News 11 Jan 12

Macedonian Arch May Be Wedding Scene

Gallery of Macedonia's new “Arc de Triomphe” will be rented out for events such as weddings, officials say.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Skopje
Photo by: Balkan Insight

Macedonians still await the complete opening of the city's triumphal arch, which was unveiled amid pomp in a ceremony last Friday.

Officially named the Arch of Macedonia, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said it symbolized the triumph of a nation that won its independence two decades ago.

But while the arch is open, the upper terrace and inside gallery are still off limits, frustrating the many curious visitors who swarm around the gate.

“The top terrace will open in a few days and in time will house a coffee shop,” a Ministry of Culture staffer told Balkan Insight.

The gallery is due to open in April and is conceived as a multimedia space that will offer space for a variety of events including weddings.

“We've already had couples who have expressed their wish to be the first to be married inside it,” the ministry official said.
 
The arch is designed to match the almost equally tall equestrian statue of the ancient warrior Alexander the Great, erected in the capital's central square this summer. Macedonian sculptor Valentina Stevanovska is the author of both monuments.

Photo by: Balkan Insight

Not everyone is happy, however.

The opposition Social Democrats have demanded information on the exact price tag of the outsized arch, estimated at over €4 million.

They argue that spending money on Neo-classical monuments is a poor idea for a nation with an unemployment rate of over 30 per cent.

The arch is part of the government-funded revamp named “Skopje 2014”, which the government says will beautify the shabby-looking capital.

Several buildings and monuments are already in place or are nearly finished. The construction of a new national theatre, a history museum, a foreign ministry and a concert hall are at an advanced stage.

Work continues also on an obelisk and two new bridges. Dozens of large statues have already been erected in the heart of the city. The estimated unofficial price tag for the project is €500 million.

In a marketing act, the Ministry of Culture has opened a souvenir shop inside the arch, selling small figurines of buildings that are part of the project, along with fridge magnets, key chains and puzzles depicting the city's new array of sculptures and monuments.

Skopje’s new retro double-decker buses, made to resemble city’s public transport fleet from the 1960s, are also part of the figurine offer.

Photo by: Balkan Insight

Photo by: Balkan Insight

Photo by: Balkan Insight

Photo by: Balkan Insight

Photo by: Balkan Insight

Photo by: Balkan Insight

Photo by: Balkan Insight

Photo by: Balkan Insight

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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.