Skopje skôpˈəlyə [key], city (1994 pop. 444,760), capital of North Macedonia, on the Vardar River. It is an important transportation and trade center as well as an industrial hub where chemicals, cement, machinery, and diverse light manufactures are produced. The city is also the see of an Orthodox Eastern archbishop and the seat of a Macedonian university (founded 1949).

There is evidence of inhabitation at Skopje 5,000–6,000 years ago. Known as Scupi under Roman rule, the city was later contested by the Byzantines and Bulgarians before it was captured by the Serbs in 1282. In 1346 it was the scene of Stephen Dušan's coronation as czar of Serbia. It fell to the Turks in 1392 and until the fall of Constantinople (1453) was considered the second city of Turkey. Skopje was taken by the Serbs in the Balkan Wars of 1912–13 and was included in Yugoslavia in 1918. It was occupied by the Germans during World War II. After liberation, it became the capital of the Yugoslavian constituent republic of Macedonia from 1945 until 1991, when Macedonia (North Macedonia from 2019) declared its independence.

Among the many ancient landmarks of the city are the Stone Bridge across the Vardar (said to date from Roman times and rebuilt in the 15th cent.), the Kale, or Skopje Fortress (10th–11th cent., on the site of an earlier fortress), the fine Mosques of Mustafa Pasha and of Sultan Murad (both 15th cent.), and the bazaar. Much of the city had to be rebuilt after a disastrous earthquake in 1963, and a controversial rebuilding project has transformed the city center since 2010.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Former Yugoslavian Political Geography