Archaeological excavations show that people have been living on the hill above what’s now the Old Bazaar since at least the Bronze Age. A town was first founded here in the early Byzantine era during the 6th and 7th centuries when the huge blocks of stone still visible in the fortress’ walls were dragged here from Scupi, the nearby town that was destroyed during an earthquake in 518 AD. From the 14th to the 20th century the Ottomans used the fortress as a military barracks, expanding the number of towers to 70, of which only three remain today. The 1963 earthquake flattened much of the fortress, including many of the walls, of which some are currently being rebuilt. Ongoing excavation work over the last decade or so has revealed many fascinating finds including ancient musical instruments and, in 2010, the largest collection of Byzantine-era coins ever discovered in North Macedonia. Best visited with the aid of a local tour guide, there’s not much to see these days, although the views on a clear day are quite spectacular.
Open 08:00 - 18:00.