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Skopje (Capital city, Macedonia)

Скопје

Last modified: 2013-08-04 by ivan sache
Keywords: skopje | bridge (yellow) |
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[Vertical flag of Skopje]     [Horizontal flag of Skopje]

Flag of Skopje, vertical and horizontal versions - Images by Ivan Sache, 25 June 2006, after the Skopje official website.


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Presentation of Skopje

The town of Skopje (506,926 inhabitants in 2006, that is c. 1/4 of the total population of the country), located on river Vardar, is the capital of Macedonia.

Successively settled by the Dardanians and the Macedonians, the town was mentioned for the first time, as Scupi, by the Roman historian Titus-Livy. Incorporated into the Province of Illyria, Scupi was settled by veterans from the 7th Legion. In the late Roman Empire, Scupi was made the capital of the new Province of Dardania; the town is indeed represented as a provincial capital on the Peutinger Map (4th-5th century). Soon after the Edict of Milan, that made in 303 the Christian religion official in the Roman Empire, Scupi became the seat of a bishopric.
Threatened by the Barbarian invasions, Scupi was totally destroyed by an earthquake in 518, an event related in Marcellinus Comes' Chronicles. Most of the population escaped death because it had already fled to the heights due to an attack by the Avars. The town was rebuilt upon order by Emperor Justinian in his birth place, a fortified site known as Taoresium, located close to the destroyed Scupi; it is therefore believed that the town founded in 535 as Justiniana Prima, was built on the present site of Skopje. After Justinian's death, the town, conquerred by the Slavic tribe of Brsjaks, was renamed Skopje.

Nothing is known on Skopje until its incorporation into the medieval state set up by Tsar Samuel. In 1004, the commander of the town of Skopje handed down the town to the Byzantine Emperor Basil II, who subsequently suppressed Samuel's state after the battle of Belasica (1014). During the next centuries, the town was disputed among the Byzantines and the Normands, until eventually conquerred by the Serbian Nemanja dynasty. Crowned in Skopje in 1346, Tsar Dušan edicted there in 1349 a Code making of the town a significant political, cultural and trade center, with relations to Venice and Dubrovnik, and the Middle and Far East as well.

On 16 January 1392, the Ottomans seized Skopje, subsequently renamed Iskib. Used as a base for the next conquests, Iskib was also famous for its covered market; the Turkish travel-writer Evli Çelebi evaluated around 1670 the size of the town as 10,160 houses.
On 25 October 1689, the Austrian army commanded by General Piccolomini, at war with the Ottomans, seized Iskib after little resistance, and the town was burned down to ashes during the next two days. The Austrian invasion encouraged the local Christian population to revolt; the Ottoman repression was fiercy, culminating with the impalement of the leader Karpoš on the Stone Bridge of Skopje. Several Christians exiled but the situation of the town did not improve until the 19th century.
In the middle of the 19th century, the Macedonian movement against hellenization and for the use of the Macedonian language emerged in Skopje. The first national library was opened by Jordan H. K. Džinot in 1850. At the end of the century, Skopje became a main station on the railway line to Salonica.
In 1878, the Congress of Berlin maintained Macedonia within the defeated Ottoman Empire. After the creation of Bulgaria, several Muslims and the Turkish army withdrew to Macedonia, dramatically increasing the Muslim poulation in Skopje. Macedonia became a peripherical region of the Empire, Skopje being the center of a Revolutionary District set up by the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, renamed VMRO in 1905. Formed on 7 January 1909 as the authorized, local branch of the Ottoman Social Democratic Party, the Skopje Social Democratic Organization organized the same year the first 1 May celebration in the Ottoman Empire.

Following the Balkan War, the Treaty of Bucharest (1913) split Macedonia between Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia, Skopje and the surroundings being incorporated to Serbia, and, subsequently, to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. On 8 April 1941, the Germans took the town and quickly transferred it to Bulgaria. Liberated on 13 November 1944 by the National Liberation Army of Macedonia, Skopje became the capital of the Republic of Macedonia in the Socialist Yugoslavia, and, after the disruption of Yugoslavia in 1991, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 6 January 2010


Status of Skopje

The new organization of Skopje was prescribed by the administrative reform adopted on 24 August 2004. In 1994, Skopje was divided into five components: Čair, Centar, Gazi Baba, Karpoš and Kisela Voda. This superseded the earlier division (1968) into Idadija, Kale and Kisela Voda.
The new organization caused political trouble because it made of Skopje a blinigual city, the proportion of Albanians reaching 27% after the incorporation of some Albanian villages. The same situation occurred in Kičevo and Struga. Opponents to the law collected more than the required number of signatures to organize a referendum which would cause the return of the 1994 law. The referendum failed and the new law was confirmed.

The Law on the City of Skopje says:

I. General Regulations

Article 5.
The City of Skopje has a coat of arms and flag that are used on its whole territory.
The municipalities in the City of Skopje have their own coats of arms and flags that are used simultaneously with the coat of arms and flag of the City of Skopje.

II. Organization of the City of Skopje

Article 7.
The area of the City of Skopje is made of the territories of the municipalities of: Aerodrom, Butel, Gazi Baba, Gjorče Petrov, Karpoš, Kisela Voda, Saraj, Centar, Čair and Šuto Orizari, within the boundaries determined by this law. [The boundaries are defined in great detail in Article 8].

Ivan Sache, 25 June 2006


Flag of Skopje

The flag of the city of Skopje is a red vertical banner in proportions 1:2 with the coat of arms of the city in yellow placed in the canton. Over the last years, I have seen many horizontal variants of the flag hoisted on the streets, in the same proportions and with the coat of arms of the city in yellow placed in the canton.

Valentin Poposki, 24 June 2006

The symbols of Skopje are presented on the municipal website as follows:

The Flag of the City of Skopje is red, and in its left upper quarter, next to the spear lies its coat of arms printed in yellow color.

The Coat of Arms of the City of Skopje has the form of a shield, whose upper side is semi arch turned inwards, the left and the right upper corner of the shield is made by two italic lines, whereas the bottom sides represent outwadrs round arches that end with a peak in the middle of the bottom span. The space around the shield contains: The Stone Bridge with the Vardar River, the fortress Kale and the snowy peaks of the mountain Shar.

Ivan Sache, 6 January 2010


Skopje in Socialist Yugoslavia

[Flag of Skopje in FYR]         [Flag of Skopje in FYR]

Possible old flag of Skopje, vertical and horizontal versions - Image by Jens Pattke, 10 February 2013

The flag of Skopje was seen in an exhibition of Socialist partner cities of Dresden (then in German Democratic Republic), in the beginning of the 1980s.

However, this flag was not necessarily the official city flag of Skopje. Among the other flags shown in the exhibition, the flag of Leningrad was striking. That flag was a white cloth, with the coat of arms (from the Soviet time) in the middle. I am not aware that the City of Leningrad had a flag. It was common in the GDR to put the municipal coat of arms on a white cloth if there was not any official city flag. The organizer of the exhibition perhaps helped himself so. The flags of Ustí nad Labem (Czech Republic), Wrocław (Poland) and Dresden shown in the exhibition were the known flags with pre-1990 arms.
The design, however, is supported by the photo of a flag for horizontal dispaly.

Jens Pattke & Valentin Poposki, 10 February 2013

The emblem must have been adopted in the 1950s or even before. In any case it was shown on 1969 postage stamp of Yugoslavia.

Željko Heimer, 3 February 2002