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What To Make Of The Fabulous Frivolous Skopje Fountains

Fountains of SkopjeSpray washes over me as I try to capture the moment on film. Fountains dance in time to classical music as gods, warriors and lions look on in stony silence. A rain shower drenches majestic blasts of water choreographed into a fascinating performance. I find myself mesmerised and unconcerned that I am slowly becoming sodden in my quest for the perfect picture of these fabulous Skopje fountains.

The fountains of Skopje

It is impossible to come to Skopje and fail to be impressed by these incredible fountains. The government fuelled frenzy of constructing mammoth statues and fountains started in 2010 with the announcement of ‘Skopje 2014.’ The original plan was to build around 40 monuments and revamp crumbling facades. Clearly, someone cannot count, or things got out of hand as statues, monuments and fountains adorn ever corner, every bridge, and every building.

Out of control spending

The city of Skopje just couldn’t say no as the original budget of €80 million morphed into over €500 million. Now that is overspending on a tectonic scale, one might even say frivolous considering the economic woes of Macedonia.

One local sadly informs me that average wages of around €300 aren’t even enough to cover basic monthly costs. Most young people leave to go overseas and send money back to their family in Macedonia. I am lost for words of comfort, struggling to imagine being forced to leave a country to be able to support my family.

It seems bizarre that the government have opted to invest in all this over the top, ostentatious extravagance and still they keep building. Cranes are as plentiful as statues in this city.

Skopje monuments, Macedonia
Skopje monuments, Macedonia

A memento of communist propaganda?

I can’t help noticing similarities to Cold War propaganda when such over the top displays were intended as a display of wealth and power. The loudspeakers piping the accompanying music could just as easily be spewing political untruths.

Balkan Insights quotes supporters who suggest the building ‘will transform the image of a city blighted by decades of dreary Socialist architecture and neglect.’ They mention a restoration of national pride and a wish to create a cosmopolitan capital. Well, they have definitely succeeded in that quest – these monuments leave an indelible impression on first-time visitors.

The Bridge of Civilisations, Skopje, Macedonia
The Bridge of Civilisations, Skopje, Macedonia

Mind boggling fountains of Skopje

It isn’t just their number but their size as these statues are huge! The musical shows of daylight are majestic and yet the flamboyance of night-time light shows eclipse this spectacle. They are magnificent so whatever your political views on the fountains of Skopje, you really MUST NOT miss them.

Here’s just a few that have captured my heart.

Alexander the Great Fountain – Macedonia Square

Perhaps the highlight of a visit to Skopje is the awe-inspiring 22-metre high bronze equestrian statue of Alexander the Great. Perched on top of a white marble fountain, with warriors and lions protecting him, water cascades in sheets of rain, and forceful spurts. It is so captivating, I find it almost impossible to stop clicking away on the camera.

Alexander The Great Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia
Alexander The Great Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia
Alexander The Great Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia
Alexander The Great Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia
Alexander the Great Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia
Alexander the Great Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia courtesy of The Sweetest Way

I could sit for hours and watch this marvel.

Phillip II of Macedonia – Karpos Rebellion Square (or Phillip II square)

The father of Alexander the Great is immortalised in this fountain and it is strong competition for the Alexander the Great fountain. Reached by crossing over the ancient Kameni Most stone bridge, you can revel in a further musical water display.

Phillip II of Macedonia Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia
Phillip II of Macedonia Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia
Phillip II of Macedonia Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia
Phillip II of Macedonia Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia

The Mother’s Fountain – Karpos Rebellion Square

This is much less grandiose but nevertheless an enchanting homage to motherhood with sculptures of pregnant ladies alongside those of women comforting their children.

Mothers Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia
Mothers Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia
Mothers Fountain, Skopje
Mothers Fountain, Skopje
Mother's Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia
Mother’s Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia, courtesy of The Sweetest Way

These are not the only fountains in this square. With various smaller ones scattered around, I can’t help wondering whether the person in charge is indulging some whimsical fantasy.

Skopje Fountains, Macedonia
Skopje fountains courtesy of Adventurous Kate

The River Vardar Fountain

If all that isn’t enough to keep your attention, there’s yet another spectacle planted firmly in the fast flowing River Vardar. Powerful jets of water shoot high into the air in front of the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, maybe another desperate attempt to keep you transfixed.

River Varta Fountains by night, Skopje, Macedonia
River Varta Fountains by night. Picture courtesy of Backpacktips.

 

The River Vardar, Skopje, Macedonia
The River Vardar Fountains by day, Skopje, Macedonia

Perhaps a ploy to entice tourists or a nationalistic display of power and wealth for neighbouring states?

Here’s what I think

I have no idea which but I know I LOVE IT. Never has a city held me so enthralled and I find myself trying to find ever more creative ways to capture the essence of these beautiful monoliths. I wander for hours through labyrinthine streets, the bazaar and into the hillside of Vodno forever hunting for a new statue or fountain to admire. This city has me hooked.

The Fountains of Skopje, Macedonia
The Fountains of Skopje. Night picture courtesy of Backpack tips

What do you think?

The blogs I read before this trip seemed to be overly disgusted at this extravagance. I find myself part horrified and part enraptured with these remarkable creations.

For those who have visited, I would love to know what you thought and for those who haven’t what your first impression is.

Read more on Macedonia.

Top Travel Hack tips for a Skopje visit

  1. Indulge in FREE admiration of all the statues and fountains
  2. Search for hotels on Hotels.com to earn one free night in ten or book an Airbnb.
  3. Use the Curve card to cut international card fees.
  4. Book flights using a search engine such as Skypicker or check out WizzAir.

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of TravelTheGlobe4Less. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 80 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money saving travel tips

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8 comments

  1. How strange, and sad, that the city would spend soooo much money on fountains and statues! It is beautiful of course, but there are so many more important things to spend money on. But, the more you advertise how beautiful Skopje is, perhaps more people will visit and bring their money to the people and businesses there. Thank you for sharing this, if I visit Macedonia, I’ll be sure to come here!

  2. I’m not sure if I would be horrified but I would certainly be intrigued as to why the city would invest so much money in building so many fountains. It does seem strange! Hopefully all these monuments will attract lots of tourists and will help in the local economy. As for now, they do make for some really interesting photos!

  3. Hmmm… I don’t know what to think of this place. I mean, sure the fountains are stunning but at that cost? Nope! Art is great, but it’s messed up when governments decide that public displays are more important than their citizens’ wellbeing.

  4. That’s a lot of money to spend. I love the look of the fountains and there is certainly a lot for people to see but does it really justify the expense?

  5. Wow an €80 million budget to €500? That’s crazy. It’s so unfortunate that people have to move away from their country to send money back home because of the government. Thanks for sharing this!

  6. Okay, these fountains are impressive, and I get they were trying to turn Skopje into a beautiful destination. But spending that much? Sounds like I’ve been too harsh with Romania… They bought some hugely expensive clocks to place around Bucharest at one pint, they paid about 350 k Euros for 10 of them and I thought that was a waste! I am reconsidering now 🙂

  7. You weren’t kidding! Oh so many statues in one city seems a bit over-the-top. But they are great to look at. It’s so strange though, most of the statues we see are so old, but having new ones seems a bit weird. I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me wanted to stare at all the old statues and wonder why they were put up in the first place.

  8. I can’t say I have ever heard of this place before reading your post on it. I have to agree with you completely that I’m part in awe and part horrified. The statues and fountains are incredible and I would love to see them. But to spend all of that money when people are going hungry is just tragic. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. Really interesting post.

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