My journey through the Balkans has been an amazing experience so far. I can’t believe two and a half months have passed since I landed in Sofia in April. Time is going by so fast that I haven’t had time to catch up with my blog. However, I have booked some down days in Bosnia which should allow me share my experiences of Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, and Croatia. I am 12 post behind schedule so please stay tuned.
What has become very clear to me is that I can’t seem to get enough of the Balkans. I love the food, drinks, history, and people. After my visit to Nis, I headed to Pristina, Kosovo. My trip to Pristina was plagued with bus delays, heavy rains, wrong bus stops, and a lot of World Cup watching. I plan on writing about my time in Pristina at a later date. For now, let’s move forward with my visit to Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia.
It had rained heavily the entire time I was in Nis, Kosovo, and also during my stay in Skopje. Undeterred, I arrived at my private apartment, put my things away, freshened up, and went into town. Several travelers that I met the previous weeks told me that Skopje was a bit of a Disneyland attraction. Some said it was filled with fake statues, guady bridges, and plastic architecture. Now that I can pause and look back, the things I heard about Skopje weren’t too far off the mark. However, there was still a lot to see and experience in Skopje.
Old Stone Bridge or Dusan Bridge
Through the rain and wind I was able to get a few photos of Skopje’s Old Stone Bridge; which is a famous landmark of the city. The bridge was built between 1451-1469 on an old Roman foundation. Over the centuries, the bridge has been damaged and repaired many times. During the 1555 earthquake, four pillars were destroyed and during World War II, the Nazis wired the bridge, but the city was liberated by the allies before they could destroy it.*
There are actually several bridges near the Old Stone Bridge that are more modern and Lord of the Rings like. From what I hear, the city of Skopje spared no expense in building up the city. The Art Bridges are littered with decoration and quickly keep the eye very busy.
I have attached a link to an article which discusses the project in more detail.
The Art Bridges have figures sprinkled along the edges. I read a few names, but I had no idea who they were or why they were important. The second Art Bridge has warriors in different poses towering over pedestrians. The warrior bridge is something you would see in a Lord of the Rings movie or Game of Thrones episode.
Sadly, I did feel like many others in the article provided above in that the bridges are a bit over the top. They do not look genuine and I am sure many Macedonians feel they were financially too much as well.
From the bridges I made my way towards Macedonia Square which is under construction. Anyways, there is a huge statue of a Warrior on a Horse in the square that could be a nice model for some photos.
I crossed the Old Stone Bridge and came upon many other statues of horses, the found of Mothers of Macedonia, and the fountain of Philip II of Macedon. Once you cross the bridge, you feel like you’re in Vegas. I was looking for the casinos. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The area is completely overdone. It’s too busy and my eyes couldn’t focus on one thing at a time. I took a few photos before heading to the Old Bazar.
There is also a fortress in Skopje, but the clouds were getting darker and the games were about to start so I headed back to the banks of the Vardar River to find a seat at the Irish Pub to watch Mexico vs Brazil.
As the clouds darkened and a hard rain began to fall, I took a few last photos of other statues and fountains on the banks of the Vardar before seeking the shelter of the Irish pub.
I awoke the next morning to a hard poring rain. This of course impeded my ability to take quality photos so I left the camera back at the apartment and ventured out to the Old Bazaar. Click here for more information OLD BAZAAR.
Soon after returning from the bazaar, I packed up my gear and got back on the road. My next stop would be Ohrid, Macedonia. The journey was one of the most harrowing bus rides of my life. I can’t wait to share my experience in Ohrid.
*sources on the Old Stone Bridge taken from wikipedia and brochures collected at the tourism office.
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