After a lovely morning at the Rila Monastery we hopped in the car and headed towards Macedonia!
It took an unplanned and ill-prepared for hour and a half to get across the border into non-EU Macedonia and included us having to buy extra car insurance for the rental... but eventually we made it in.
It's all Greek... or um... Macedonian to me! Which reminds me, we brought along our GPS to navigate and instead of trying to say all these street names it just went silent. "Turn left onto." "Turn right onto." "Continue onto." It was funny.
Our destination was the capital city of Macedonia, Skopje. Located on the Vardar river, Skopje is a divided city with a predominately Orthodox Christian half south of the river and a Muslim half to the north. It is a city of many cultures and a complicated history.
After parking we explored a nearby park and saw the Conflict Memorial. There has been an urban renewal program going on that has included the erection of numerous statues, memorials, and monuments.
Just across the street was the Macedonian Parliament building. I love the Macedonian flag.
The Porta Macedonia, a 70 foot tall Triumphal arch erected in 2014. We're not sure if the paint on it was part of a sanctioned public art project or just pretty graffiti. Either way, it was cool looking and we saw it on several monuments throughout the city. Maybe they had just had a city wide paintball fight?
Photo op with the kids!
One of the buildings fronting Macedonia Square.
The square is surrounded by cool restored buildings. Even the Marriott has pretty architecture.
By the river is the massive Museum of Archeology. It just opened last year and also functions as the new home of the country's Supreme Court and the National Archives.
Looking back at Macedonia Square with the massive "Warrior on a Horse" statue in the middle. Despite the official name, it's clear this statue is of Alexander the Great on his famous horse Bucephalus. The obscure title is in deference to the ongoing dispute with Greece over Macedonian history. Even the official name of the country is in dispute. Rather than just being "Macedonia," because of the the issue with Greece over the name, the official name is "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)."
We walked across the bridge and found some dinner at a cute little pizzeria. All this was only about $10. Nice.
North of the river is the old Turkish part of town and is home to a large daily bazaar, mosques, and the remnants of a huge fortress.
Streets in the Čaršija.
Love these colors!
In 1392, Skopje fell under 520 years of Ottoman rule. Those Turkish years are still readily evident in the old city, especially north of the river.
We meandered up through the old town and enjoyed the lovely park below the fortress.
Standing guard above the city is the Kale Fortress.
It's an open access area where you are free to wander the ramparts and enjoy the views over the city. Chris and Fox stood at the end surveying a small part of Alexander the Great's old stomping grounds.
The Church of Sv Dimitri that sits just below the fortress is a 14th century church built in typical Macedonian fashion. The bell tower sits apart from the main church building and was constructed of thick, wooden beams.
Golden hour light illuminating the Mustafa Pasha Mosque. We literally saw 6 or 7 weddings going on around the city as we were walking! Love is in the air.
The statue lined Stiv Naumov bridge.
Funky color painted apartment tower.
Skopje's modern cathedral is an interesting design with a nesting of domes. It was built in the 20th century and almost looks like a mosque at first glance.
Rows of the awesome Macedonian flag!
Our family in Skopje, Macedonia on Saturday October 8th 2016.
Last stop of this trip: Vranje, Serbia!