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Arriving in Skopje

Foreword
A city of immense contrasts and an almost audible clashing of cultures, Skopje’s rich and diverse history dates back
at least six millennia. Home to the Romans, Bulgarians, Ottomans, Communists and other dubious colonisers over the
centuries, despite a catastrophic earthquake that flattened
huge swathes of the city as recently as 1963, Skopje retains
much of its original charm despite the best efforts of the
Japanese architect Kenzō Tange to asphyxiate the city with
concrete during its reconstruction. A city in which it’s almost
impossible to find bad food and where you’ll discover a 12thcentury church that literally (or rather figuratively) changed
the course of Western art, Skopje’s now reachable from more
locations than ever with the local airport handling not one
but two of Europe’s leading low cost airlines. Oh, and should
you ever find yourself in the unlikely situation of getting tired
of the place, we’ve also thrown in a couple of handy guides
to the spectacular leisure and culture capitals of Ohrid and
Bitola for good measure. Enjoy.

coveR StoRy
Unveiled in 2013 as part of the
city’s Skopje 2014 project, Vasil
Chekalarov Monument sits on
the roundabout opposite Skopje’s
Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral
(see p. 22). The work of Elena and
Darko Dukovski, the statue celebrates the ‘cruel but competent
general’ Vasil Chekalarov (18741913), an infamous revolutionary figure and one of the
leaders of the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organisation. Read more about Skopje 2014 on

E S S E N TI A L
C I TY G U I D E S

Publisher
Skopje in Your Pocket
Bul. K.J. Pitu 15-1/3 1000 Skopje, Macedonia
Tel. +389 75 450 250
macedonia@inyourpocket.com
macedonia.inyourpocket.com
Director Vladimir Stefanovski
vladimir.stefanovski@inyourpocket.com
Editorial
Managing Editor Sco
Contributor Jeroen van Marle
Design Mateja Štruc
Photography Richard Schofield, Stobi Winery (p.16),
Fly Ohrid (p.32)
Cover Photo Vasil Chekalarov Monument (©2017 Richard
Schofield)
Sales & Circulation
Antoanela Petrovic, Snezana Stefanovska, Ivica Slavkovic
Printed by Data Pons (www.datapons.com.mk)
Circulation 20,000 copies, two times per year
Copyright notice
Text and photographs copyright Skopje in Your Pocket. All rights
reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any
form, except brief extracts for the purpose of review, without
written permission from the publisher and copyright owner. The
brand name In Your Pocket is used under license from UAB In
Your Pocket, Bernardinų 9-4, Vilnius, Lithuania, tel. +370 5 212
29 76.

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Arriving at Kenzō Tange’s train station

By Plane
Some 22 kilometres east of the city, Skopje Alexander the
Great Airport is small and easy to use. After disembarking
and entering the main terminal building, follow the signs
until you reach passport control where you’ll be confronted with a row of booths currently offering four options,
namely All Passports, Citizens, MK Citizens and EU Citizens.
Once you’ve figured out who you are, passport checks are
generally relaxed and friendly. The Arrivals and Departures
halls are in the same building and share a range of facilities including ATMs, currency exchange, and information
desk and a few shops and cafés. Getting to town A taxi
to the city centre should cost around 900den or €15 (payable in either currency) and the journey takes less than 30
minutes. To the right of the exit, the Vardar Ekspres bus
leaves approximately eight times a day. The fare is currently
175den and the bus stops at Capitol Mall, the bus/train station and the Holiday Inn hotel right in the centre of the city.
By BuS
All international and long-distance buses arrive at Skopje’s
reasonably central bus station just east of the centre on
the southern side of the river. Inside, find ATMs, a couple
of small shops selling sweets, drinks and cigarettes and a
handful of windows and kiosks for buying onward tickets.
Getting to town It’s possible to walk to the city centre in
about 15 minutes, or take bus N°23, which runs along Bul.
Kuzman Josifovski Pitu. Taxis (and taxi drivers) can be found
congregating outside the main entrance/exit. A ride into
the centre shouldn’t cost more than 100den. If in doubt,
negotiate a price before getting in the vehicle.
By car
Arriving in Skopje by car can be stressful and confusing for
first timers, especially for those who’ve never experienced
the miscellaneous idiosyncrasies of Balkan-style driving. Although major signs are written in both Cyrillic and
Latin, there are few visual hints as to what might be the
city centre, and the somewhat bewildering system of one-

way streets only adds to the pandemonium. The arrival of
Sat Nav has drastically improved matters, and if you’re arriving in a rental car it’s worth checking to make sure it’s
equipped with one. A couple of highways leading into
the city require a small toll fee to be paid. Accordingly, it’s
highly recommended to be carrying some cash as foreign
currency and credit cards aren’t accepted.
By train
All trains arrive at Skopje’s one and only train station, an interesting concrete construction designed by the Japanese
architect Kenzō Tange to replace the building destroyed by
the 1963 earthquake. Sadly in a state of serious disrepair
and containing almost nothing in the way of facilities, if
you need money, drink, food or cigarettes you’ll need to
use the services at the adjoining bus station. The connecting door between the two is often locked, in which case it’s
necessary to leave via the main exit and snake left around
the building. Getting to town See Arriving by bus (above).

when to go
Macedonia, a small country by anyone’s standards, can
claim a total of three very different climates, namely
changed Mediterranean, mountainous and mildly
continental. Average temperatures vary considerably
depending on where you are, with much of the country receiving blissfully long and hot summers with relatively mild and wet winters and other parts such as the
mountains suffering from long snowy winters and the
briefest of chilly summers. At an altitude of 240m, Skopje becomes unbearably hot during much of July and
August, one of the many reasons why Ohrid, at 693m,
is so popular during the summer. If you’re not coming
to ski or lay on a sun bed, we recommend visiting in
late May when the spring flowers are in full bloom and
the temperature is pleasantly warm.
July – December 2017

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