SOAKING IN THE CITY: 1 View of Skopje from the Kale Fortress 2 A glimpse of Matka Canyon & 4 Old Town sights 5 & 6 Some of the many statues that sprang up as part of the Skopje makeover 7 Silver jewellery on display at the Old Market Turkish tea help erase every trace of socialism during Yugoslavia. Despite the huge costs of reshaping the otherwise modernist city ( rebuilt after the 1963 earthquake), the idea worked and today the Macedonia Square is a hub for tourists and residents alike, boasting of museums, government buildings and National Theatre restructured in baroque style. Clearly, rebuilding is Macedonia’s specialty.
I was particularly fascinated by one statue — of a giant horseman, which, I was told, was the ‘ Warrior on a Horse’ ( also called ‘ Alexander the Great’ in hushed tones). A fountain and water- spouting lions surrounding the base of this statue completed the magnificent creation. I wasn’t sure what it was meant to represent, but it was impressive alright… that and the 40 other monuments and sculptures installed around. Here, cafes and restaurants abound — packed to capacity, buzzing with a very positive energy, the kind that is endearing. The area buzzes with nightlife; it’s also a hot spot for shopaholics as the city’s two biggest malls are located in the vicinity.
I walked down the road directly in front of this statue till I came across the Memorial House of Mother Teresa. The Saint of Calcutta was born here — in a small house in Skopje, although she was of Albanian ethnicity. Macedonians are very proud of this fact, generous in saying that “Mother Teresa belongs to the world.”
Being a recently converted enthusiast of European history, I