Veles- City that is Rich with Architectural Beauty and Historical Heritage


When the greatest American composer Philip Glass had its concert in Skopje, at sometime between the millenniums, than the presenter Vanessa Redgrave said: “I always come here with my mum, to cry. You have zhivot skotski (life as a dog). You have Lenka.” This great actress[1] wanted to paraphrase our poet Kosta Racin and his poem Lenka, referring to her Scottish origin, because on Macedonian the phrase Scottish life means life as a dog. This famous Macedonian poet was born in Veles. He was desperately in love with the beautiful Raca, although he almost never met her. He took her name and replaced it with his family name- Solev. This is just one anecdote from the rich historical background the city of Veles has.


The other famous thing is connected with its position on the river of Vardar. Once the merchandising could be done only by water, there was a group of people that were trafficking on a boat on a relation Skopje-Thessaloniki-Skopje. They were called Gemidgii. But they were famous due to their capability to smuggle enormous amounts of arms in the then powerful Ottoman Empery. They used the arms later for fighting the Turkish enslavement. Namely this city had a very reach bourgeois class of Valach nationality. Their children were usually educated in the great Western Universities; such was for e.g. the University of Lausanne. The Macedonian revolutionaries would kidnap these children and ask money for ransom. Than with this money they were buying those arms.

As you may see on these photographs, today this is a very modern but picturesque city which architecture is combination of the old tradition and the latest modernist trends in the urban designing. What adjoins the city its photogenic appeal is the train railway that passes through it and the hanging bridge. The local environmentalists are proud of their achievements since this city used to be much polluted. But what perhaps contributed mostly for making Veles famous worldwide were the scandalous reports of some of the best information agencies in the world that were covering the events during the last presidential election in USA. They were about the sites that were producing fake news and became globally very influential. What strikes me personally is that these sites existed and before. Plus they were also very influential and famous previously of this period. But anyway some local entrepreneurs knew how to use this for tourist marketing.


However this city endures its historical importance for Macedonia and the region due to its rich cultural heritage. The reason why there are so many important local historical figures that were born here is that, as I already said- it used to be a very rich place. The first Macedonian theatre ever was built in it. Veles is also the home of the first Macedonian actress, civil library, high-school, music school and museum- as it has artifacts that are expanding from the time of Paleolithic era.


[1] Vanessa Redgrave this year won the life-achievement award at the Venice film festival

author of the text and photographer: Igor Pop Trajkov

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