Towns in Macedonia – North Macedonia were created from ancient times, but the architectural production that we know and consider as traditional dates from the 19th century, the period the region was under the rule of Ottoman empire. The fact of people of two religions living in the same area and different living habits resulted in two types of traditional houses.
One Islamic, build in large open areas, with large yards, surrounded with tall missionary build walls. Most of them built in two levels, ground and first since they had unlimited space.
Opposite of that, the Christian house is built on sloped terrain, very close one to another. They had to adapt to the terrain and the surroundings so that resulted with developing the building in height so the Christian houses are characterized with at least 3 floors.
After the general separation of the Macedonian traditional architecture based on the religious factor, there is also, very interesting dividing of the architectural production, based on the location. The main architectural traditional production is based in the following cities: Veles, Kratovo, Krusevo, Debar, Ohrid, Tetovo and Strumica. Each of them has its own characteristics that can be easily recognized and noticed.
One of the most representative and well-preserved examples of this kind are located in Krusevo and Ohrid and will elaborate on their concept and characteristics in the next paragraphs.
Located high in the mountains on a “natural amphitheater”, this town that dates back from the 15th century has many representatives of the vernacular architecture. Houses are located on the sloped area, defining the urban structure of the town that exists today and its town panorama.
The topography of the terrain requires irregular city blocks and parcels. The houses are usually built in the back of their parcels, letting the yard be in front of them.
Asymmetrical type of Krusevo house has 3 floors, Ground floor and 2 floors above them. Here the winter apartment is on the first floor, and the summer spaces are on the second one.
Besides the fortress and many churches that form the historic town heart, traditional house is also an integral part of the architectural heritage of Ohrid. Creating the urban morphology of the old town of Varosh between the fortress and the lake, there are many beautiful examples of traditional architecture that can be found in this town.
Building on sloped terrain, in a small area that they had between the lake and the fortress, the Ohrid builders had to use very small footprint for their house, but at least they had unlimited options in terms of height. Having a magnificent view to the lake was a must for every house, so that is one of the rules that was respected in the old Varos neighborhood and Every house had at least one floor that has clear lake view.
“The Stone Bridge“! Every bridge is a metaphysical wonder, the bridge of Skopje in particular! Crossing over the bridge, you do not just cross over to the other bank of the river Vardar. This bridge also unites the cultures rooted and blooming in a single place, in the same city of Skopje; thus the bridge represents a corridor of civilization too. Nowadays it arcs unite Europe and Asia, the East and the West, Christianity, and Islam, taking them close to the point that is unrivaled and unmatched in the world. Until a year ago, a mihrab with inscribed messages from the Koran giving thanks to God and asking for blessings on all who passed that way, stood on that very bridge; and from there, an orthodox bishop cast and still casts the cross into the Vardar on the religious holiday of Epiphany. In homage to this Stone Bridge, in Skopje, the Vardar is known as “The Second Bosporus”. The knowledgeable say: “The Genuine Bosporus”. Death penalties were carried out on this bridge and decrees for pardoning convicts sentenced to death were pronounced here. The hero, Duke Karpoš was also slaughtered on this bridge. Hence, the Stone Bridge is also the bridge between life and death. Gradually rising from its foundations laid deep at the bottom of the river Vardar, the bridge towards its central point draws an imaginary line towards the sky. Thus, the Stone Bridge reveals its vertical function! That which is less visible! But the more essential! It is reminiscent of the fact that the biggest abyss of this world will have to be bridged. Looking at it carefully, you will observe that the Stone Bridge truly bonds the earth and the sky!
The Art Bridge is a pedestrian bridge across the Vardar River in central Skopje, Republic of Macedonia – North Macedonia. The bridge features many statues of noted Macedonian artists and musicians. It was built as part of the larger Skopje 2014 project.
The sculptures on the “Eye” pedestrian bridge, later renamed to “Bridge of Civilizations”, represent historic figures from different epochs whose relics lie on the soil of the Republic of Macedonia – North Macedonia and whose life’s work has left a mark on this region.
Kratovo high stone bridges and towers are built in the Ottoman-era. Kratovo had been a prosperous mining town until its gold and silver dried up in the 19th century. Ancient stone bridges, nearly as tall as they are wide, connect the two halves of the town. There were once up to twenty, though only four remain today.
Ancient tunnels still snake through the rock, and evidence of the town’s former wealth can be seen in the fabulous old buildings which line the hills. Many of these historic houses and shops have survived intact, and Kratovo seems to have arrived in the modern day unblemished by the hands of time.
The Feudal Tower- memorial home of Mother Teresa
The feudal tower was built at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century. The tower is high 14 m. makes part of the House of ARM, the unique preserved monument in the new part of the city. The time when it was built and the one who built it are not known. Most probably it is a feudal tower of some Turkish bay. After the earthquake, it was a little damaged but today it is in good condition. The memorial home of Mother Teresa is situated in it. This extraordinary retro-futuristic memorial is the most unique church you’ll see in Macedonia – North Macedonia. Inside the building, there’s a small first-floor museum displaying memorabilia relating to the famed Catholic nun of Calcutta, born in Skopje in 1910. On the second floor, there is a mind-boggling chapel, with glass walls wrought in filigree (a revered traditional craft of Skopje). Silhouettes of doves are worked into the filigree to symbolize peace, as a homage to Mother Teresa. The memorial sits on the site of a much earlier church, where Mother Teresa was baptized; a plaque around the corner commemorates the spot where she was brought into the world. The tower, with its stooped wooden balcony, is now crumbling and condemned but it still has city historians confounded: nobody knows why it was built, as this side of the Vardar river was thought to be uninhabited at the time of its construction. There are gun holes in the tower walls, so all that is clear is that it was used for defense: somebody must have had something to protect, they’re just not sure who or what.
The Museum of Skopje
This object is built in 1940. Its amazing look is the work of the architects from that time. On this place was situated the Railway Station of Skopje. After the catastrophic earthquake from 26.07.1963, most of the object was ruin. Today, in this object is situated the Museum of the city. The clock hands are showing the time and minutes of this tragically event.
Natural History Museum of Macedonia – North Macedonia
The Natural History Museum of Macedonia – North Macedonia was constructed in 1924 immediately in front of the building of the ZOO. The museum has a paleontological material unique in the Balkan. There is a huge number (526) of birds and other animals shown in the museum. The museum is situated in the yard of the ZOO, on the western side from City Park.
The National Museum in Ohrid- Robevi family house
The National Museum is located in the Robevi family house, a masterpiece of 19th century Ohrid town architecture, in Samuel street. The museum contains archaeological collections of artifacts from prehistoric time and from the classical and medieval periods of Ohrid history. Is also possesses a rich collection of icons, numismatic collection of 9000 coins dating from the classical period and right up to the later Middle Ages and documents from the period of the linden uprising.
Other museums of Macedonia – North Macedonia include the Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia – North Macedonia, Daut Pasha Hammam, Chifte Hamam, The Museum of Contemporary Arts in Skopje, Town Museum in Kriva Palanka, Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments- the National Museum in Ohrid, Museum on water “ bay of bones” in Ohrid, Museum of Bitola, etc.