Skopje, the capital city of the Republic of Macedonia is also the largest city in the country, as well as the political, cultural, economic, and academic center. Sitting in the center of the Balkan Peninsula, the capital has experienced Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman rule, over time. This rich and diverse history is easily noticeable if you look at the city’s architecture and famous sites, including the symbolic 15th-century Stone Bridge, which connects the Ottoman Old Bazaar to the southern part of the city.
From cultural and historical places of interest to outdoor activities, this article features 10 great activities to do around the vibrant city of Skopje.
1. Stone Bridge
Crossing the Vardar River the Stone Bridge (also known as the Dušan Bridge) is considered the most outstanding symbol of Skopje. This 214 meters (702 feet) long stone blocks construction was erected back in the 15th century, during the time of the rule of Sultan Mehmed II. Situated in the central square covering two banks of Vardar river, the bridge divides Skopje into two different parts: the “Western European” left bank and the “Oriental” right bank area of the city. Crossing the bridge is like walking through time and space and will give you a synthesis of Oriental and European flavors of the capital.
Address: Stone Bridge, Skopje 1000, Macedonia (FYROM)
2. Millennium Cross
One of the most noticeable sights in Macedonia, the 66-metre (217 foot) tall Millennium Cross is situated at the highest point of Vodno Mountain, near Skopje. Built in 2002, in commemoration of the 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia and throughout the world, the impressive structure stands at 1,066 metres (3,497 feet) above sea level, if you include the mountain and features a stunning view of the surroundings.
Since September 8th, 2008, Macedonia’s day of independence, visitors have been visiting the peak, using an elevator built for the occasion. If you’re looking for a mesmerizing panorama of the capital, this is the place to go.
Address: Vodno Mountain, 1000, Macedonia (FYROM)
Website: Milennium Cross
3. Museum of Macedonia
The Museum of Macedonia is one of the oldest museums in the country and it is also the biggest, since three former museums were joined together, to form a new one. Featuring archaeological, historical, ethnological and artistic collections, you can walk along the great history of the country, while enjoying a vast range of exhibition, with roughly 66,000 items.
From the Neolithic Age, passing through the Hellenic Period until the Byzantine and Turkish Periods, you’ll realize how diverse and rich the history of the country truly is. And you won’t only learn about history here, visitors can also access several temporary and permanent exhibitions, featuring other examples of what makes Macedonia a unique country. This is a truly recommended cultural attraction!
Museum of Macedonia
Address: Kjurchiska, Skopje 1000, Macedonia (FYROM)
Website: Museum of Macedonia
4. Museum of the City of Skopje
Founded in 1949, this old train station, damaged by a deadly earthquake on July 27th, 1963, now hosts permanent еxhibitions, representing the history of the city. You’ll be amazed to discover the age of the capital, by looking at pieces from settlements dating back to 3000 BC. Across the four departments of the museum, in themes that include archaeology, ethnology, history and art history, you’ll learn about Skopje in a totally different way.
Museum of the City of Skopje
Address: Ss Cyril & Methodius, Skopje 1000, Macedonia (FYROM)
Website: Museum of the City of Skopje
5. Museum of the Macedonian Struggle
Another great place to learn about the history of the country is the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Sovereignty and Independence, also known as the Museum of VMRO or the Museum of the Victims of the Communist Regime. Opened officially on the 20th anniversary of the declaration of independence of the country, on September 8th, 2011, this mammoth building, at 6,435 square metres (69,265 square feet), is located in the same area of the other sites of interest.
Moving through time from the beginning of the resistance movement against Ottoman rule, until the declaration of independence from Yugoslavia on September 8th, 1991, the 13 exhibitions here will tell you about you the rich and intense story of the Macedonian fight for liberation, unification and the creation of an independent Macedonian state. Finish your visit at the feet of the original declaration of the proclamation of independence of the Republic of Macedonia - this museum is a great testimony of the country’s culture and values.
