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