Thursday, March 15, 2007


I just came back from Macedonia, where I attended an event on Saturday and the Bureau meeting on Monday and Tuesday. It was my third visit to this Balkan country and to its capital Skopje, but it was the first time that I managed to visit the city and even a bit of the country. Skopje is the largest city of Macedonia, with more than a quarter of the population of the country. It has been known since the Roman period on, but its modern development started only after the end of World War II, when Macedonia became one of the six republics of the Yugoslav federation. This trend was interrupted on 26 July 1963, when it was hit by a disastrous earthquake which killed 1000 people and destroyed 80% of the city, including numerous cultural monuments. Today’s Skopje tourist attractions include the Fort Kale, built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 5th century, the Mustapha Pasha’s Mosque and the Stone Bridge in the city square (15th century). With a population of around 500,000 inhabitants, Skopje is a multiethnic city with a big Albanian minority and important groups of Roma, Serbs, Turks and Bosnians. It is also full of nice cafes, beautiful people and very good radio stations! But Macedonia is not only Skopje. On Sunday I went to Ohrid, a city on the eastern shore of the blue and transparent waters of the lake with the same name, southwest of Skopje and very close to Albania. Since 1980, both the city and the lake are listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO, for both natural and cultural reasons. Apart from the natural beauty, Ohrid is known for its important ecclesiastical and cultural history: the city is credited as being the birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet, which was most probably created by St. Clement of Ohrid, the first Bulgarian archbishop, based on the previous works by St. Cyril in the 9th century. The tourist attractions of the small yet beautiful city include the Church of St. Sophia (with beautiful frescoes from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries), the Church of St. Panteleimon (St. Clement’s monastery), and the Church of St. John of Kaneo (built and fresco painted in the 13th century, its location is one of the most beautiful on the shore of Lake Ohrid). The vestiges of basilicas from the early Christian times, the Tsar Samuil’s fortress and the Antique Theatre are also worth a visit. Some 30km south of Ohrid, near the Albanian border, the monastery founded in the year 900 by St. Naum of Ohrid is among the most popular destinations in Macedonia. The beautiful setting between the lake and the mountains makes it worth a visit. Back to Skopje, it wouldn’t be fair not to mention the outrageous gigantic Millennium Cross on the pick of the mountain Vodno, which due to its light can be seen from 30km distance. The mountain itself offers a wonderful view over the city and the region of Skopje and it is well known as a place used by couples of young people to eat burek and yoghurt late in the night… Mark and Pedro stayed for some well deserved days of holidays and I am sure that they will have a great time in Macedonia!


Blogger Pedro said...

Updating your info with the other side of Ohrid, the night: great fun, from a very nice Blues and Jazz Club, with live music (next to Hotel Riviera) and the Cuba Livre (next to St. Sophia Church), a regular bar with two major qualities: open until late (as late as you get in Ohrid) and a great DJ, Jimmy (judging the quality of the radios, I guess you can imagine it). Ah, and very nice restaurants, like Belvedere and Dalga (where I had the best trout soup ever)...

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


É tão raro encontrar alguém que esteve na Macedónia que só por isso tinha que escrever!!

Estive lá em Agosto e acabei por encontrar lá alguns portugueses. Em Stobi, por exemplo, antiga cidade romana com antecedentes na época de Alexandre, o Grande.


12:34 AM  

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