skopje 2017 : the city planners must be drunk
Eclectic. Contradictory. Identity crisis. It's hard to describe the capital of Macedonia. Skopje 2014 was/is an initiative to modernize and give an identity to Skopje. Large structures were planned - some since completed, some still in the works - and statues were seemingly thoughtlessly placed in any available spot. It's as if the universe had some statues for lunch, and bad seafood for dinner - and the streets, bridges, and buildings of Skopje were the victims of this circumstance. I cannot adequately express just how many statues are here - I'm half convinced that there's a statue of me and you unceremoniously placed somewhere downtown.
In addition to the surreal nature of open and completely empty plazas surrounded by modern government buildings pumping Christmas music in the +95F weather of August, the city, like many other Balkan cities, hosts an old Ottoman neighbourhood. Now a lively Turkish bazaar, one can get lost in the winding cobble-stoned streets, relax in a canopied courtyard and sip Turkish tea, or of course shop. The contradictions are not limited to Ottoman versus Western, though. No, no. The Western bits like to contradict themselves with Soviet-era concrete buildings sprinkled in to modern buildings of every architectural style - some so new that they look and feel like the backlot of a Hollywood movie studio.
The charms of Skopje don't end with it's oddities. The sunsets have proven stellar. And we all know of my penchant for a good sunset.