Skopje, one of Europe’s lesser known capitals, is an unlikely battleground for an internationally debated architectural clash. In recent years, the capital of what is still (but may not for long be) called the Republic of Macedonia has developed some notoriety as the location of a new set of extremely bombastic, neo-historicist buildings and monuments that supposedly pay tribute to a hazy and heavily contested regional past. As a new publication points out, however, this steroidal historicism is only part of the city’s architectural story.
A new map guide from Blue Crow Media, Modernist Skopje, highlights the city’s avant-garde architecture from the 1960s and ‘70s—buildings that were mostly born in tragedy. In July 1963, an earthquake hit the city, killing over 1,000 people and leaving 200,000 homeless. The shock destroyed 80 percent of the city’s buildings, leveling many neighborhoods. The knot of old lanes at Skopje’s heart was one of the few to survive.