My stay in Pristina had come to an end and it was time to find a budget-cost way out of this city and then over the final border crossing into country no. 49 for me, the Republic of Macedonia! For this I knew I would have to walk back out from the centre to the extremities and hopefully discover a bus there. To find out the timings, costs and what bus would be carrying me to my destination I visited the website of Balkan Viator.
The bus trip only cost me €5 and took 2 hrs to arrive into Skopje, including the time at the border crossing. As so often the case, the bus station was quite a bit out of the centre and so a walk through the residential housing area was needed, but through this path I took, some very impressive graffiti was on show. One wall of graffiti I came across was that of the group known as ‘Komiti’ (see pic below). They are the ‘Ultras’ of Skopje, mostly supporting the team of FK Vardar.
I began to start seeing the flag of Macedonia dotted around the place, and it is most certainly a unique one, as well as carrying a rather interesting story. As you can see (pic below) the flag is a very bright red and yellow standard depicting a sun casting eight rays off itself. Originally though, this was sixteen rays, portraying the ‘Vergina Sun’. The Macedonians’ use of this symbol on their national flag caused controversy in Greece especially when Macedonia joined several multi-national organisations. The ‘Vergina Sun’ is an ancient Greek symbol, thus the Greeks view it as theirs.
This disagreeing doesn’t stop there, as Greece aren’t too happy about the use of the name ‘Macedonia’. This is the reason why you will so often see ‘FYROM’ (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) rather than just Macedonia. This is due to the original borders of Macedonia exist on Northern Greek territory. I would advise that when in Macedonia, call it Macedonia, and call it FYROM, when in Greece.
On entering the very centre of the city, from the North, you will come up to what I would describe as a Macedonian version of the ‘Arc de Triomphe’ (see pic above). Whence one has gone through the arch you will be very pleasantly exposed to such a wonderful and beautiful square. This is ‘Macedonia Square’ (see pic below).
It has several grand looking white buildings that encircle the square and the huge fountain and statue that sits in the middle. The statue is of possibly Macedonia’s most famous historical figure, Alexander the Great, along with his favourite horse, Bucephalus.
Alexander the Great is often seen as one of the most influential people to have existed and was victorious in all twenty of his battles across the Persian Empire and more. Nineteen of those battles were as King. The Empire of Alexander actually covered over 5.2 million square km which meant it was the largest in that time period and actually larger than the Roman Empire every became.
Skopje and Macedonia was looking very promising already……
NEXT -Skopje (Matka Canyon), Balkan Adventure Part VIII