It was evening when I arrived at Skopje and by the time I had made my way from the hostel to the city center, it had gotten dark. First time in Macedonia and I didn’t really know what to expect. But I definitely didn’t expect the center of the town to remind me of my time in Las Vegas.
Water fountains everywhere, but none of the simple kind, but those trick fountains with moving cascades of water, lighted in changing colors. Statues between them, enormous and brightly lit. And then the music from loudspeakers, in attempted harmony with the trick fountains. But it can’t keep up because there are around 20 of these water fountains in sight of each other, on both sides of the river, on the bridges across the river and – I never thought this was possible and I still don’t think it makes sense – water fountains in the river.
Staggering through this kitschy festival of light, marble, gold and music for an hour or two, I couldn’t hold back from laughing. It was too much, too out of place, too artificial. Nobody could take it seriously.
Here is a short clip for you:
And this went on all evening.
Although I had thought that he was, the man on the horse is not Alexander the Great, but an unnamed Warrior on a Horse who looks like Alexander the Great.
But Skopje also has a completely different side. The bazaar was still busy late at night when I made my way through it and up the hill with the fortress, where the air was fresher and everything was more quiet. The brightly lit statues and buildings were shining in the distance, but the music couldn’t reach me up here.
Only 15 minutes away from Disneyland, I listened to the city’s mosques. The video shows the view of Mustafa Pasha Mosque:
The muezzin’s call to prayer reminded me of my travels in the Middle East and I understood even less than before why some people in central Europe oppose the building of mosques. To me, the call to prayer has an exotic sound, but it is also calming in a way. On the way back to the hostel I had to walk through the center again, which was still clinking and jingling kitschily.
Skopje, the city with at least two very different sides to it. If Las Vegas and Mecca want to go on vacation together, they can come here.