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Skopje - North Macedonia

At my time of visiting Skopje, the country was known as Macedonia, FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). Due to many political issues with Greece, with there being an area of Greece named Macedonia, the country has now been renamed as North Macedonia.

My time in Skopje was very short as I had arranged a day trip here from Sofia, Bulgaria. I had a guide who showed me around the city, and explained the current political situations.

Skopje has had quite a revamp in recent years, their previous government spent a lot of money on attractions to encourage tourism, which in turn would help the country generate more money. However the government they now have in power disagrees with tourism, so the work has stopped. Skopje is now a city which looks very modern in parts, and very old and in need of refurbishment in other areas.

The newer parts of the city are very impressive and I think if they continued with this trend, tourism would increase, which will surely benefit the country as a whole. When I visited though, the streets were empty, and I saw very few if any other tourists during my time here.



The Old Bazaar

Not part of the city's recent regeneration, but it's still one of the best places to visit in Skopje. It's been around since at least the 12th century, so there's plenty of history as you walk around here.

Like other bazaars and old towns it's fun to get lost in the various streets and passageways and to explore the various shops, bars and cafes.

It's also in this area that you'll find mosques, Skopje Fortress and caravanserais, some of which are very impressive.

You can haggle on a price for souvenirs, and if you need some of the local currency, there is a shop near the entrance which is happy to exchange your cash.



Stone Bridge

The newer bridges in Skopje are beautiful, however it's the Stone Bridge which has the most history and importance for the city of Skopje, even featuring on the coat of arms.

It has been damaged and reconstructed many times, often due to both natural disasters and wars. It's most recent refurbishment being during the 1990's.

Nowadays it's the bridge that links old Skopje to the newer regenerated part of Skopje, and it's this bridge that will take you to the Old Bazaar.



Memorial House of Mother Teresa

I'm not religious, but that doesn't mean I'm not happy to explore religious sights. There's often a lot of beauty or fascinating information and history when visiting such places.

Visiting the site of Mother Teresa's house and a museum dedicated to her would not be something I'd have visited on my own accord, but my guide insisted.

Whereby many people consider her to have been a saint, from my understanding there's a lot to say about her on the contrary. But this is not the place to discuss such things.

If you'd like to learn about her life, and consider her to have been a good person, then there's plenty of information and items from her life stored here at the memorial house. The museum of course backs up how great she was, so if you fall into that category I'm sure you'll enjoy this place.

If you've read into many contradictory details about her life elsewhere and are not a fan of her, then obviously I'd suggest avoiding this museum.



Art Bridge

Created in 2014 as part of the regeneration project, this bridge has given new life to the city of Skopje. The bridge leads up to the Primary Public Prosecutor's Office, which is a beautiful building in itself, although not so much a tourist attraction.

The bridge with runs across the Vardar River holds many statues of Macedonian artists and musicians.

Personally I think it gives the city a much more modern and clean look, which will hopefully bring a bit more tourism to the area.



Archaeological Museum of Macedonia

This museum is situated at the end of the Eye Bridge, another bridge created in 2014 for the regeneration project. It's very similar to the Art Bridge but instead displays statues of famous Macedonian civilians.

The museum being fairly new has a modern feel to it and is spread over three stories. It's full of many objects from Macedonian archaeological excavations, and is one of the best museums to really understand the history of Macedonia.



Macedonia Square

The main square in Skopje is now a lot more modern due to the recent regeneration of the city, and although I'm all for keeping historical places true to how they were, I think the square has been greatly improved for the better. However there are still some buildings surrounding the square which are half completed and been halted due to the latest government not wanting to complete them.

In the centre of the square is a statue of Alexander the Great, however due to political conflicts with Greece, this has to simply be referred to as Warrior on Horse.

From the square you'll be able to reach the Old Bridge to the Old Bazaar, and in the other direction you'll find the Memorial House of Mother Teresa.



Mustafa Pasha's Mosque

The Ottoman style mosque was built in 1492 by Mustafa Pasha, his daughter is buried in the türbe next to the mosque.

This is the first mosque I've ever been able to enter. Usually most mosques I've seen on my travels have only allowed entry to Muslims. So it was interesting to actually be allowed inside, after taking off my shoes of course.

The mosque is an interesting sight to see both outside and inside. It overlooks much of the Old Bazaar, and is very close to Skopje Fortress.

Provided there are no events on when you visit then I certainly implore you to take a quick look inside if you've never been into a mosque yourself.



Skopje Fortress

The fortress dates back to the 6th century and has seen a lot of action over the years.

I'm afraid that I only admired it from a distance, and I didn't take the time to actually explore. My guide advised me that there's not much to see of the fortress, and most tourists feel they've wasted their time doing so.

From what I understand it's not all that well designed for tourists, but there's so much that could be done to make it more accommodating.

I think that if the recent regeneration in the city were to continue then surely it's only a matter of time until they improve the infrastructure around the fortress to attract more tourists.

If you have time in Skopje, then explore it. If you're short on time then I would go with what my guide advised and skip it.



Matka Canyon

If you're in Skopje longer than I was then I suggest checking out Matka Canyon. You'll find a beautiful lake inside a huge canyon, with several caves and even monasteries in the area.

Many people take boats out onto the lake during the warmer months and there are plenty of hiking trails of varying difficulties.


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