Skopje is the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. It counts today slightly less than 500 000 inhabitants, which is about the the quarter of the total population of the country.
Skopje is situated on the shores of the river Vardar. A huge earthquake destroyed the city in 1963.
Although Skopje in the past never had its current importance, “Skupi” was at the first centuries of the Christian era a significant city of the great Roman empire. The first city was destroyed by the earthquake of 518, but was rebuilt soon, near to the ruins, always close to Vardar, so that at the beginning of the 7th century it was still a significant commercial center. It is for the period of the emperor Justinien of Byzance, that the area of Skopje took importance. The Slavics conquered the city in 695 and gave its name. They became so much unmovable at the end of the 10th century and the beginning of 11th that Skopje became a very active commercial center. In Skopje happened a major event of Serbs history, as emperor Dušan of Serbia was crowned here on April 16, 1346. The Turks conquered the city in 1392 and kept it until 1912. That explains why the cultural and historical monuments of Skopje are mainly related to the Turkish periods. The most impressive monument of Skopje is the stone bridge through Vardar, which was built during the time of the Sultan Muarat I (1421 - 1451). Set up in the middle of a city which had been thus burned and destroyed many times, this bridge with its vaults preserves today its function in the rebuilt city. The Hjumcar mosque, equipped by this sultan, was built at the same time. Unfortunately this beautiful structure took fire, and its original beauty did not survive the restoration. The most beautiful of the mosques of Skopje is today that of Mustafa- Pasha, built in 1492. Among other Turkish monuments of the 15th century, one still notes an art gallery. Its structure is memorable for its nonsymmetrical cupolas and its perfectly preserved interior architecture.
Today, the city is always deeply marked by the earthquake of 1963, which almost entirely destroyed the city and many old monuments. There however remain remarkable sites to visit. The small Saint-Sauveur church (Sveti Spas) of the XVIIth century, holds a remarkable ten meters length and six meters broad iconostase, dated back of 1824. It is a carved wooden support being used as partition, which makes it possible to group the many icons and which separated the furnace bridge from the faithful ones. It evokes scenes of the Bible, as well as the artists, themselves, authorized to represent themselves during their work. Monumental Hamman Daut-Pasa of XVe century is the greatest Turkish bath of the Balkan Peninsula. It currently holds a modern art gallery, as well as a collection of Macedonian icons. The old caravanserai of Kursumli Han dates from XVIth century. It shelters the archaeological Museum, including invaluable parts of Roman, hellenistic, and byzantine time Antiquites, discovered at the time of the excavations of Stobi and Héracléa Lyncestis. One should not miss walking in picturesque commercial old working. Each street belongs to a corporation of craftsmen, and the visitor is invited to traverse the narrow lanes of the bazaar, high in colors.
It's in the suburbs of Skopje, in Šutka, that most of the film Time of the Gypsies occurs. It is the largest gypsy “city” in the world. To impregnate of this milieu, and to meet its inhabitants, Emir Kusturica lived in there for several months in order to write and rewrite the script of the film with Gordan Mihić.