Apart from beauty, another thing I love is travelling. I travel as much as I can and living in another country than my home country has definitely given me itchy feet to discover more of this world! Since my other half has a passion for Eastern Europe, my last trip went to Macedonia.
We spent the first days in Macedonia’s capital Skopje. For a capital city, I found Skopje to be quite small, its population is only 500,000. So what would you expect when you go to Macedonia? A country that has suffered in wars and where the average income is EUR 500 a month? Well, I was prepared for lower standards and probably a not so nice city, but Skopje is completely the opposite. The government has almost completed its Skopje 2014 project which aimed at re-establishing Macedonia’s culture. Basically, this resulted in what seems a bit like Disneyland to me. There are tons of statues, fancy bridges and museums being built or either completed.
The centre of Skopje is Macedonia Square which features a giant statue called warrior on a horse. And when I say giant, I mean GIANT. This statue/fountain is almost 30 metres high, features a bronze statue on top of a marble pillar. At night, it plays music in accordance with the water and light changes. When I stood in front of it, it felt a bit like Vegas!
And that is not all, when crossing the old rebuilt stone bridge over the river Vardar, there is another square with even more statues, fountains and new buildings.
I have to admit, as a tourist it is nice to look at all this, but it does not show the real Macedonia. Just right after the bridge is where some of the old Skopje is preserved in the Old Bazaar.
The Bazaar is a wild mixture of Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish and other cultures. There are numerous restaurants and cafés which offer authentic local food and the atmosphere is homely and relaxed. I prefer the Old Bazaar over the modern Skopje as it gives me a feeling of being in the Balkans and is much more authentic than the new built squares.
Something you can find anywhere in Macedonia are monasteries. We were wandering through the Old Bazaar when I came across this one, which just looks so peaceful.
Something I did not know about Skopje before I went there, is that it is also the birth place of Mother Teresa. A little bit after Macedonia Square, a new museum has been built on where the house was standing in which she was born.
Skopje is one of the most interesting cities I have been to so far. It is a city of contrasts, you can be standing on Macedonia Square, admiring the expensive statues and as soon as you wander further away from the centre, you are confronted with poverty and people who literally own nothing. It is definitely shocking and makes many people wonder why there is so much investment in statues and buildings instead of fighting poverty. Skopje is most definitely worth a visit and will give you something to think about!
How to get there:
There are cheap flights from London Luton to Skopje with the Hungarian airline Wizz Air.
Where to stay:
We stayed in this apartment click here. The apartment was clean and the location was fantastic. I feared that it would be a bit noisy due to the street but it was ok. We also had breakfast which is always good. All this came at an affordable price and I was very happy with the value for money.