Skopje commemorates the devastating 1963 earthquake

On Wednesday Macedonia's capital Skopje commemorates 54 years since the disastrous earthquake of 1963. The early morning quake killed 1.070 people, many of whom were sleeping in their homes, and caused injuries to 3.000. Much of the city was destroyed, including some well known landmarks.


The quake was felt on 50.000 square kilometers, and the ground reverberated from 5:17h until 5:43h. It destroyed 15.800 apartments and damaged 28.000. More than 200.000 people were left homeless. The disaster sparked immediate outpouring of solidarity from across the world, and many countries, as well as the United Nations, helped rebuild Skopje.

Delegations from the city and various institutions will visit the memorial to the victims of the earthquake at Butel cemetery. The traditional blood donation drive is held at the Dare Dzambaz center, organized by the Red Cross, the city of Skopje and the Institute for Transfusion Medicine. Skopje Mayor Koce Trajanovski will also visit the Momin Potok homeless shelter, which has been expanded and had additional facilities installed.

The Skopje City Museum will open an exhibition of on the architectural transformation of Skopje, prepared by architects Jasminka and Ekaterina Namicevi, which covers the city development in the period between the two world wars. The Museum will also open an exhibition of photographs by German author Matias Shuman named Concrete Memories. Shuman has photographed the modernist and brutalist buildings put up during the reconstruction of the city, which grew exponentially after the earthquake.

A musical event to commemorate the earthquake takes place at 21h on the central Macedonia Square. It will include the Macedonian Radio Television Big Band, Biba Dodeva, Aleksandar Mitevski, actor Visar Vishka, the Falsetto children's choir, Slovenian sax player Vasko Atanasovski and Macedonian guitarist Vlatko Stefanovski. Danilo Kocevski, who has written books on the development and the urban legends of Skopje, will narrate the event which will cover old songs popular in the city.

At the MKC Youth Cultural Center, visitors will be able to experience the programs of the European cultural capitals, such as Mons, Plzen and San Sebastian. The event begins at 20h, together with an exhibition to painter Dimitar Avramovski Pandilov, who was killed in the earthquake. At 22:30h, MKC will host a concert by RIB, Sweet Rapscallions, Anna O. and Mark Olson & Ingunn Ringvold.
The 1963 earthquake is believed to have been the third such disaster to destroy Skopje during its history. In 518, an earthquake destroyed the then city of Scupi, which was located in the north-western suburbs of contemporary Skopje. After the devastation, the city was rebuilt in what is now the old city of Skopje. Nearly a millenium later, in 1555, Skopje was again hit by an earthquake that is believed to have measured 10 degrees on the Richter scale.

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