Old vs New – Skopje

I visited Macedonia, in April 2014. I attended a seminar in the capital of the country – Skopje. Before witnessing the town myself, I heard about a project to rebuild buildings and monuments in it. Never really took it as something interesting or important. Oh boy, was I in for a surprise. It seems that new constructions and sculptures were popping up everywhere, so fast that even locals didn’t know what the hell is going on.

So why was Skopje invaded by such constructions? Firstly we need to know one important thing from its past. in 1963, the town got hit by a devastating earthquake. Over 1,070 people got killed, between 3,000 and 4,000 were injured and more than 200,000 people became homeless. About 80 percent of the city was destroyed. Another important point in Macedonia’s history is its struggle for international recognition since it became an independent state in 1991, and Skopje shifted from just another town in Yugoslavia to a capital of a new country. One of the ideas was to restore the previous look of the town before the catastrophe in the 60’s, but it seems that the project took a turn to become the physical validation of the national identity.

In order to restore, or one can even say start, the capitals old/new look, the Government initiated ‘Skopje 2014 project’. The project envisioned constructing over 20 large scale buildings and many more sculptures of famous people, but even animals. The project cost was planned at 80 million euros, done at around 200 millions euros but unofficially estimated up to even a billion of euros.

During my stay, I noticed that the difference between  the the new center of the town and its surroundings was vast. I felt like being in two different towns, in two different time periods two different realities.

Budjism - Skopje Triumphant gateOne of the main symbols of the project is Porta Macedonia, a triumphant arc situated on 11 October Street, near Macedonia Square

Budjism - Skopje Roman armor Roman armor on the streets of Old Bazar

Budjism Skopje - Art Bridge

The art bridge. which includes 29 sculptures. One of them represents Dimitar Kondovski who was a Macedonian painter, critic and professor

Budjism - Skopje decorative carpets                   Decorative  carpet store at the beginning of the Old Bazar

Budjism - Skopje Prometheus The sculpture of Prometheus. Originally the sculpture depicted a naked man, but eventually the sculptor had to add underwear, because of public dismay

Budjism - Skopje Daut Pasha BathsThe National Gallery of Macedonia. Its permanent collection is housed in the 15th century Turkish Bath building known as the Daut Pasha Baths

Budjsim - Skopje Museum of ArcheologyMuseum of Archaeology, depicting the Greek revival architecture

Budjism - Skopje Bazar streetsBustling streets in the Old Bazar

Budjism - Skopje VardarA new office building was constructed on the south side of Macedonia Square, on the Vardar Quay. It stands on the same place as the former headquarters of the National Bank, which was destroyed in the earthquake

Budjism - Skopje Old BazarOld Bazar (in Macedonian, Stara Čaršija), is  the largest Bazar in the Balkans outside Instanbul

Budjism - Skopje Warrior on a horse Officially the sculpture’s name is The Warrior on a Horse, but some connect it to Alexander the Great. It is located in the Macedonia Square

Budjism - Skopje Kale FortressKale fortress. Many fortification were built on this place, the oldest dating all the way back to 6th century

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