If you’re into large and somewhat overbearing/brand new statues, then Skopje is the place for you! Also, if you’ve visited this city more than 5 years ago, you can return and you’ll find an entirely new city at your disposal!
In July 2011, Skopje unveiled a 22-meter tall statue of Alexander the Great, surrounded by a fountain.
This cost around 7.5 million but it was only the beginning. The Skopje mayor was so happy with how it turned it that he decided to borrow 300 million more from the IMF and World Bank. Skopje invested these funds into the city during the course of 2014. Here are a few of the other statues littering the city.
It is without a doubt a pretty controversial and confusing project. Most citizens are outraged that the government is spending money they don’t have on statues when people can’t find adequate jobs. The opposing view assumes that the tourist money generated from ‘beautifying’ the city will pay off in the long run. I think it will be very interesting to see how the city of Skopje looks in 50 years.
Pretty much every type of statue you can imagine is in Skopje. They even built some type of pirate ship to dock in the shallow river running through town.
On another note, Skopje is also the birthplace of Mother Teresa. They have a memorial site for her located in the centre of town.
Also, for those of you who don’t know where Macedonia is located (I didn’t either), it is bordered by 6 countries. Greece is south, Albania and Montenegro are west and northwest respectively, Kosovo and Serbia are to the north, and Bulgaria is east of Macedonia. It is a pretty central location in the area and Skopje works as a type of hub for many of the big cities nearby.
Macedonia was also the only country in the former Yugoslavia to achieve independence without a civil war (in 1991). However, they did have a conflict 10 years later between ethnic Albanians and the Macedonian population but it was relatively small in comparison to other battles in the region.
Overall, Skopje was a little disappointing. The city just doesn’t have a whole lot of authenticity to it and the amount of construction going on throughout the city puts a bit of a damper on everything. Compared to the other former Yugoslav capital cities, it’s definitely quite a bit more modern. However, I’m not so sure this is a positive thing..
Nevertheless, maybe in 20 years Skopje will fulfill it’s dream and become the tourist capital of the Balkans. Only time will tell!