The Old Bazaar, Čaršija, or Stara Čaršija in Macedonian, is an old Ottoman bazaar located on the eastern bank of the Vardar River in Skopje.
Čaršija stretches from the Skopje Fortress to the Serava River and the Stone Bridge to the Bit-Pazar. It is one of the oldest and largest marketplaces in the Balkans.
Today, Čaršija is not only an important marketplace, however. Due to its well-known historical and cultural values, The Old Bazaar is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Skopje.
If you plan to visit North Macedonia’s capital, don’t miss to explore the maze of Čaršija’s narrow streets, craft shops, mosques, museums, and its famous green and household goods market.
Stara Čaršija Through History
The Old Bazaar has been Skopje’s trade and commerce hub since the 12th century. During their rule of Skopje, the Ottomans developed the Bazaar into the city’s main commerce centre.
Merchants came from Dubrovnik and the far East and brought their products to trade in the Bazaar.
The history of the Old Town was turbulent. Stara Čaršija was severely damaged by the earthquake in 1555 when most of the city was destroyed.
In 1689, during the Austrian-Turkish war, Skopje was burned down in the fire that lasted for two days, destroying much of the city, including the Old Bazaar.
Skopje was set on fire by order of Austrian General Piccolomini. After the fire of Skopje, the city lost its regional importance as a trading and commerce centre.
In 2010, the Macedonian Government started a revitalisation project for the Old Bazaar. You can check out our main article about Macedonian history here.
Čaršija Walking Tour
Skopje Old Bazaar is much more than its shops and market stalls. Here, you will also find many galleries, museums, mosques, restaurants, and bars.
You may want to plan the whole day for your walking tour in Čaršija, as this is the second biggest Ottoman Bazaar in Europe, after the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
The Stone Bridge
Start your Skopje Čaršija tour at the Stone Bridge and enter the Old Town the same way merchants arrived at Bazar in old times, over the splendid arched stone bridge.
Daut Pasha Hamam
One of two Turkish bathhouses in Skopje, Daut Pasha Hamam, has been renovated and now serves as an exhibition space as a part of the National Gallery of Macedonia.
Stroll down the popular Kujundjiska or Golden Street and visit one of many pieces of jewellery, antique shops, and restaurants that serve delicious traditional food.
Don’t miss Skopje’s most famous popular green market with its open-air and tarpaulin-covered stalls with fresh local produce, spices, nuts, and loose-leaf tobacco.
Finish your self-guided Čaršija walking tour at the Skopje Fortress, or Tvrdina Kale that dates back to the 6th century. Although the fortress is not strictly part of the Old Bazaar, it is very close.
Therefore, it is the perfect place to end your Čaršija tour and enjoy the view of the city in a sunset from the fortress. The Old Bazaar area is open 24/7, with most shops open from 8 am until evening.