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News 22 May 12

Giant Statue of Philip of Macedon Erected in Skopje

A giant 29-metre tall bronze statue of the ancient warrior king, Philip of Macedon, was erected on Tuesday in the heart of the Macedonian capital Skopje amidst a cheering crowd of spectators.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
 

 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The statue is located in the middle of what will be a lavish complex of four fountains, currently under construction, and faces a similarly sized statue of Alexander the Great on the other side of Skopje’s landmark Stone Bridge.

Philip is depicted in a standing position, unlike his son, Alexander, who is on a horse.

The new statue is formally entitled “Warrior with accompanying elements”, a rather vague description apparently designed to avoid further upsetting opinion in neighbouring Greece, which claims Philip and Alexander as Greek heroes.

The statue of Alexander is formally entitled "an equestrian warrior".

The statues, albeit with inoffensive titles, are unlikely to help Macedonia's efforts to settle the name dispute with Greece. Last year, Athens sent a protest note after the Alexander statue was unveiled, characterising the government-funded sculpture as a provocation.

 
 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic


“Philip’s 13-metre statue was placed on top of a 16-metre pedestal,” Skopje’s Centar Municipality said in a press release. The pedestal will be covered in marble and bronze reliefs, closely copying the composition of the Alexander statue.

Although the cost of the statue and fountain pedestal beneath it has not been made public, the price tag is estimated at around 9 million Euros, about the sum spent on the statue of Alexander.

The entire square and the buildings around the statue are being comprehensively remodelled, and the nearby shabby-looking Ministry of Transport is soon to be upgraded with additional floors and its facade revamped in classical styles.

More bronze statues are also planned.

The placing of the new statue in the square was unannounced, and came just one day after the end of the NATO summit in Chicago where Macedonia once again failed to receive an invitation to join the alliance because Greece is blocking the move as a result of the name dispute between the two countries.

Greece has blocked Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations since 2008, insisting that the name Macedonia implies territorial claims over its own northern province of the same name.

 
 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

In an interview this weekend Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was asked whether he thinks he provoked Greece last year with his decision to go ahead and have the statue of Alexander installed in the centre of Skopje.

“If we irritate them, what word can be used for the things they are doing to us?” he said. “There is no greater irritation than 20 years of blocking, denial, underestimation, financial damage to the people and the country, even tension. This is not irritation, but a crime against a nation and a state.”

The statues of Philip and Alexander are centrepieces of “Skopje 2014”, a massive government-funded revamp of the capital, which the government says will beautify the shabby-looking city.

Drawing inspiration from the architectural styles of Classical Antiquity, the project envisages the construction of almost 20 buildings, including, museums, theatres, concert halls, hotels and administrative offices.

A number of bronze and marble statues are also being erected to adorn the surroundings, including a triumphant arch and an obelisk.

 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

See related gallery: Skopje 2014: The new face of Macedonia, updated

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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.