Skopje is definitely not as big as some other European capitals, but it has many museums which will make you fall in love with Skopje and Macedonia as well, once you get to see what there is to be seen. There are big and small museums, free of charge and those where you need to pay a ticket. These are the ones that visitors should see whenever in Skopje.
1 Situated on the top of the hill in the Skopje central area and right next to Skopje’s Kale Fortress is the Museum of Contemporary Art. Surrounded by the panoramic view of the city and its larger area, the museum will continue to be the one museum which is open and accessible to all art admirers and lovers. Concurrently, it is identifiable as a place for spending time together and talking, for gatherings with or without a special occasion. Founded as a cultural institution in 1963, the museum continuously features permanent and temporary exhibitions in the building that was donated by the Polish Government after the devastating earthquake. The building itself was designed by the Polish architects J. Mokrzynski, E. Wierzbicki and W. Klyzewski who submited their proposal in the national competition organized by the UN, and according to their vision of the open spaces, the museum building has too a cinema theater with 120 seats, a library and archives, administration, the conservation room, storage and other departments, in addition to the museum shop and cafeteria. Most of the art exhibits are featuring modern art from almost all parts of the world, but there are some temporary ones that showcase the great works of the quite known, world renowned artists like Pablo Picasso, Hans Hartung, Victor Vasarely, Alexander Calder, Pierre Soulages, Alberto Burri etc.
2 Tucked in the Old Bazaar, the Museum of Macedonia is considered to be among the oldest national institutions, as well as one of the most unique ones, which offers variety of exhibitions, mostly from the anthropology, archaeology, ethnology, history, history of arts, and conservation department. The building in which it is located, is a newly built one, and by being a museum of a complex type, within the museum are collected, researched, conserved, processed and presented the cultural and historic heritage of Macedonia that begins from prehistoric times until today. As it is showcased large part of the Macedonian history and legacy, this would be a great point for you to discover the country’s history.
3 When crossing the Stone Bridge from the main square, right on the left side you will spot the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle, or as the official name is Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Sovereignty and Independence – Museum of VMRO – Museum of the Victims of the Communist Regime. Located in a newly constructed building, this specialized museum of historical exhibitions is dedicated to the Macedonian historical, cultural and revolutionary traditions, as well as the perennial struggle of the Macedonian people to create a national state on the Balkans. Within the museum, there are plenty of wax figures of the most important Macedonian people, in addition to the “Declaration of proclamation of independence of the Republic of Macedonia” which has a central place in the lobby of the building. Still, established as a cultural institution in 2011, the exhibits displayed here could be shown to you by a guide who explains everything that needs to be explained, all the ordeals suffered by the Macedonian people in the exercise of its libertarian vision, the original idea of the revolutionary struggle for the liberation of Macedonia, unification and the creation of an independent Macedonian state, or simply you can choose to go around alone and slowly learn about the long history explained here.
4 Next to the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle is located the Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia, which serves as a multimedia center, consisting of several functional parts, and it was built in the place where once the Jewish neighborhood stood. Dedicated to the 7,148 Jews who were deported to the Treblinka extermination camp, the memorial center is definitely among the most visited institutions in the city, since the admission is free of charge.
5 Another cultural institution which is located next to these two institutions is the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia that offers more than 7000 archaeological artifacts which were uncovered with the archaeological excavations throughout the territory of Macedonia, that were carried out more than 90 years ago. As an official institution dedicated to archaeological findings, it is located in a newly constructed building that is featured with tall columns and huge glass windows, making it one of the most photographed buildings in the entire city. Officially the tour of the museum begins with the Bridge of Civilizations, but furthermore, inside visitors can see artifacts that were excavated from the many archaeological site, some Byzantine treasures, 3D reconstructions of early Macedonian faces from skulls, replica of an early Christian basilica showing the life phases of mosaic conservation, a Phoenician royal necropolis etc. As it is among the most important and oldest museum institutions in the country, the museum is worth the visit if you are interested in ancient artifacts.
6 Certainly one of the most prominent and most significant people from Skopje from the not-so-distant past is Mother Teresa. Being the only Nobel Peace Prize winner from Macedonia, unfortunately, there are not that many people who know that she is actually from Skopje. She was born in Skopje, in a Roman Catholic family of Albanian ethnicity, and she lived here for 18 years. The place where the Memorial House of Mother Teresa is located was the former place the old Catholic Church “Sacred Heart of Jesus” where the Saint was baptized, and as it was built in a span of 8 months according to the project of Vangel Bozhinovski, the house officially opened in 2009. The house holds a multi functional, but sacral character, that showcases some of Mother Teresa’s belongings that were transferred to Skopje with support of the Roman Catholic Church of Skopje. In addition, there is also museum, sculpture, and gallery that glorifies this holy woman. Definitely one of the most visited museum-houses in Skopje, the admission is free of charge, and every visitor leaves with hope for a better tomorrow.
7 Further down the street from the Memorial House is the important Museum of the City of Skopje, which serves not just as a cultural institution but also as a reminder about an infamous past as it is located in the old railway station that was partially destroyed during the devastating 1963 earthquake. The clock that is right above the entrance of the museum shows the time of the earthquake, while within there is a permanent exhibition about the earthquake and how the city developed with the help from the United Nations and every country in the world. The museum works as a local institution since 1949, and nowadays it is home to permanent exhibitions representing the history of Skopje, from the first recorded settlements around 3000 BC to present. The main exhibit is, of course, the one dedicated to the 1963 earthquake, nonetheless, on the upper floors there are also important artworks, and with the free entrance it is definitely something that should not be missed.
8 One of the lesser known cultural institutions in Skopje is the Macedonian Museum of Natural History. Being a national institution that is considered to be the oldest one of its kind in the country, the Museum collects, keeps, studies, deposits, as well as exhibits the natural riches of Macedonia that represent the Macedonian flora and fauna. In addition, the Skopje ZOO is located right next to the main museum building.
These are all the important museums and memorials that you can visit while in Skopje, and if you would like to get further information from every institution, the official name that is with italic letters is linked to the official website.