Vardar River (Skopje): 5 Things You Should Know

While visiting Skopje, you can’t help but notice a particular river. The name of this river is Vardar. Here are the 5 things you should know about it:

1. It is the longest river in Macedonia

Vardar length is 388 km (241 miles), making it the longest river in the entire country. It rises at Vrutok, at the city of Gostivar, and passes through Skopje and then Veles. Vardar’s mouth is the Aegean Sea, near Thessaloniki.

2. Macedonia was known as “Vardar Macedonia” during the Ottoman Empire

As a name, Vardar has been used in conjunction with the country name (Macedonia) itself. The Balkans were part of the Ottoman Empire for 5 centuries. The part that now is called the Republic of Macedonia, was called “Vardar Macedonia”, part of the Ottoman province of Rumelia.

3. It is the only river you see when you visit the city center

You can’t help but notice Vardar when you visit Skopje city center. It’s the biggest thing that stands out. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this map of Skopje center. Anything that stands out?

here goes the map

4. The most successful Macedonian sports club is called after it

If you live in Europe, you may have heard of HC Vardar. It’s the handball club that won the European championship in 2017, beating the all-mighty Barcelona and PSG in the final. The club is itself named after this river.

5. Unfortunately, it’s getting more and more polluted

Macedonian local media is full of news about Vardar pollution. It’s not recommended you bathe in it, nor have any contact with the water. Hopefully, the government will take some precautions and make Vardar clean again.

There’s a famous Macedonian song, saying, “oj Vardare makedonski, ti ja krasis Makedonija”, meaning “hey Vardar Macedonian, you make Macedonia beautiful”. Polluted or not, Vardar is an indispensable part of Skopje and Macedonian history and will remain as long as this city exists.