City of Skopje – Matka Gorge
Skopje, the city under the Millennium Cross, the city of Solidarity, the birthplace of Mother Teresa, the city of companionship, friendship, and togetherness. The Old Bazaar is the heart of Skopje, while the Kale Fortress, located at the highest point in the Old Town on the Vardar River, has proudly guarded the city for almost 1,500 years. Divided into two parts by the largest river Vardar, Kameni Most unites the heart of the city with the new part. Almost since the very existence of the city, Skopje has been characterized by a lively local life, where every street, every corner hides a story that is waiting to be told, places filled with history, memories, and rich traditional cuisine with a mixture of Balkan and Mediterranean food. The new dynamic life of the city is complemented by the numerous historical sites, starting from the ancient site “Skupi”, all the way to the Old Bazaar, infusing the city with rich tradition and life. The Old Bazaar of Skopje is the largest in the Balkans, after Istanbul and Sarajevo. The bazaar is located on the eastern bank of the Vardar River, stretching from the Stone Bridge to Bit-Pazar and from the Skopje fortress “Kale” to the Serava River. Ottoman architecture is dominant in the Old Bazaar, although remnants of Byzantine architecture are also evident. These historical landmarks give us a chance to better capture the beauty of the city of Skopje. Skopje is a city where every person, regardless of where they come from, will find their place, Skopje is a combination of the old generation and our modern times, and it is a place for all of us.
For those who want a little more adventure, cycling, hiking, and other outdoor activities in nature, we recommend a visit to Mount Vodno and the Millennium Cross, 66 meters high, built on top of Vodno, while the mountain itself has several mountain trails available to all hiking enthusiasts.
For those who want to enjoy beautiful natural landscapes, fresh air, and rich culture, Matka is the perfect destination. Only 15 kilometers southwest of Skopje, on an area of 5000 hectares, is one of the most picturesque canyons in the country, the Matka Canyon. It abounds with a rich complex of medieval buildings, including a dozen churches, monasteries, and the remains of a fortress (the medieval city of Matka). It has dozens of caves and a large number of endemic plants, and animals, a kingdom of diurnal and nocturnal butterflies, and one of the last areas with bald eagles. The karst form deserves special attention – ten caves with a length of 20 to 176 meters and two vertical chasms with a depth of up to 35 meters, of which the underwater cave Vrelo is famous, which, with its depth of 230 meters, is the deepest cave on the Balkan Peninsula. The natural beauty and characteristic terrain of the Matka Canyon allow numerous sports activities such as hiking, alpine climbing where the main season starts in spring, mountain biking and cross trails, recreational fishing, canoeing, and visiting caves that are millions of years old. All this makes Matka the most popular recreational area near Skopje, attracting the local population and foreign tourists daily throughout the year.
In addition to the breathtaking nature, the Matka Canyon also has a great cultural-historical heritage, especially the monastery of St. Andrew, which is located on the shore of the Matka Lake, built in the 14th century. The monastery of St. Nikola Shishovski is located on top of a rock above Matka Lake itself, giving the visitor a spectacular view of the lake and its surroundings. Other important monasteries are the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the church of St. Spas with remains of early Christian churches. In addition to the natural and historical heritage, the Matka canyon also has significant catering facilities and offers visitors traditional rich and delicious food, quality Macedonian varietal wines accompanied by the ethnic decor, traditional Macedonian music, breathtaking nature and relaxation, and all this at only 15 kilometers from the capital Skopje.