This is going to be, at least for now, the last article about North Macedonia, referring to my recent trip to the country. I already wrote about some accommodations and restaurants of Skopje, but now I want to focus on some attractions of the city, not all of them well known and valorized. The city became famous in the last years for its new and big monuments spread around the center. The main attractions are big buildings created in neo-classical style and statues high more than a six floors building. The result is a kitsch setting.
It is true that in the ’60s an earthquake destroyed the North Macedonian capital, but they created something that has no connection with the past. Despite the caravels on the river and those new creations, in the city, there are beautiful pearls. The ancient part made by Ottomans keeps a very nice atmosphere with ancient and typical constructions. There are also very interesting and cool museums, maybe to be a bit more valorized and restructured in the spaces, but with a lot of great finds. Let’s proceed with the order.
Church of Ascension of Jesus and Mustafa Pasha Mosque in Skopje
My favorite place in Skopje is the Church of the Ascension of Jesus. It is located on the hill at the top of carsija, the oldest part of the city, close to the fortress and the Mustafa Pasha Mosque. Both of them deserve a visit. The Orthodox church was built in the XVI century and some iconostasis was completed in the XIX century. It is a jewel, with wooden decorations.
It was managed, in the Ottoman Empire period, by Greek domination and then joined Bulgarian Exarchate. Entering the courtyard you can find in a part of the building a small and freshly restored museum. It is about the revolution against Ottomans, going forward you find a door with stairs, to go down, to enter the church. The ticket costs around 2 euros, but it is very interesting.
It is not allowed to take pictures, but the people who take care of it decided to make an exception and said to me that I could take a few pictures. I am happy to share them with you, also because they describe the place better than my words. You can see how rich is the church in terms of art. In my opinion is one of the bests of the country, a fixed stop every time I am in Skopje.
Museum of the City
At the end of Macedonia Street, starting from the monument of Alexander The Great, there is the old railway station that stopped to work after the earthquake. On the facade, you can see a big clock with the hour of the tragedy. Inside the building, restored, there is the Museum of the City of Skopje, with free entrance. There are different sections, but the most interesting to me was the archeological part and the reconstruction of the local life before the earthquake.
Outside and downstairs ancient finds are coming from the different archeological sites of the area. Meanwhile, the ground floor conserves objects coming from the former Yugoslavia before the earthquake. Visitors can also find the ambients of the houses of that time recreated with all the details. It is very interesting. In the building are also hosted some expositions and there is a room where to enjoy the videos about the history of Skopje.
If you want to see more archeological objects you have to visit the National Museum, located on the river. Here some pictures about the Museum of the City.
Museum of Macedonia
A modern communist building located in the Old Bazaar host the Museum of Macedonia, with a big variety of collections. Paintings, frescoes, carpets, and objects coming from different periods and also the guns used during the recent war of Yugoslavia. It is a journey into the history of the country. If you want to see everything, you should, it is necessary to have some hours to explore the different stages.
The chance to see also the models of the ancient houses and the costumes used by the population during the past centuries helps a lot to get into the culture and the steps done in the years. The objects contained in the collections can answer almost any question you can have about the country. During Socialism, the museum was known as the Museum of People and I am sure that was an appropriate name for the building that keeps the memory of the entire life of the population.
Those three places are among my favorites, but I suggest you take a look around the Old Bazaar of Skopje because there are many lovely buildings and places to be visited and also typical bars and restaurants where to seat and taste local food or simply a Turkish tea or coffee. About the accommodations, you can easily find what you prefer, also because there are international hotel chains.
Or you can see my previous posts with the hotels that I tried and that I recommend to you. As well for the restaurants. Go around the city is safe, at any time, but not everywhere people are ready to manage a conversation in English. Don’t worry, they are kind and friendly and they find always the way to be understood and to understand.
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