The Sleeping Beauty in the Landscape


Once I had the privilege to shoot near the Skopje aqueduct. The area was restricted for visitors since there is a military stationnearby; we had to ask for a special permission for this from the army. I was then with another privilegetoo since I was shooting a documentary “One Day in the Life Of…” (which was a part of the omnibus of documentaries)with the famous French producer Eric Darmon with the director of photography Philip Millard. I remember that the whole crew was impressed by the calmness of this wonderful place.

The etymology of the word aqueductoriginates from the latin aqua (water) and ducere (lead). Indeed in some countries these kinds of buildings were also being used for transport of goods, usually with small boats that were sailing in the tiny channel on top of this colonnade. This building was built in the 6th century by the roman emperor Justinian I, yet according to some it was built during the Ottoman period in the 16th century. If the first theory is right, than this building was being used for water transport from Skopska Crna Gora (the mountain) to Skopje (in that time the city was called Scupi) Fortress. After the earthquake in 518 the city began to transfer towards its current position- the fortress Kale,which is the opposite one fromthe already mentioned- the antique Scupi one.  In 1669 the English heir d-r Brown wrote: “This aqueduct is beautiful old building, which brings certain dignity to this place.” On the other hand many historians quoted Procopius- the famous historicist who wrote everything about the rule of the emperor Justinian. According to Procopius this aqueduct was built in the period between 527 and 565AD. The current restorations are with a plan to transform this place into an interesting tourist spot with summer theater and big LCD monitors, that can help the tourists with their orientation.

Since the facade of this building and the one from Kurshumli An look so similar, it is more likely that this building was built for the needs of the new growing oriental town. However this can mislead the art-researcher since the Ottomans were reshaping many buildings from the old byzantine architecture. Also the ottoman architecture was evidently with a strong Byzantine influence, which builds up controversy in many buildings. Hence the Ottomans were spending big amounts of money to buy the perfect builders. They managed to buy some of the best architects from Italy and France, which they called neimars (builders). Unfortunately the working conditions were so bad that in many cases the neimars died from exhaustion just seconds after the building was finished.

Igor Pop Trajkov

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