Museum of the Macedonian Struggle
Address: 11-ти Март 11 March, Skopje 1000, Macedonia (FYROM)
Website: Museum of the Macedonian Struggle
6. Skopje Zoo
Looking for a family-friendly thing to do? The Skopje Zoo, with its 300 animals, representing around 85 species, is a big 12-hectare (30-acre) zoo, located in Gradski Park, in Skopje and it will please everyone, kids and adults alike! In a renovated and nature-similar ecosystem, visitors will enjoy getting close to the animals. This is a beautiful animal oasis, close to the city park and it’s also a nice place for a bite to eat and just enjoy being close to the fauna and flora, in a peaceful atmosphere.
Address: Boulevard Ilinden, Skopje 1000, Macedonia (FYROM)
Website: Skopje Zoo
7. Contemporary Art Museum of Macedonia
Built after Skopje’s devastating 1963 earthquake, the Contemporary Art Museum of Macedonia is one of the largest and most complete national institutions in the Republic of Macedonia. Its international collections, reflecting modern art from almost all parts of the world, features works of Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, Pierre Soulages, Alberto Burri, André Masson and many other famous artists.
The museum also displays national artists and shows great examples of modern Macedonian art, in the second half of the building. You’ll enjoy the richness of its collections but also the temporary major exhibitions and events, including discussions with artists, panels, film and video presentations, and lectures.
Contemporary Art Museum of Macedonia
Address: Samoilova bb, Skopje, 1000, Macedonia (FYROM)
Website: Contemporary Art Museum of Macedonia
8. Skopje Aqueduct
The Skopje Aqueduct is one of three of the largest and best-preserved aqueducts and archaeological sites in the Balkans and it’s located in the village of Vizbegovo, 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) northwest of Skopje. There are many assumptions surrounding the date of its construction and it is said to have been built either during the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire or even the Ottoman Empire, no one can precisely tell how old this structure is. Nonetheless, the aqueduct has, for a long time, brought water to Skopje from the Lavovec Spring, 9 kilometres (5.6 miles) northwest, in the mountains. You’ll be amazed by the overall length the massive structures and all 388 metres (1305 feet) still stands today, as it was, ages ago.
Address: Skopje 1000, Macedonia (FYROM)
Website: Skopje Aqueduct
9. Lake Matka
Around 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) southwest of Skopje, the Matka area might be one of the most beautiful regions of Macedonia. Giving visitors a spectacular experience, Matka Lake is the oldest artificial lake in the country and Treska Canyon, nearby, is a gorge full of mediaeval buildings, including churches, monasteries and settlements of the former Matka fortress, which still remain proudly as a testimony of the country’s rich history.
In addition to these highlights, this place is also known to host dozens of caves, such as the Vrelo, Krshtalna and the Ubava and many stalagmites, stalactites, dripstone pillars, rocky walls and cliffs, making the area the most important alpine climbing centre in northern Macedonia and a top-ranked spot for kayaking, cycling and for other outdoor sports.
Address: Village Matka 1000, Macedonia (FYROM)
Website: Lake Matka
10. Old Bazaar
Skopje also features the largest bazaar in the Balkans, outside Istanbul. As one of the oldest and largest marketplaces in the Balkans during Ottoman rule, the Old Bazaar is now a protected national landmark and an illustration of old times, with its 30 mosques, caravanserais, hans and other magnificent buildings displaying Byzantine architecture.
It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Skopje and is situated on the eastern bank of the Vardar River, stretching from the Stone Bridge to the Bit-Pazar, so you’ll easily have access to the area within a short walk. This is a “must do” while discovering Skopje!
Address: Skopje 1000, Macedonia (FYROM)
Website: Old Bazaar
Have a stunning experience in the Macedonian Capital!
With these 10 best things to do in the capital of Skopje, your Macedonian trip will be full of diverse and great experiences! From its history as seen in its museums to its beautiful monuments, the city and its surrounding areas will make you fall in love with the country!
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