The name of the capital of Macedonia evokes memory of the terrible earthquake which in 20 seconds an the 26th of July, 1963, transformed it into. a heap of ruins (1100 dead, 4000 injured, 80 % of housing damaged). Contemporaries think only of 1963, but historians remind us of 518, when an earthquake destroyed Roman Skopje (Skupi); they point to an earthquake – the one in 1535, which devastated it when the city had developed as one of the mast important centres of European Turkey (Uskup), and of yet another earthquake which is recorded in recent times -.that of 1903. And when we add to. this the devastations of war and fire, then it is clear that we are speaking of a city which is virtually indestructible. Such devastation, so many tears and so much blood – and so. much human determination and will to live!
Situated an a bank of the Vardar, which flaws toward the Aegean Sea, and on the intersection of two. important routes, of which one leads through the Kačanik Gorge to. Metohija, and the other through the Kumanovo-Preševo Valley toward the Morava River region, Skopje has played and does play too important a role for it to be discouraged by a single earthquake, however catastrophic.
Born as a trade centre in the course of its mast recent development Skopje has became an important industrial centre. The importance of Skopje is even more enhanced by the fact that it is the political, economic and cultural centre, of the, Macedonian people.
Although never in its history has Skopje had its present importance, its Classical predecessor, Skupi, was in the first centuries of the Christian era an important city of the great Roman Empire. The very name Skupi informs linguists of its Illyrian founders. This first flowering of the city was destroyed by the earthquake of 518, but the city was soon reborn, admittedly a short distance from the ruins, but again beside the Vardar, so. that at the beginning of the seventh century it was again an important trading centre. This was the time of the Byzantine emperor Justinian, who. was barn in the Skopje region.
The Slavs conquered the city in 695 and gave it its present name. They became so. firmly entrenched that in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries – in the time of the Emperor Samuil – Skopje figures as a very active trading centre.
With Skopje is linked an important and major event in the history of the Serbian people, far the Serbian Emperor Dušan was crowned here an April 16, 1346. The Turks conquered the city in 1392 and held it in their hands until 1912. This alone indicates that Skopje’s cultural and historical monuments are predominantly from Turkish times.
The mast impressive cultural and historical monument of Skopje is the stone bridge across the Vardar, which was built in the time of Sultan Murat I (1421-1451). Erected In the middle of a city which had been so many times burned and destroyed, this stone bridge with its arches has retained its original form and even today performs its function in the network of the restored city. The Hjumčar mosque, endowed by the above-mentioned sultan, was built at the same time. Unfortunately, this beautiful structure has twice suffered from fire, and its original beauty has not survived restoration. The most beautiful among the Skopje mosques today is that of Mustafa-paša, built in 1492. Among other Turkish monuments mention must be made of the Daut-paša hamam from the 15th century, which today houses an art gallery. This structure is memorable for its non-symmetrically placed cupolas and its well-preserved interior architecture. The Kuršumli-han, built in the 15th and 16th centuries as a caravansery, today houses the lapidarium of the Skopje Archeological Museum.
Particularly interesting is the church of the Holy Savior, in which there is a carved altarpiece from the beginning of the 19th century: it is the work of the Debar woodcarvers Petar and Marko Filipovski and of Makarije Frčkovski.
Archeological excavations tell us that the Skopje fortress, Kale, was the centre of a settlement from Neolithic to Byzantine and Turkish times. Today it at. tracts visitors for its unique view. At the northern end of the city one can see 54 arches of a former aqueduct, built in the second half of the 14th century.
Map of Skopje
Published on: 06.04.2011