|Alexander on Macedonia Square|
Macedonia is a Balkan state bordered by Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west. Only 3 ½ hours away from Razlog, Bulgaria where we were based, we wanted to go to Skopje, Macedonia’s capital, mainly because it is the birthplace of the much admired Mother Teresa whose work gave her the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize and beatification as the "Blessed Teresa of Calcutta." A second miracle was credited to her intercession by Pope Francis last December 2015, paving the way for her sainthood in the Catholic Church.
|fall color, leaving Bulgaria|
We wasted no time going to the Mother Teresa Memorial, just a few blocks from our hotel. First we were so delighted with her statue in front of the House, the lovely gift shop on the ground floor and the magnificent trees behind. Then a gracious lady led us to her chapel. And as we entered, we were entranced in complete awe. We felt that, if this was the only thing we would see, our trip was already beyond well worth it. There can be no words to describe the place well. Even the picture does not capture the moment. At the museum, we touched the bed and table she used as a child. And there was a lot of memorabilia about a life well lived and aptly honored.
|the Chapel of Mother Teresa in Skopje|
Skopje had been inhabited since at least 4000 BC and remains of Neolithic settlements have been found within the old Kale Fortress that overlooks the city. After that, the city became held by many conquerors who won through many conflicts and wars: Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians, and Serbs. During WWII, it was captured by Bulgaria for the Axis powers but in 1944, it became the capital of Macedonia as part of Yugoslavia. Skopje developed rapidly after World War II, but this growth was interrupted in 1963 when a disastrous earthquake hit the city. In 1911, it became the capital of an independent Macedonia.
|Kale Fortress at night|
Unfortunately, we ran out of time to go to the Millenium Cross, about 35 minutes from the city center. But it shines so brightly at night from many places around the city no one would miss it. The landmark is a 217-foot high cross situated on the highest point of the Vodno Mountain, constructed to serve as a memorial to 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia and the world. Construction began in 2002 through donations from the Orthodox Church, the Macedonian government, and Macedonians from all over the world. A smaller cross had been on the spot at the time of the Ottomans. It was so mesmerizing to see and again, the pictures do not tell the whole story!
|Millenium Cross at night|