Monday, January 27, 2020

Back in Skopje, North Macedonia

I was back in the Balkans and spent this past weekend in Skopje.  While it was my second time in Skopje it was my first time in North Macedonia.  Greece and Macedonia finally came to an agreement on the name issue and in February 2019, Macedonia became North Macedonia.  I don't think that I get to count this as a new country.

With the name issue sorted, 27 years later, North Macedonia will now be able to move forward with joining NATO and the EU.  

When I was here in 2011 the government had just kicked off its Skopje 2014 project to give the capital a more classical look.  A lot of construction took place and it definitely felt like I was visiting a new city.  Although I think they went a bit overboard on the statues.  Sometimes less is more.

The "Alexander the Great" monument had been erected to celebrate the countries 20 years of independence from Yugoslavia.  Today, it is known as the "Warrior on a Horse".  It's still huge and cost €7,5 million.

There's now the Warrior monument and fountain.  Many believe that it is supposed to represent Philip II of Macedon.  The statue is 15 meters (49 feet) tall and it was unveiled in 2012.  It cost about €2 million.

The Museum of Archaeology also houses the Constitutional Court and the National Archives.  Construction cost over €7 million.  The bridge leading to the museum, with its 28 sculptures cost another €2,5 million.

The new Saints Cyril and Methodius statue was only €540.000.

There's now a triumphal arch called the Porta Macedonia that commemorates the long struggle for Macedonian independence.  It was opened to the public in 2012 and cost an estimated €4,5 million.

A statue went up in front of the parliament building that cost €715.000.

Across from the parliament is Žena Borec Park which got several monuments.  The Defenders of Macedonia cost around €300.000

The monument for the Anti-Fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM) was €1,9 million.

The statue of the Founders of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization cost €1,2 million.

The Fallen Heroes of Macedonia memorial is home to an eternal flame.  This one cost €2,3 million.

The statue of Pitu Guli was a bargain because it was just €118.000.

The Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Statehood and Independence opened in 2011.  The cost of the museum was around €10 million.

The statue of Karposh, the rebellion leader cost €540.000.

The Macedonian National Theatre replaced the former one which was destroyed in the 1963 earthquake that levelled the city.  Reconstruction of the theatre actually began in 2007.  The cost of reconstruction has been estimated to have been between €6 million and €30 million.

The Boatmen of Thessaloniki, also known as the Assassins of Salonica, cost €970.000.

The marble monument of Justinian I was unveiled in 2011.  It cost over €1 million.

Four boats have been permanently built into the riverbed of the Vardar River.  The boats are used for restaurants and cafes.

The Holocaust Memorial Centre for the Jews of Macedonia is a memorial for the 7.148 Macedonian Jews who perished in WWII.

The city purchased 202 double-decker buses for its transportation system.  Who knows what that must have cost?

It's not like the city didn't have any monuments before.  I did come across an old statue of Tito.

This whole Skopje 2014 project was massive.  Something like 136 structures were built at a cost well over €800 million.  It's amazing to me that the country spent so much on this.  It's not like this isn't the 6th poorest country in Europe.

Update:  Here's a video I found out on YouTube that talks about the money spent on Skopje 2014.

©Journeyman Pictures

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