How Skopje became Europe’s new capital of kitsch

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  • George S.
    Senior Member
    • Aug 2009
    • 10116

    How Skopje became Europe’s new capital of kitsch

    How Skopje became Europe’s new capital of kitsch

    Skopje’s new neo-classical splendour is divisive and expensive – not to mention of questionable taste. But one thing’s for sure: it’s made the Macedonian capital a truly surprising and impressive spectacle

    Skopje’s new neo-classical splendour is divisive and expensive – not to mention of questionable taste. But one thing’s for sure: it’s made the Macedonian capital a truly surprising and impressive spectacle

    Kit Gillet
    Saturday 11 April 2015 11.47 BST
    Walk along the river towards the heart of Skopje, the Republic of Macedonia’s capital, and you’ll quickly find yourself among a host of gleaming, neo-classical buildings, complete with ornate columns and rooftop figures of nymphs. The buildings weren’t there five years ago.

    In early April, the riverside bars are just shaking off the cobwebs of winter, returning tables and chairs to terraces that look out over many of the new structures. Bridges lined with pristine statues of Macedonian heroes, writers and artists cross the slow-moving waters of the Vardar river.

    Long a forgotten corner of Europe, the former Yugoslav republic has gone into overdrive since 2010, erecting huge government and civic buildings as well as hundreds of statues in the heart of its capital. Now almost complete, the project, known as Skopje 2014 (it was meant to be finished last year), is just as intriguing and arguably as divisive as it was when first announced.

    The project has two main aims: to draw in more tourists and to try to reclaim aspects of the country’s history from neighbouring Greece, appealing to the patriotism of many ethnic Macedonians. It has cost somewhere between €200-€500m (depending on who you talk to) and has resulted in a completely new-look city centre.

    “It’s very kitsch, but it’s bringing in visitors,” says Oliver Stefanovski, the manager at Unity Hostel, right on the edge of the new development.

    Kitsch statues in Skopje. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
    Many Macedonians are questioning the scheme’s vast public expense – not to mention its aesthetic qualities. There is also controversy over the way it ignores much of the role of the Muslim Albanian community in the country’s history. But there’s no doubting it has put the city on the tourist map, aided by the arrival of budget flights from Wizz Air.

    At the heart of the new-look city centre is a 22-metre-high bronze statue of Alexander the Great, encircled by warriors and a fountain that’s at the centre of nightly light shows. Nearby, statues of former rulers and saints seem to be crammed by the dozen into all available spaces, along with the city’s own arc de triomphe.

    Related: Travel tips: holidays in Macedonia, plus this week's best deals | Joanne O'Connor

    Across the river from Alexander, a towering statue of Philip of Macedonia, hand raised to the heavens, stares back. “I definitely prefer this new area of the city to the old area. It shows our history,” says Aneta Gakovska, the owner of a small local restaurant.

    Foreign visitors used to come to Skopje primarily to wander around the beautiful Old Bazaar district, with its alleys, mosques and old hilltop fort. But now they can go in less than five minutes from drinking a Turkish coffee among people and architecture that wouldn’t be out of place in a traditional city of the Middle East, to being surrounded by faux-classical European architecture and imagery.

    Opinions may be divided over it, but the Skopje 2014 project has certainly made the city one of Europe’s more unorthodox capitals to visit.
    "Ido not want an uprising of people that would leave me at the first failure, I want revolution with citizens able to bear all the temptations to a prolonged struggle, what, because of the fierce political conditions, will be our guide or cattle to the slaughterhouse"
  • DraganOfStip
    Senior Member
    • Aug 2011
    • 1253


    Германија стави крај на енергетските картели. Во земјата се спроведува нова кампања со која се информираат граѓаните за иницијативата на германските власти. Германија е прва земја во светот која е апсолутно енергетски независна од природни ресурси како нафта и природен гас, а многу скоро ќе може и да извезува електрична енергија на европскиот пазар.

    Германија има толку добри резултати при користењето на енергија од обновливи извори, што цените на електричната енергија се паднати на многу ниско ниво, а на потрошувачите буквално им се плаќа за да трошат електрична енергија.

    Во сончевите и потопли денови преку сончеви панели и ветерни турбини во Германија се обезбедува над 87% од енергијата од обновливи извори. Германија е една од неколкуте водечки европски земји, кои се повеќе се вртат кон чистата енергија, додека во исто време работа на целосно исфрлање на користењето на фосилните горива.

    Минатата година изворите на обновлива енергија покриле близу 33% од вкупната потрошувачка на електрична енергија во земјата.
    Со оглед на тоа што производството на електроцентралите на јаглен и атомските електроцентрали не може брзода се стопира, Германците се принудени да продолжат да продаваат електрична енергија на електромрежите, но веќе со загуба. Тоа значи дека властите им дозволува на индустриските корисници да заработуваат пари со трошењето на струја.

    Германија сака целосно да премине на обновлива енергија до 2015 година, а наскоро властите ќе објават и официјално решение стопирање и ограничување на фосилните горива. Јагленот се уште е извор за производство на околу 40% од електричната енергија во Германија и се смета за важен дел од стабилното снабдување со електроенергија, со оглед на тоа што Германија се откажува и од атомските електроцентрали и ги заменува со обновливи извори на енергија.
    What does the above have to do with Skopje 2014 you ask?
    Skopje 2014 costs over 600 million euros.Not to mention all other money-laundering government projects.
    All that money could have been used for investing in wind/solar power plants and we would not be helping just ourselves but our planet too.
    P.S.: Sorry I posted the original article in Macedonian.You know my view of Google Translate.
    ”A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims... but accomplices”
    ― George Orwell


    • Stevce
      • Jan 2016
      • 200

      "There is also controversy over the way it ignores much of the role of the Muslim Albanian community in the country’s history." What positive role has the Albanian community had in Macedonia? They refused to learn the language they impose themselves on every aspect and kill innocent Macedonians when they don't get their way. If they don't want to integrate which they clearly do not they can go back to Kosovo or Albania.