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News 13 Sep 13

Macedonia Plans 'Spanish Steps' for Capital Square

The Macedonian authorities plan to add a version of the famous Spanish Steps in Roma to Skopje as part of their efforts to beautify the city.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Macedonia's Transport Ministry has recently issued a tender to choose a firm to build a monumental ourtdoor staircase that Skopje residents have already dubbed the "Spanish Steps".

The staircase will lead down from an imposing commercial building that will be located on the main Macedonia Square.

The winning firm will have to buy the construction lot and erect the building along with the stairs, matching the line of the “Skopje 2014” revamp of the capital, which draws its inspiration from the architectural styles of Classical Antiquity.

Bidders have until October 8 to submit their offers while the Ministry said it will choose a winner by October 15.

To prove they are serious, bidding firms will also have to submit proof that they had an annual turnover of at least 5 million euro in 2012.

The intended attraction will pop up in one of the busiest pedestrian precincts in the city, an area that many previously deemed unfit for new construction.

In 2009, the government announced plans to build an Orthodox church on the site, but the project ran into protests and the plan had to be abandoned. The church site was relocated.

Last year, the government gave the building lot to the Central Bank for its new HQ but after some deliberation the bank returned the offer, saying it was unfit for its needs.

Skopje 2014 remains a work in progress. More than 20 buildings and dozens of statues and fountains are in place or are nearly finished. Among them are a new national theatre, a history museum, a foreign ministry and a concert hall.

An almost 30 metre-high statue of Alexander the Great and another lof his father, Philip, are also already in place on the square.

The authorities this year said they have spent some €200 million on the project so far. Supporters say it will transform the image of a city blighted by decades of dreary Socialist architecture and neglect.

Critics object to the chosen artistic style as well as to the project’s high estimated cost, unofficially standing at €500 million.


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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.