Skopje (pron: sko-pyeh) is the capital of the Republic of Macedonia and is the largest and most diverse city in the country. The city population is between 500,000-660,000. The 26th of July 1963 is one of the worst dates in the history of Skopje. An earthquake struck the city at 5:17AM. 75% of the buildings in the city disappeared in just a few seconds. After that, the big rebuilding project began, trying to make Skopje the model city of the socialist world. The plan was drawn by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, who also designed the new railway station.
Skopje has been ruled by many different nations and armies since its foundation. This is evidenced by the architecture and monuments left; several Byzantine churches and monasteries around the city, also by a few Roman sites, such as Scupi and Skopje’s Aqueduct. However, the group that left the greatest mark on Skopje were the Ottomans. The Ottomans ruled Macedonia for hundreds of years and built a large number of mosques and other buildings. Cross the River Vardar via the 15th century Stone Bridge to an area dominated by a massive fortress. Stretching underneath is the old Turkish bazaar. In its bustling cobblestone alleys, you will find ancient mosques, former baths that have been converted into art galleries and tiny shops selling intricate silver filigree jewelry made by local craftsmen.