Skopje’s Old Bazaar is the biggest bazaar in the Balkans and outside Istanbul.
Located on east bank of river Vardar, the Bazaar has been a trading center since XII century. Skopje’s Bazaar grew fast and reached its peak during the reign of the Ottoman Turks on the Balkans. Various objects in the Old Bazaar, as mosques, “an” (inns), and other Turkish objects are proof for that. Although the Islamic architecture dominates in the Bazaar, there are few churches.
Archeological proofs found in Kale fortress suggest that Skopje’s Old Bazaar has been inhabited since 4.000 BC. The first historical documents refer that the bazaar has been inhabited since VI century BC by the Paeonians. In the VI century BC the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I built Kale fortress on a hill, a place where later the Bazaar started to grow. That area became main center of trade in the XII century.
In 1392, Macedonia was conquered by the Ottoman Turks who gave Skopje the name of Üsküp. During reign of the Ottoman Turks the Bazaar reached its peak and became one of the most important economic centers.
The town quickly turned into a place with domination of the Muslim population that shaped its new look, building numerous objects as mosques, inns, hammams and other Islamic objects.
Today, Skopje’s Old Bazaar is a part of the municipality of Cair with population of 64.773. More than a half of them are ethnic Albanians, one fourth are Macedonians and the rest of the population is a mix of Turks, Bosniaks and Romas.
Nowadays, several of the historic buildings in the Old Bazaar are used as museums.