I went to an Albanian tavern and ordered coffee in the Serbian language: There was silence, and then they told me what I have to be to drink it

While the new name of the state is a hot topic of our southern neighbor, we discover how's life in the capital of (Northern) Macedonia

Skopje is a divided city - polished new buildings in antique style, taverns, and numerous monuments in the new part of the city are a real contrast to the old city quarter of oriental looks, dominated by Albanians.

Kosovo's division is a topic in Macedonia: You will be surprised by the opinion of Albanian parties

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

However, I decided to walk further from the center of the city, which is crowded with tourists and which can be seen most of the times on the photos of Macedonian capital.


Some think that it is a largest Roma suburb on Balkans, Sutka, or more precisely the municipality Suto Orizani, on the outskirts of Skopje, and it represents the center of street sales in the city.

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

While I was driving on a bus with my friend from Spain to the last station in Sutka, people somehow watched us quietly. We exited at the roundabout and looked straight to the face of the Roman quarter: narrow streets, children running all over the place, and never finished ground houses.

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

- Man, the three of them are driving a single bike, is that possible - my companion noticed.

The largest flea market in Skopje is starting a bit further away - we barely went through in the middle of a workday, and as Macedonians say, not even a needle can drop there during the weekend.

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

- The same goods you buy in the center of the city can be found here for twice as less money. That is why everybody comes here on the weekend to Sutka to buy something - a Macedonian said.

While we took a photo of the sign with a street name that is named "New Life", one of the people passing by was mad at us for taking pictures of the suburb - not everybody likes the eye of the camera.

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

- There is no "hello", but rather, I will take that and smash it - a gentleman shouted with tearing temper.

"How's life in Sutka?" we asked a girl in a shop.

- It's nice, it's nice, everything is calm - she said.

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

Mosques, a large Macedonian flag and a view at the cross in the mountain on the other side of the city fulfilled this surreal image of Skopje. 

Around 70 percent of the citizens of Sutka are Roma people, and the rest are mostly Albanians. Most of them are Muslims, but there are also members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

- Roma people are loyal to the state, although they have the rights to use the Roma language in official documents they prefer Macedonian - said one of the people who knows this suburb.


To our amazement, the Albanian part of the city Cair is decorated on a roundabout with a huge monument, shaped like a two-headed eagle with the mark of Kosovo Liberation Army.

We stepped out of the bus at the next station and we entered the local cafe. They don't serve beer and there are no members of the weaker sex. 

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

We went further into the part of Cair which is closer to the center of the city and, unlike the rest of the suburb, there are no residential blocks here from the time of Yugoslavia, streets are curved, and houses and buildings are spontaneously spreading to the heights. 

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

We entered a small cafe with a group of Albanians inside. It didn't have a specific name and I asked: "Are you open? Can we have coffee here?". 

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

People were almost shocked. Of course, no one forbids Macedonians and Serbians to drink coffee in an Albanian tavern, but we surprised them in this hidden part of the city. They talked between them in Albanian, they started talking to us.

- This is a center of Skopje, but it is as if we are 500 years behind  - they started talking and explaining that the times are changing.

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

But, let's forget about politics. We came for a coffee. They started talking about football.

- If you want to drink coffee, you have to cheer for Real Madrid. We are joking, we are joking - they were laughing while talking to our Spanish companion.

And then the story began about Partizan and Zvezda.

- I am a Red Star fan! Hey... every derby between Red Star and Partizan 40 years ago, I watch all the games of Red Star, and the Champions league... - one of the people there remembered.

The time came when they had to go to a mosque. We drank our coffee and we continued...


Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

We must not forget that Skopje is one of those cities whose old architectural identity was almost wiped out by a terrible earthquake.

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

As a reminder of that day form 1963, there is an old demolished train station, with the clock that stopped at 05:17... There are tall buildings from the socialist era and brand new buildings which are constructed as an imitation of some style.

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

That is how this city became a real mix of different architecture. And while there are construction projects on one side of Skopje, the other side is a bit neglected.

Telegraf.rs / M. Beljan

We found a completely ruined Congress center in one part of the city which reminds of New Belgrade with its boulevards.

VIDEO: Macedonians don't want a new name for their state: 

(Telegraf.co.uk / Mateja Beljan / m.beljan@telegraf.rs)

Tags: Albanian Suburb, Albanians, Architecture, Balkan news, Buildings, Čair, coffee, Culture, Daily news, East Europe, Kosovo, Macedonia, New, Quarter, religion, roma people, Ruined, Skopje, Suburb, Šutka
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