center there is a big column reminding one of the Trajans column at Roma, surrounded by lions and large statues of soldiers. And on top is a giant statue of Alexander the Great on his horse Bucephalus. One of the largest monuments I’ve ever seen in a city center and one the creates a conflict with the neighbor Greece as both countries fight about whom the heritage of this leader belongs to.

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Three bridges

Stone bridge, Скопје

The old and the new city center of Скопје, North Macedonia, are connected by an ancient bridge, the Stone Bridge (Камен Мост). Already in Roman times a bridge was crossing the river Vardar here. The current structures are of Osman origin: they were created by Mehmed the Conqueror from 1451 on. In 1944 the German Wehrmacht wanted to blow up the bridge which could be prevented – and therefore the bridge is still today a town’s landmark of the city and part of the city arms.

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Centrally located

View from ibis Hotel, Скопје

There are plenty of good hotel options at Скопје, North Macedonia. One that suited all my needs was the ibis located opposite to the Brutalist-style telecommunication building connected to the famous post office. It can be found in a quiet side street, just a stone’s throw away from the Macedonia Square. Via a bridge next to the hotel you can reach the old town very fast and the transfer from the airport also brings you close to this place.

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Меѓународен аеродром Скопје

International airport, Скопје

The airport of Скопје (SKP), North Macedonia, is a small but good one. It has one terminal and one runway, as a passenger it is very convenient and fast to use. Formerly the airport was named after Alexander the Great; as a part of the conflict resolution with Greece the airport name has been neutralized. SKP is located 20 kilometers outside of Скопје at Петровец. It is operated by a Turkish airport company called TAV.

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