I like preparing those short guides for you with information what to see in different cities. I look for articles like this as well when we are preparing for a trip and planning the route. It’s very useful when we don’t have much time to visit a city and we still want to see the main attractions. We spent only one day in Skopje. It’s not enough to know the city but we will show you the diversity of Skopje and what you can see there in one day. I will divide the places into two parts: first the modern part of the city, then our favorite old Turkish district.
What to see in Skopje?
Skopje, the capital of Macedonia is a city of contrasts. On one side there is a modern part of the city with new buildings and expensive shops. On the other side there is the old Turkish district full of history and the heritage of the Ottoman times. The city is very interesting and diverse.
During its history, Skopje was already under the Byzantine, Bulgarian, Serbian and Turkish rules. Most of the inhabitants of Macedonia are of course Macedonians, but around 25% are Albanians. That’s why you can hear different languages on the street. In Skopje people often speak Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish. Thanks to that the city is diverse and very interesting for tourists.
Macedonia Square and the monument of Alexander the Great
Skopje is a city of monument and the biggest one is the statue of Alexander the Great with a fountain. It was built to celebrate the 20 years of independence of Macedonia. Officially it’s a monument of a Warrior on a Horse but everyone knows it’s Alexander the Great and they call it this way. The official name is not used. Do you want to know why the name of the monument was changed?
It’s a triumphal arch which was also made for 20 years of independence of Macedonia. Both the arch and the monument of Alexander the Great are part of a project “Skopje 2014: financed by the government. The main idea of the project was to build colleges, museums, government buildings and monuments of important people from the Macedonian history. The project was very controversial. Firstly, the total cost of the project was estimated for up to 500 million euro. Secondly, many people believed that the government just wants to claim important historic figures for itself. Yes, here comes the old and never-ending dispute between Greeks and Macedonians about the origin of Alexander the Great and his father Filip II of Macedon. Macedonian government officially announced that the project is not anti-Greek and they decided to change the name of the monument of Alexander the Great.
Memorial House of Mother Teresa
The Memorial House is located in the center of the city on Macedonia Street. There is a small chapel inside and many souvenirs related to the life of Mother Teresa. It’s a very important person for Macedonians. She was born in Skopje as Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu and she lived there until she turned 18. If it comes to the ethnic origin, she was born in an Albanian family. In Albania you will see many places related to Mother Teresa as well. As for the Memorial House, visiting it is free and it’s worth to go there for a while. I personally liked the building itself because of its shape and colors.
Old Turkish district
I will say it again but this is our favorite part of Skopje. It’s a place with great atmosphere, beautiful architecture and a piece of interesting history of the city. You can buy there the most beautiful souvenirs, eat the best food and try amazing sweets as baklava with chocolate.
Stone Bridge connects the modern part of Skopje with the old Ottoman district. The bridge itself is from the Ottoman times and it’s the most famous place in the capital. It’s even in the coat of arms of the city. A walk along the bridge above Vardar river is a “must do” in the capital of Macedonia. After crossing the Stone Bridge we end up in a different world. It’s a world where you can still see oriental influence in architecture, decorations and food. It’s difficult not to fall in love with this city.
Kale is a Turkish word and it means fortress. It was constructed in the 6th century but the new archeological research show that people lived there already in Neolithic Age. In 1963 the fortress was destroyed in an earthquake. Of course, they reconstructed it but it looks different than before the earthquake. I recommend you see it also at night.
Mustafa Pasha Mosque
There are several mosques in the Turkish part of the city. Some of them are small and you may not even notice them. The most famous and the most beautiful one is Mustafa Pasha Mosque. You can see it inside as well (of course, remember about proper clothes) but it looks amazing from outside as well. It looks charming especially in the evening with the lights.
In the Ottoman times caravanserais were a roadside inns built near the trade routes so the caravans could stop there. There was space for people, animals and the merchants could store their goods there. In Skopje there used to be caravanserais too. Three of them exist until now. In Kapan Han there is a restaurant, in Suli Han a museum and Kurshumli Han is a part of National Museum.
Daut Pasha Hamam
In Arabic countries and also in Turkey, hamam is a public bath. Daut Pasha was a Grand Vesir of the Empire and according to the legend he built the hamam for his harem. Later he gave it to the city before leaving Skopje. Now the building is not used as a public bath anymore, but there is a National Art Gallery inside it.
I have marked with blue the places in the new part of the city and with green the ones in the old Turkish district.
Have you already been to Skopje? What did you like most? Are you planning your first trip to Macedonia? If you have questions about Skopje, let us know.