Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), has a rich and diverse history that's echoed in the huge variety of architecture seen throughout the city. Byzantine churches sit alongside the Roman-era aquaduct and the red brick Saat Kula clock tower, which probably dates back to the 1500s. The Kale Fortress is an omnipresent fixture in the Skopje skyline, watching over the city from up high over the Vardar River.
Skopje was originally founded in the third century BCE by the Paeonians, and it's been a centre of power and finance ever since. Much of the city was destroyed in a 1963 earthquake and then rebuilt, resulting in the city's striking old-meets-new feel. Whether you're making a fleeting visit to Macedonia or planning on staying a while, Skopje is filled with secrets and delights waiting to be discovered.
Apart from sightseeing and exploring the many important historical landmarks, another great way to get to know Skopje is by finding all the iconic monuments and statues. You simply can't miss the 80-foot-tall "Warrior on a Horse" monument on the south end of Stone Bridge, which is typically thought to depict Alexander the Great. Other gems include the bronze Charging Bull (almost identical to the one in Manhattan's Financial District), and the seemingly random bronze figures dotted around the city.
The Old Bazaar, on the east bank of the Vardar River, is a true relic of Skopje's historic past, and it positively buzzes with life. Visit the many shops selling jewelry, textiles and food - and be prepared to haggle!
Not far away is the Bit Pazaar, Skopje's largest green market. Keep an eye out for low-cost fresj fruits and vegetables as well as local cheese, flowes and spices.
When you feel like escaping city life in Skopje, hop on the 60 bus to Lake Matka, a gorgeous canyon surrounded by the brightest green mountains. Be sure to book a boat tour ($7) across the lake and Treska River, which concludes with a cave visit. You can also hike around the six kilometres of trails within Matka Canyon. Breathe in that fresh mountain air!