Macedonia - A Land of Contrasts
On the Vardar
The City and the River
The Vardar River runs through Skopje, dividing the old part that survived the 1963 earthquake from the new. This view looks towards Ploshtad ['square']Makedonija.
To the left is the main shopping center full of wonderful cafes that come life at night, particularly when it is warm enough to sit outside! For a city of half a million or so Skopje is a small town. You *always* run into someone you know!
A few facts: Macedonia is a landlocked republic situated between Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece. It became independent in 1991 as the former Yugoslavia was breaking up. Despite a large [at least 25%] Albanian minority Macedonia has remained relatively peaceful among the other Balkan disasters. But they are caught between the politics, interests and varying strengths of their neighbors. Issues include borders [Serbia], the country's name [Greece] and language [Bulgaria].
The Old Train Station
In 1963 a devastating earthquake hit Skopje, then still a part of Yugoslavia. Although many building were torn down in the haste to rebuild, the damaged facade of the train station [with the clock stopped at the time the quake struck], was left as a memorial. Behind the facade now is The City Museum of Skopje. The mountain behind the museum is Vodno, the site of Panteleimon monastery church.
Down the street to the right [just before Hotel Bristol] is the office of the news agency where I sometimes work as a translation advisor when I am in Skopje. I was working there the week that led up to the NATO bombing of Serbia and Kosovo. The 24th of March was particularly tense.
The mother of the Reuters correspondent was going out to buy flour, oil and salt - an older person's response to potential adversity. Mircela said she didn't know why - her mother had some left over from the last crisis! The airport closed, so I ended up taking a train to Greece and then wandered home via Vienna and Zurich.
Much of Skopje was rebuilt after the 1963 earthquake, whether it needed it or not! Many nations designed and contributed buildings. The white "whale" is the National Theatre from that time.
This picture was taken from Fort Kale. The red roof on the left is of a small shopping center in the older part of Skopje. The white domes immediately to the right are of Daut Pasha aman. [see entry on Old Skopje]
More of New Skopje
This view looks towards the Post Office with the far end of Vodno mountain in the distance. *I* think the post office looks like a 50's vision of a space station. It was designed, as many of the new buildings were, by Slovenian architects as a gift to their [then] fellow Yugoslav republic.
Note: be careful with taxi drivers in trying to speak Macedonian! The word for "square" [ploshtad] can sound like the one for "post office" [posta] from the mouth of a non-native speaker. Fortunately they aren't very far apart!