Poppies amidst the fortress ruins in Skopje, Macedonia

Kale Fortress, Skopje, MacedoniaI live in Rome, and each spring I watch the poppies growing in the high grass, peeking out from the ancient ruins.

On a recent trip to the Balkan country of Macedonia, I smiled as I visited the ancient 11th century Kale fortress to see that it was also overrun with the beautiful red blooms. They always look so pretty and colorful against the abandoned ruins.

I was in Skopje, Macedonia’s capital city, and took full advantage of the sun peeking out from the clouds to climb up the the fortress for views over the city.

Kale Fortress, Skopje, MacedoniaThe fortress walls provide an excellent view over the Vardar River and the city.

The Kale fortress was originally built by the Byzantines in the 6th Century A.D, under the reign of Emperor Justinian I (probably built over the ruins of an earlier Roman defensive site, when the city was known as Skupi). The walls and the fortifications were later extended under the Ottoman period.

Kale Fortress, Skopje, MacedoniaThe name of today’s monument comes from the Turkish name for fortress – kale. Today’s fortress is a symbol of the city, depicted in the city’s flag.

From my hotel room, I had a nice view to the fortress all lit up at night, but it was enjoyable to climb up and to get the view over the city from up on high.

When I was there I wandered the length of the walls without bumping into another tourist.

Skopje, Macedonia

View over the city, the Vardar River, and the Ottoman stone bridge

On my return, some school groups were beginning their visits, and some tourists accompanied by guides, but I enjoyed my early morning solitude on the fortress walls, watching the city bustling to life below.

So when you’re in Skopje, take a walk up to the Kale Fortress to stroll along its walls and enjoy views down below.

If you’re there in  springtime, look for the colorful red poppies sprinkled across the grass.

The fortress is open daily. Admission is free.

Kale Fortress, Skopje, MacedoniaKale Fortress, Skopje, Macedonia


  1. Peri Kaymak on June 3, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    I love red poppies! One of my fondest memories of spring in Cyprus when I was growing up.

    • kimberlysullivan on June 5, 2014 at 8:25 am

      Thanks, Peri! I’m sure they’re beautiful on Cyprus.

  2. evelyneholingue on June 3, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    My California poppies are dying! So it’s good to see yours.

    • kimberlysullivan on June 5, 2014 at 8:26 am

      Haha. “My” Macedonian poppies. It’s always so nice to see them herald the spring.

  3. DMartens-CWA on June 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Johansen describes these poppies in her Macedonia novel. http://ow.ly/xEtuP Thanks for the Richler like

    • kimberlysullivan on June 10, 2014 at 8:22 am

      Ooh, the link is broken… but I’m curious to see about the novel. I’ll look it up. Thanks!

      • DMartens-CWA on June 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm

        Thanks for the heads-up about the link. Hmm.

  4. AD on June 10, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Those same red poppies are all over the Balkans right now. They are so lovely! Great post

    • kimberlysullivan on June 12, 2014 at 8:36 am

      Ooh, I see from your site that you’ve been living in Kosovo. I’ve only been once, but what great nature. I’m dying to go back for a hiking trip … and will hopefully see all those picturesque red poppies. : )

  5. […] up the hills of Čaršija, on the way to the Kale Fortress (see my earlier post), I enjoyed visiting the small Church of the Holy Saviour. This 14th century church is the oldest […]

  6. […] other tips on Skopje, see early posts about visiting the Kale fortress and […]

  7. […] of Macedonia last spring. I’ve already written about many things to see there, including the Kale fortress, the historic and picturesque neighborhood of Čaršija and the impressive Ottoman […]

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