If you want to escape the reality of Skopje for a quick moment, visit the Fortress Kale. It is situated prominently on a hill in the old part of Skopje, across the Stone Bridge. Besides an interesting fortress, it gives a good view over the city of Skopje.
The ramp was partly built of stones from the ancient town of Skupi, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 518. The inhabitants of Skupi decided to build a new settlement on the place where nowadays Kale is situated.
After the earthquake of 1963, only a few restored walls, the main gateway and two towers remained. The present-day ruins date back from the 10th-century enlargement of the fort under Tsar Samoil.
The Skopje Fortress commonly referred to as Kale Fortress, or simply Kale (from kale, the Turkish word for 'fortress'), is a historic fortress located in the old town of Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. It is situated on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River. The fortress is depicted on the coat of arms of Skopje, which in turn is incorporated in the city's flag.
The first fortress, according to research and available data, is believed to have been built amidst the 6th century A.D., on land that had been inhabited during the Neolithic and Bronze ages or roughly 4000 B.C. It was constructed with yellow limestone and travertine and along with fragments of Latin inscriptions, assert the idea that the fortress originated from the Roman city of Skupi, which was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 518.
In late 2006 and early 2007, research and excavation of the Skopje Fortress funded by the Macedonian government had finally commenced. Researchers discovered woodwind instruments and clay ornaments dating as far back as 3000 BC. Excavation of the main fortress also revealed houses below the fortress' visible level. The discoveries are believed to have belonged to inhabitants of Skupi on which the fortress was built. Archaelogical excavations continued in 2009.
In May 2010, archeologists unearthed the largest stash of Byzantine coins ever found in Macedonia at the fortress.
The castle in the old section of town offers visitors the most spectacular views of Skopje. Popular with domestic and foreign tourists alike, the castle has well-tended gardens and places to relax in, as well as wonderful views of both sections of the city.
The interior of the Skopsko Kale has some pretty impressively preserved monuments, although most of them are likely from the Turkish period and not from the earlier Mediaeval or Roman fortresses. The whole structure was rebuilt during the 18th century, after the city was invaded and briefly held by the Austrians during the raids by Eugene of Savoy at the end of the 17th century. There is not much by way of either explanations or exhibits, despite the fact that the Archeological and Historical Museum has been in possession of the site since the Yugoslav military evacuated it in 1951. There is a watchtower as well as a few remains of the foundations of what were probably once military storehouses and arsenals. The best part of the interior of the fortress is the view, for which I’ve decided to dedicate an entirely separate tip.
If you just wander about the area south of Vardar, it is forgivable for you to think that Skopje is a thoroughly modern city with no historical interest. This is largely because the area south of the Vardar was rebuilt after the devastating 1963 earthquake that killed over one thousand. Skopje is a very old city, however, the first seat of the mediaeval Serbian kingdom and where the first King of Serbs was crowned. It was also an important Ottoman centre in the Balkans. To get a perspective of these parts of the city’s history, it is a good idea to head to Skopsko kale, or Skopje Fortress (note that, while fortress is tvrdjava in Serbia, it is kale – from the Turkish – in Macedonian). The outer walls of the fortress are remarkably well preserved – or rather, I should say, reconstructed. This location has been a stronghold since the 4th millennium BC, and was repeatedly rebuilt and refortified by the Greeks, the Romans, the ancient Bulgarians, the Serbs and the Turks. It was even mentioned by the Turkish traveller Evliya Celebi in his travelogue from the 17th century, although at that time the full Turkish construction of the fortress must have been quite impressive.
"Kale" means fortress and it is situated on a hill, which dominates the whole Skopje valley. Excavations give evidence that life existed there in the late Neolithic and Bronze ages, while the citadel was built after the earthquake in 518. It was built of stone blocks from the ruins of the city of Scupi, during the rule of the Byzantium Emperor Justinijan the 1st. The ramparts of the Skopsko Kale are 121 meter long and today one square, one rectangular and one round tower are saved. The great complex since 1392 was stationarity of the Turkish army until 1913 Today in the space of the fortress is an arranged park, which serves for recreation and fun, and in the evening hours besides the sounds of the Macedonian folks music, the visitors have a wonderful view on the city and the river Vardar from there.
Skopje's castle (Kale) stands above the Carsija district, and although not much of the castle actually still stands (most of it was damaged in the earthquake of 1963), it is worth coming up here for the views over the city. Free to enter, it seems a popular place to come in the late afternoon just before sunset.
The fortress was originally built by the Byzantines in the VI century with stone walls some 121 meters long. According to archaeologists, the stone blocks used in this construction were taken from the destroyed city of Skupi nearby (Roman name for Skopje was SKUPI).
Kale today is one of Skopje’s best sightseeing spots, offering a fantastic view of the city and proximity to the sites of the city’s Ottoman old town.
The ruins of the Kale fortress sit upon the tallest hill in the Skopje valley, and overlook the river and the city. The walls offer great views of the city, and the open, grassy interior are a popular place for a picnic. Be warned, however, when the winds pick up, it's really dusty up there, and you'll need goggles to keep yourself from being constantly blinded.
The fortress dates back to the 11th century, although the hill itself was the site of Skopje's earliest Neolithic settlement. The Kale was fortified during Ottoman rule, who had as many as 70 towers standing over the city. Today there are only three remaining.
Along with the Old Bazaar, the fortress is the most photogenic part of the city, so don't forget your camera.
On the hilltop that overlooks the old city you'll find the Old Fort it commands great views over the city. Sadly there is no museum to view. There has been human presence here for over 4,000 years but the fort that we know today was bulit in the 5th Century by the Eastern Roman Empire, and then added to by the Turks... Enjoyable walk, and great place for a quiet picnic away from the city hussle and bussle..
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