Home Page
 
News 26 Jul 13

Skopje Marks Half-Century Since Shattering Quake

The Macedonian capital on Friday has commemorated the 50th anniversary of the devastating earthquake that changed the face of the city with a variety of events.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Poster for the theatre play 5:17 dedicated to the earthquake

“It was dawn. All of a sudden, cats could be heard mewing and dogs barking. Dreadful cries from animals could be heard from as far as the Zoo. Flocks of birds in panic were leaving the rooftops.”

Such is how one eyewitness recalled that terrible morning in 1963, immediately before the earthquake struck Skopje at 5.17am.

“Immediately after, there was a terrible, sinister silence followed by a strong roar. A cloud of thick dust covered the street. When it settled I saw that everything had turned to dust,” the quake survivor added

Fifty years on, Skopje has marked the disaster that killed over 1,000 people and left more than half of the 200,000 residents homeless with art performances, theatre plays, exhibitions and a commemoration service for the dead.

An independent performer, French audio artist Lea Promaja, has set up an interactive, traveling show called “Voice Earthquake”, which changes locations in the city throughout the day.

Passers-by are invited to listen to a creative audio documentary about the earthquake while observing contemporary Skopje through the hole of a box put over their head.

Authors Sergej Nikoljski and Milan Mijalkovic have made a sculpture in a form of a tent in the main park, dedicated to the memory of the time that homeless quake victims spent under open skies. “Erected amid natural surroundings, the tent becomes a symbol of freedom,” the authors said.

The independent Wonderland theatre from Skopje held a premiere of the theatre play 5:17. Directed by Nikola Vitosevic, the play takes its name from the moment when the quake struck.

“This play is to all of those who love the city, who resist destruction… and to the notion that the city is not a faceless 'factography' of victories and defeats, but consists of the lives of the people who imprinted their existence on it,” writer Goce Smilevski said.

Despite the devastation that it caused, the earthquake is also seen seen as a major turning point in the city’s development.

Some 90 countries provided aid in the aftermath of the disaster, after which Skopje was dubbed “the City of Solidarity”.

In the decades that followed, the city was rebuilt under the leadership of the Japanese modern architect Kenzo Tange.

“From an anonymous, marginal city, Skopje begun to rise from the dust of its ruined low-quality buildings. It turned into a recognizable centre of world solidarity, of leading urban design, modern architecture, contemporary art and earthquake engineering,” Goran Markovski, Architecture professor at the Skopje University, recalled.

Meanwhile, the official programme led by the city authorities, began on Thursday morning with a commemoration for the victims at the city cemetery.

Poster for the art performance "Voice Earthquake"

Mayor Koce Trajanovski later awarded certificates of gratitude to foreign representatives who either personally aided the recovery or whose country did so.

An exhibition will meanwhile open in the Museum of Skopje, which is situated in the old railway station, which partly collapsed during the disaster.

Itself a symbol of the earthquake, the clock on this historic building stopped at the exact time of the quake.

The main event is set for the city's central square where on Friday evening a multimedia art performance dubbed “Skopje Remembers” will take place.

“When everything else stopped, love, courage and solidarity continued,” the slogan of the performance says.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Headlines:

montenegrin-court-seized-marovic-s-property-08-18-2017
18 Aug 17

Montenegrin Court Seizes Marovic’s Properties

The high court in Podgorica has seized the assets of the former president of Serbia and Montenegro, and those of his family, until an investigation into how he obtained them has ended.

18 Aug 17

UN Court Ends Case Against Serbian Radical

Premium Selection

video-albanian-thailand-attracts-hundreds-of-tourists-08-17-2017
17 Aug 17

VIDEO: Albanian "Thailand" Attracts Hundreds of Tourists

Unexplored nature, azure waterways and the many opportunities for adventure have recently turned the Shala river valley into one of the tourist hotspots in the Albanian Alps.

turkish-purges-leave-one-mighty-army-weakened-08-16-2017
17 Aug 17

Turkish Purges Leave Once Mighty Army Weakened

Once one of the world's strongest armed forces, the Turkish military has been seriously undermined by waves of arrests and dismissals, experts warn.

15 Aug 17

Bosnia-Born American Sues US over Travel Ban

10 Aug 17

Balkan Parents Dream of Finnish Baby Boxes