Balkans Stories - The "Bit Pazar"
After a long day spent travelling through Bulgaria, I finally arrived in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia.
Ivor, a journalist and also my guide for the week, was waiting for me in the Macedonia Square, the centre of the city. Wide boulevards, funky cafes and modern administrative buildings were the predominant features in the landscape.
To my disappointment, it looked more like a European city rather than a city that survived both Roman and Ottoman occupation.
Ivor explained to me that the city is divided into two completely separate sections, two different worlds divided just by a river, the Vardar . It is the end result of the earthquake that destroyed 80% of the city in 1963.
The new parts on the south bank of the Vardar, were mostly fully rebuilt by Kenzo Tange, in contrast to the older parts of north bank which remain mostly untouched after the disaster.
As soon as we crossed the Stone Bridge which connects the two sides, I started to see the difference in the landscape. The cobbled streets become extremely narrow, the small innumerable handicraft shops changed colours, a mixed pallet of pastel shades. I was transported back in time, now the Turkish influence became really evident.
At the end of it, we found the Bit Pazar, which means "flea market" where they sell vegetables, fruits and anything else you want to find.
I felt the people here were real people, the faces were expressive, there was plenty of character and stories about them.