viernes, 7 de septiembre de 2007
Tito's grave, humble and a bit kitsch, is located in the House of the Flowers, some kind of weird, old-fashioned place receiving few visitis from curious foreigners. Down the slope the stadiums of Partizan and Crvena Zvezda (Red Star) are located and a bit further the huge Sveti Sava cathedral (still under construction) can be seen. I wonder what makes so important a brand new religious monument when there seems to be so many other things to fix in the former capital of the Federal Republic.
Shared between Albania and Macedonia, Macedonians have chosen Ohrid lake as their favourite national tourist destination (not so many options for travelling after Bulgaria becoming a member of EU). At least, this landlocked Balkan country was blessed with beautiful Ohrid of turquoise and mild waters.
The small church of Kurbinovo, not far from Prespa lake, keeps the beatiful bluish fresco.There we met 4 cheerful and talkative girls aging 10-12 who guard the building and sell candles and small icons in the summer. "I won't complain to the Ministry for having the church unprotected", commented Branka afterwards.
In 1963, an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale almost leveled the city and left 1,066 casualties. Aid poured from all over the world and it was said that, on the eve of Cold War, Skopke was the only place in the world where US and USSR soldiers were (peacefully) working together. A significant example of the reconstruction efforts is the telecommunications concrete building on the right bank of Vardar river. Despite everyting, I kind of liked it after getting used to it.
A sculpture of national heroe Gjergj Kastrioti Scanderbeu ("Scanderberg") in the lower part of the Carsija reminds we are in an Albanian populated part of the city. Macedonians reacted to the erection of the statue arguing that Scanderberg was in fact of Slavic origins.
The small monastery of Sveti Nikola lies on a slope of the Skopska Crna Gora, 20 kilometres away from Skopje. There live three nuns, who hosted us with coffe and cake on a beautiful Sunday evening. The place is not far from Kosovo, so its quiteness is somehow threatened by foreseen tensions between Albanians and Slavs. "Many shqiptare [Albanians]", mumbled sister Praxia when the issue shortly showed up. [Thank you Ben, Kate and Branka for taking me up there]
6 feet underground. Under Turkish rule, churches were not allowed to be as high as mosques, so sometimes the floor was dug and the basement was well below ground level. Nowadays, minarets still shape the city's skyline, in this case as much as an advertisement of Spanish bathroom appliances.
Born in Thessaloniki, Sveti Kiril and his brother Metodius engaged themselves in the christianisation of the Slaves in the 9th century. With this purpose they devised the Glagolithic alphabet, based on Greek letters, which is the base of Cyrillic alphabet used in Orthodox Slavonic countries. That is maybe why Latin alphabet in Bulgaria doesn't look too healthy (church of Sveti Alexnder Nevski). On top, a scultpure of both saints in front of the National Library in central Sofia.
Last hours in the Balkans. A soviet monument to the Red Army "liberators" of Bulgaria stands with Mt. Vitosha (2290 m.) on the back. This mountain became the first national park in the Balkans in 1934 (I won't forget it, Mira, promise :). The sun sets and trip is almost over.