Dating back to the sixth century, Skopje's Kale Fortress sits on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River. Just steps from the Old Town, the fortress is thought to have been built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I using yellow limestone and travertine that came from the Roman city of Skupi, which was destroyed by an earthquake. The Kale Fortress itself was also partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1963, and excavation efforts have been underway for about 10 years, having thus far unearthed woodwind instruments and clay ornaments dating back thousands of years, as well as the foundations of a 13th-century church and the largest collection of Byzantine coins ever found in Macedonia.
Today the fortress is often visited on walking tours of the city, and visitors can walk along the restored fortress walls, which stretch for 130 yards (121 meters), or climb a couple of the turrets, which provide outstanding views all around Skopje. Theatrical performances are sometimes held in the summer.
The fortress sits just above the Old Town and is within walking distance of most central Skopje hotels. Buses 2, 2a, 8, 12 and 19 stop on Gotse Deltchev Boulevard below the fortress. The entrance is off Samoilova.
Standing at the top of Vodno Mountain in Skopje, the Millennium Cross is one of the largest crosses in the world. At 216 feet (66 meters) high, the landmark is as tall as a 20-story building and even taller than the Statue of Liberty. The cross serves as a memorial of 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia and was built on the highest spot on the mountain known as Krstovar, or 'Place of the Cross.'
Visitors can make the strenuous hike up the mountain or choose to ascend to the top via an elevator located inside the cross for incredible views around Skopje. In 2009, a restaurant and souvenir shop also popped up beside the cross, and two years later, the two-mile (3.5-km) Millennium Cross Ropeway opened with a cable car to bring visitors from Skopje to the base of the cross in under 10 minutes. Keep an eye out for the cross come nightfall when it is lit up and can be seen from miles around.
The Millennium Cross is accessible by bus from Skopje on the Millennium Cross line, which can be taken from the main bus station to Middle Vodno. From there, catch the cable car to the top. Buses leave from Skopje hourly between 8:20 a.m. and 3:20 p.m. Going back, the last bus departs Middle Vodno at 5 p.m. A one-way bus ticket is less than one Euro, although taking a taxi is also an option that should cost less than five Euros one way.
Skopje's three-story Holocaust Memorial Center stands in remembrance of more than 7,000 Jews from Macedonia that were killed in the Holocaust and the overall history of Jews in the Balkans. Set in what was once the Jewish Quarter of Skopje, the museum was opened in March 2011, coinciding with the 68th anniversary of the deportation of Macedonian Jews to the Treblinka concentration camp.
Travelers will enter the Star of David-shaped building to see a somber variety of displays featuring maps, videos, photos and English language wall texts, all designed to commemorate the Jewish culture of Macedonia that was nearly lost. The moving exhibits trace the history of the country's Jewish community, starting from their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula and move to the Balkans through World War II, when a devastating 98% of Macedonian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
The Holocaust Memorial Center is located on the Old Town side of the Vardar River, behind the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle and next to the Church of St Demetrius. It is an easy walk from most central Skopje hotels, just over the Stone Bridge from Macedonia Square.
Address: Iljo Vojvoda, Skopje, Macedonia
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.