I love Skopje, I really do. This is a very unusual statement from a person that comes from Ohrid. It is widely known in Macedonia (ok, not so widely in that case) that Ohrid and Skopje are competing for the title “most popular among tourists”. In one hand Skopje is a capital, on the other hand, Ohrid is a heaven! I consider myself as a lucky one born and raised in Ohrid and living for 9 years in Skopje. Skopje during the history had very dark periods- fire, earthquake, crazy government decisions (the project Sk2014). In the past decade, because of awful local authorities politics, Skopje was facing an ecological disaster and is ranked as the Most polluted city in the world.
Some of you would say; “How is this inspirational to visit, is she crazy?!”, but exactly this is a reason to visit Skopje, the present spirit of a constant fighter. That’s what this city is! Human solidarity is something that after visiting this place will keep you around for a long time, for sure. How to experience the spirit of “Never give up” and “love your city for better or for worse”?
There is an initiative called “Na tochak” or “By bike” that is organizing Critical Mass events every last Wednesday of the month. What exactly is happening then? People with Eco-friendly vehicles are gathering on the streets, riding on agreed route. They "occupy" the streets stating that everyone has the right to boulevards at least for one hour a month, as the cars have the right to make jams for 8 hours a day, so the traffic is blocked for cars and buses. The promotion of this initiative is mainly through social media and gadgets like stickers and badges. This way of promotion made biking look cooler.
This is how Skopje is becoming one of the best destination for bikers. The dedicated volunteers are advocating for a better infrastructure. They even succeed to make local authorities to pinch a sum of money when a person from Skopje buys a bike. Visitors tend to say that Skopje is the new Amsterdam because of this trend. I insist not to make the comparison because Skopje is unique, so, I will refer to Skopje as a festival for bikers (especially on the last Wednesday of the month). People are coming with decorated bikes, well dressed, shiny smiles and ring bells. Amazing festiveness on the streets of Skopje is a good way to love your city.
*this is the written greeting that “Na tochak” is using while posting on social media and should sound like a bike bell.
I am Zlata and I am an architect living in the Balkans. I am passionate about cities, how people influence architecture and vice versa, and how places change our lives.