Stara Carsija, the place that you cannot miss while you travel to Skopje. The place that pulsates with life by day and offers plenty of spots to drink and party by night. You need to cross the river Vardar on historical Stone Bridge and leave behind the modern part of Skopje. Then you enter to ancient Ottoman market, one of the best preserved in the Balkans. Atmosphere of orient, jewellery shops and small restaurants serving traditional Balkan or Turkish cuisines. It feels like the time slows down a bit here.
One day, I entered this charming part of Skopje with different purpose. I wanted to find out where young people have parties and which places seems to be the most interesting. Is the night life here different than in Poland or other countries? I was aware that because of the winter season, Carsija didn’t show me real potential. Still, night life starts here quite late but lasts till early morning hours. So if you seek for party at 8pm, don’t expect crowded bars. During winter Old Town seems to be empty, some places closed so the best way to have unforgettable night is to ask about advice the local people.
This time I give a voice to young people and foreigners who live in Skopje and can share their experience.
Places worth to visit
Bojan, Macedonia: I choose Pivnica during the summer nights because you can enjoy the live music, contemplate the stars from the balcony and spend good time with friends while tasting various types of beer. By day I recommend Menada, perfect for work meeting or romantic date and if you’re hungry order delicious French fries and pizza.
Aleksandra, Poland: It is really hard to point only one favourite place in Carsija as there are so many magical corners, narrow cobbled streets and secret passages. I would say that probably the whole Carsija is my favorite place but if I was to choose I would point out Kapan An with its surprising content as it fits both a nightclub and a school for Muslim girls. I love the duality of its nature and the architecture of the place that brings you back to the times of Ottoman Empire. The second favourite would be bezistan, the hidden gem and the escape plan if you had enough of the crowd.
Milan, Macedonia: When I want to combine excellent wine, food and music bar Temov is the place where I go. I also recommend the pubs Star Grad or Old City.
Chris, South Africa: My favourite place in Carsija would be most probably Allure Bistro. The reason being is that on weekends they throw latino parties with salsa and bachata, and these are dances I enjoy, so it’s nice to practice my dance skills there. Also, they are usually open until quite late on weekends, I think till about 3 or 4am, which is good.
Aleksandra, Macedonia: Since I am studying at International Balkan University, where all of my friends are Turkish, Albanians, Bosnian… I started to hang out with them in the old bazaar of Skopje. Actively I am going there with them but still can’t stand out which place is my favourite. However, if you would like to spend your time ‘internationally’ during the day, to try Turkish tea or shisha with sun rays, go to Album Shisha or Nargile café, but don’t forget to take your sunglasses. And by night? Just put on your party clothes, bring positive energy and come to Allure Bistro. Right now, the best latino parties in Skopje are going on there.
Vafire, Macedonia: The place that I like in Carsija is K8te. I love this place because reminds me of Italy and Turkey. Even more because when I was there for the first time I had a really nice time with my Italian friend. It was wonderful spring night. The candles were lighting up the small street, I have great memories.
Kapan An, Menada and Allure were the spots pointed for most of people that I asked. It looks like they are obligatory ports of call while exploring Carsija. Note it!
We all know that good party is more about the people than the place. Having said that, I tried to indicate if Macedonian parties have something that might be different than in other countries.
Chris, South Africa: I would say yes, for most of the part. I had never been to a latino party in South Africa, but there are places like Kapan An which throw the occasional trap/drum n bass/dubstep parties which we have similar ones in my home country (in terms of venue size and atmosphere). The nice thing about Carsija parties though, is that for such a “small” area, there are a variety of parties, like live band at Pivnica, different style party at Connect, Allure, Kapan An etc.
Aleksandra, Poland: Parties are different but I don’t think it is related with Carsija on its own but with Macedonia in general. Pubs are louder, parties start later, if the weather allows (and it does for 7 months during a year) the crowd is out, you stand most of the night and jiggle along with the music.
Aleksandra, Macedonia: I have been to more than 20 countries all around Europe, and I can say that if you want to go to real party, just visit the Balkan countries, especially Macedonia. It’s not because I live here, but if I can define our mentality, we are people who have fun during the whole week, doesn’t matter if it’s Monday. Did you know that we have 8 ‘working hours’ per day? Of course, I am talking about party hours, where our partying time starts at 9pm till 5am. How it can’t be like that when there are different types of parties, for each taste, for each day of the week. But the most important thing is that we dance, even if we are in the bar, café, disco, restaurant… nobody judges if you are good dancer or not.
Chloe, France: Macedonian way of night life is totally different. First, because I’m going to latino parties most of the time and I don’t have them in my city in France. What’s more, usually I have the feeling that people care more of each other. Also, you can dance however you want! And since the beginning I felt welcome. It wouldn’t be the same in my place in France for sure.
Andrej, Macedonia: I think parties generally in Macedonia are different than other countries, not to say better. One thing that I have noticed about Macedonian parties is that people do not really dance and maybe Carsija is the place where it’s changing. Carsija has its own special spirit and it is interesting how it can transform from its daily life to the night life. I think now it strives for having more “European” spirit and I believe the influx of foreigners has an impact on that.
Toni, Macedonia: Kapan An, 5am, trance party and sunrise together with rain and rainbow , and we were all on podium dancing…
Aleksandra, Poland: My favourite party in Carsija took place at the end of the summer in bezistan’s cafe pub – Beni’s Yellow Submarine, as much as I like this place on its own, surrounded by Beatles and a bit industrial design while sipping alcohol makes it only better. In tight passage where the band set up the small crowd gathered. Leaning on the walls, nodding our heads while the music played, we enjoyed the performance of a great deep throaty vocal. The atmosphere of summer’s decline and coziness of this experience vibrated between old walls.
Chris, South Africa: The one day I was walking through Carsija with some friends from Macedonia, France and Estonia and we met an interesting old man who started speaking to us. We realised that he could actually speak many languages including French, Macedonian, Italian, Algerian, Turkish, and some Estonian as well. It was quite amazing, and it helped me realise that travelling and learning new languages can connect the world better.
Andrej, Macedonia: One of the most interesting things that I have seen in Carsija is when there is a derby in the Turkish football championship. Tea places are full and it’s great to observe this excitement and passion from the fans. I think it really takes you in a way to Turkey, especially with atmosphere.
Chloe, France: The first time I went to eat in the Carsija, I chose a random place, and in menu were just kebabs and beans. I never had beans at restaurant! For me it was so strange to not have variety of dishes. Also, one day I planned to join my friend, Antoine in the Carsija. We didn’t fix the concrete place and we didn’t take phone… Imagine, I was walking among labyrinth of streets without hope to meet my friend. And thank to some miracle we finally found each other randomly in a small street ! To me all the corners look the same and it’s hard for me to orientate, but it’s one of the reasons why I love the place.
Dafina, Macedonia: Once I took a friend from England to Carsija for some turkish tea and nargile. He told me that he had a feeling like being in Morocco.
Aleksandra, Macedonia: Well… the most unbelievable thing for me is that, whenever I go to the old bazaar, I meet someone of my friends. Sometimes if they are not available to join me, I am going there alone and again there are additional acquaintances whom I can join. I almost forgot to ask you… we all tried Turkish tea right? But did you taste Turkish tea with a flavor lemon, kiwi, orange, banana? Bring your sunglasses and come to the old bazaar, you don’t need a company, we are already there.
Definitely, Carsija is the glory of Skopje as well during the day and by night. So when the weekend will come, don’t sit at home. Remember, a little party never killed nobody.