Skopje fortress (Kale)

This historic fortress, most commonly known as kale, from the Turkish word for fortress, is located in the old part of Skopje and is the city’s landmark. It is situated on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River. The first fortress is believed to have been built in the 6th century, from materials of the roman city Skupi, which has been completely destroyed by an earthquake in 518. The construction of the fortress started during the rule of the emperor Justinian I, and continued later in the 10th and 11th century, over the remains of the fortress, which may have been destroyed due to a number of wars and battles in the region. Very little is known about the medieval fortress apart from a few documents which outline minor characteristics in the fortress’ appearance. In 1660, the Ottoman chronicler Evliya Çelebi, gave the best description of the fortress from Ottoman time, in his chronicles. The fortress was partially destroyed yet again by an earthquake in 1963 but was not reconstructed until recently.


In late 2006 and early 2007, research and excavation of the Skopje Fortress funded by the Macedonian government, had commenced. In May 2010, archeologists unearthed the largest stash of Byzantine coins ever found in Macedonia at the fortress.

Today in the space of the fortress is an arranged park, which serves for recreation and fun, and in the evening hours besides the sounds of the Macedonian folks music, the visitors have a wonderful view on the city and the river Vardar.