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In Pictures 10 Aug 15

Skopje 2014: The new face of Macedonia, updated

The government-funded revamp of the Macedonian capital, called Skopje 2014, aims to give the city a more impressive and ‘historic’ appearance. See new images in this updated gallery.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic BIRN Skopje

Drawing inspiration from the architectural styles of Classical Antiquity, Skopje 2014 was originally announced in 2010, when the project initially envisaged the construction of some 40 monuments, sculptures, renovated facades and new buildings. Fast forward to 2015 and the number of buildings and monuments has tripled.

The revamp so far have given compete facade changes to the government and parliament buildings, and has seen the construction of dozens of new administrative buildings.

Many bronze and marble statues have also been erected to adorn the surroundings, including a triumphal arch, some 15 equestrian statues and a memorial complex dedicated to fallen heroes.

The piece de resistance is a 22-metre-high bronze equestrian statue of the ancient warrior, Alexander the Great, standing on top of a white marble fountain in Skopje’s central square.

A similarly-sized statue of Alexander’s father, Philip of Macedon, is placed opposite the square on the far bank of the Vardar River.

Old facades and bridges are also being revamped to match the project’s chosen aesthetics.

Since it was unveiled, the project has attracted controversy. Supporters say it will transform the image of a city blighted by decades of dreary Socialist architecture and neglect. They say it will restore a missing sense of national pride and create a more metropolitan atmosphere.

Critics complain about the cost of the job and the transparency of the contracts given to the architects and designers. Some say a relatively poor country should spend its resources more prudently. Click here to see BIRN's database documenting the cost of Skopje 2014 (in Macedonian).

They also say the project is an attempt to distract people from the country’s real problems, such as high unemployment, poverty and stalled progress towards EU and NATO membership.

Many architects are unhappy with the aesthetics of the project and would have preferred a more contemporary approach.

The price tag of Skopje’s new look has meanwhile also shot up, far surpassing the initially announced figure of €80 million, to around €560 million, a BIRN investigation has shown.

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