Skopje Macedonia – Riot Squads and Large Scale Political Rallies ‘r Us

Political rally in downtown Skopje, Macedonia.
Political rally in downtown Skopje, Macedonia*.

A
s a smart and careful traveller, I always make sure to investigate potential riots and large scale political gatherings in any foreign land. In my first 48 hours in Skopje, capital city of Macedonia, I got to check out both. After reading this article, some people may think Skopje is a hotbed of citizens rioting and spending their Saturday nights attending political rallies. Objectively, is that the truth?

Well, objectivity is such a fickle thing. No matter how this photo series is presented, someone is bound to get upset. This isn’t a new thing on Yomadic, I almost felt like an official apology was necessary before clicking publish on my Croatian and Serbian articles. I’m sure many people now believe that those two Balkan nations are just hives of extreme corruption, filled with decaying concrete communist architecture. Indeed.

Of course there is more to Skopje than just smoking, drinking yoghurt, and watching the occasional riot or political rally. After being here for just a couple of days, I’ve already seen a major road close down due to a face-off between protesters and riot police, and a huge political gathering in the center of the city. So are these photos any less objective than showing a series featuring grassy fields, well groomed wildlife, snow capped mountains, and beautifully preserved historic architecture? You may draw your own conclusions.

 

Skopje is amazing, and I don’t use that term lightly. Local architectural ranges from baroque to brutal, and from Disneyland-esque to Las Vegas-esque. Located in the valley of a mountain range, Skopje’s neighbourhoods include the largest Gypsy (Roma) community in the world, and the Ottoman influenced old town on the doorstep of the city center. In both places, you’ll find some of the nicest meat filled pasties you will ever eat. It’s genuinely surprising how many layers there are to what is seemingly just a small Macedonian city.

As usual, a week just doesn’t seem enough. But that’s all I booked in Skopje, in my little downtown communist-era shoe box dream-apartment. Soon, I’ll give a thorough wrap-up of the city. In the meantime, if you want to know more about Skopje, and Macedonia, check out the article over on the Blond Gypsy.

For now, I’ll just leave these photos here.

 

Potential riot. Skopje, Macedonia.
Potential riot – the moment where protesters reached the police line. Skopje, Macedonia.
time to get wild in downtown Skopje
Saturday night, means it’s time to get wild in downtown Skopje.
lovely Macedonian lady, Skopje
She’s a lovely lady once you get to know her. Skopje, Macedonia.
red beret skopje macedonia
I wouldn’t mess with him. Skopje, Macedonia.
Due to potential rioting, the Kale Fortress of Skopje was closed
Due to potential rioting, the Kale Fortress of Skopje was closed.
Macedonian riot squad stands ready
However, Macedonian riot squads stand ready to direct tourists to the Skopje Museum of Contemporary Art.
Macedonian man has his hat blown away by musician in downtown Skopje.
Macedonian man has his hat blown away by musician in downtown Skopje.
Feeling the rhythm of Skopje, Macedonia.
Feeling the rhythm of Skopje, Macedonia.
Macedonians love to smoke.
Macedonians love to smoke. Cigarettes. Skopje Macedonia.
smoking in Macedonia
We don’t like smoking, oh no, we love it. Skopje, Macedonia.
Macedonian man lighting a cigarette.
Macedonian man lighting a cigarette.
Riot in Skopje
Riot squad commence formation, this is not a drill. Skopje, Macedonia.
dancing and smoking a cigarette in downtown Skopje.
Macedonian man, dancing and smoking a cigarette in downtown Skopje.
Macedonian political rally
Approximately 90,000 people attended this political rally, lasting until after midnight in Skopje, Macedonia.
political rally in Skopje, Macedonia.
People heading in to the political rally, downtown Skopje, Macedonia.

In the name of objectivity, I’ll add this: the riot didn’t occur as the protesters had the good sense to see they were clearly outnumbered by riot police, the downtown political rally was attended by 90,000 and was peaceful, people have been incredibly friendly here in Skopje, and Macedonia does not report official statistics regarding smoking prevalence.

Skopje, wow. Just wow.

Nate

PS, don’t miss next post on incredible Macedonia. Pop your email address in here, and have it automatically delivered to your inbox.

PPS, Skopje is pronounced “Skorp-yeah”.

* there is this whole thing about the name of this country. It’s Macedonia, versus the Republic of Macedonia, versus the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). I’m going to call it “Macedonia”. I’m from Australia, and you can call my country whatever you want.

 

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