Author: Robert Smileski

Skopje, Macedonia – August 1999


Greetings from Skopje – the capital of a new, but yet very old European country – The Republic of Macedonia.

Because of the fact that Macedonia has been known in the past as Catena Mundi (i.e. the link between the worlds), Skopje also has always been on the crossroads between the East and the West, the Mediterranean and Continental Europe, thus being always in close reach of the trends happening in Europe and Asia.

The melding of Mediterranean and Slavic cultures, and of Orthodox Christianity with Islam, has produced a fascinating culture and a uniquely distinct city and country.

Skopje and Macedonia are nestled in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula and , as you can well imagine, the living here could be very difficult and frustrating. However, for those with wider horizons and strong will – it could be a real challenge!

The culture itself is as diverse as the people living here and therefore everyone can find something that matches his/her character and background. Despite the problems with economy, Skopje lives with the rhythm of the new time. The millenia-long history is complemented by the modern technological achievements of today’s world. Skopje managed to have its own recognisable culture, which it keeps and enriches as one of the significant segments of its identity.

Summer in Skopje

During the long and hot summers, the Macedonian capital has its “Skopje Summer” (Skopsko leto in Macedonian), which is a multimedia project with characteristics of a festival. Its activities are wide, diverse and last a long time. There are a large number of artists, groups and ensembles involved. Among them are plenty of international fame, even in these days of unrest in the Balkans. For example, this summer so far we have had concerts by the Temptations, Blues Wire and Tolo Marton Trio.

What follows in August is the rest of the “Skopje Summer” Festival, including concerts of classical music with some guests from Cyprus and the concert of a very good folk ensemble, “Koco Racin”, on the quay of the river Vardar under the ancient Stone Bridge. They perform dances from different areas in Macedonia. The last event of that festival will be the concert of the Chamber Orchestra of MMM in the old city (Kurshumli Ann to be more precise). For more information on these events, you can send an e-mail to

Apart from the concerts, during the whole summer there is a presentation of movies that were previously shown in-between the period of the last summer in 2 cinemas (Kultura and Paradiso).

In closing, I just wanted to underline that a visit to Skopje and Macedonia means also a journey to a very special world full of medieval monasteries, crystal blue lakes and high virgin mountains, timeworn Turkish bazaars, Orthodox churches, mosques and archaeological sites and yet space-age shopping centres!

Skopje’s old Oriental bazaar district is the largest and most colourful of its kind left in Europe.

Skopje is also the hometown of some individuals whose lives made a huge impact in the world’s history; the Roman emperor Justinian or The Mother Theresa to mention a couple. The house in which Mother Theresa was born was destroyed, as well as other houses, in the big earthquake that struck on July 26th 1963 and nearly wiped Skopje from the face of the earth. However, the place is now marked and can be seen almost in the centre of the city on the central square.

So, fellow adventurers hungering around the globe in search of challenges, encounters, mind-widening and spirit-tempering journeys, I invite you to undertake an unforgettable rediscovery of a forgotten city of Skopje and the unknown land of Macedonia.

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Skopje by night

Ohridska Kukja