Skopje, the Macedonian birthplace of Mother Teresa
Skopje is the capital city of the Republic of Macedonia, which is bordered by Greece, Albania, Kosovo and Bulgaria. It is a place with a dramatic past, having been occupied by Bulgarians, Ottomans and Yugoslavs in its 4,000-year history. The city, which lies on the Vardar River, is home to 500,000 people. It has been the victim of an earthquake which destroyed much of old Skopje, with the exception of the Turkish old town; the city now features many concrete buildings, which are functional, rather than aesthetically pleasing. Due to political unrest in certain areas of Macedonia, travelers are urged to seek travel advice from their Foreign Office before making any arrangements.
Explore the roots of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mother Teresa: the Memorial House is but one of many locations dedicated to her memory. Go to Skopje to experience a fascinating blend of Islamic and Christian heritage; see the Millennium Cross, at 66m tall it is the world’s biggest Christian Cross.
When to go?
In the summer Skopje temperatures are usually above 30°C; in the spring and autumn, it’s usually around 20°C; winter daytime temperatures can drop to freezing and there is a fair amount of rain and snow between October and December and between April and June. In May, enjoy an Opera Evening or the Youth Theatre Festival; in October, head for the Jazz Festival. The Cultural Summer Festival includes a Blues and Soul event in July.
How to get there?
Skopje Alexander the Great Airport (SKP) lies 20km west of the city, with taxis providing the main link. Skopje can also be reached by train from Serbia and Greece.
Skopje’s emblematic Stone Bridge was built in 1469 and spans the River Vardar with some majesty. Sitting atop the town is the grand Kale Fortress, which affords wonderful views for travellers. Visit the Old Bazaar, the biggest in the Balkans, where you’ll find that the main art galleries have been adapted from old Turkish Baths. The finest of the city’s mosques is probably Mustafa Pasha Mosque, featuring beautiful calligraphy and artwork. The Kursumli An, a former Turkish Inn, is also worth a visit, with its many arches and domes. The Byzantine Church of St Panteleimon in nearby Gorno Nerezi, dates from 1164 and is famous for its beautiful frescoes.
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