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In Pictures 07 Jun 13 / 12:34:00

Skopje 2014: The new face of Macedonia, updated

The government funded revamp of the Macedonian capital, Skopje 2014, aims to give the city a more monumental appearance. The gallery has been updated with new photos, so check them out.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic BIRN Skopje

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.

Many more bronze and marble statues are also being erected to adorn the surroundings, including a triumphal arch, some 15 equestrian statues and a memorial complex dedicated to fallen heroes.

The piece de resistance is a 22-metre-high bronze equestrian statue of the Ancient warrior, Alexander the Great, standing on top of a white marble fountain in Skopje’s central square.

A similarly sized statue of Alexander’s father, Philip of Macedon, is placed opposite the square on the far bank of the Vardar River.

Old facades and bridges are also being revamped to match the project’s chosen aesthetics.

Since it was unveiled in 2010, the project has attracted controversy. Supporters say it will transform the image of a city blighted by decades of dreary Socialist architecture and neglect. They say it will restore a missing sense of national pride and create a more metropolitan atmosphere.

Critics complain about the cost of the job and the transparency of the contracts given to the architects and designers. Some say a relatively poor country should spend its resources more prudently.

They also say the project is an attempt to distract people from the country’s real problems, such as high unemployment, poverty and stalled progress towards EU and NATO membership.

Many architects are unhappy with the aesthetics of the project and would have preferred a more contemporary approach.

In April, immediately after the local elections, the government revealed a first-ever report on the costs of the project, saying it had spent a total of 208 million euro so far.

But critics dispute that figure and estimate the real costs of Skopje 2014 to be much higher, in the region of 500 million or even a billion euro.

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