Travel Destinations

The Tale of the Biggest Fortress

While driving down the E-75 highway from Skopje to Thessaloniki at some point the traveller experiences a drastic change akin to entering another world in fantasy fiction or horror movies. All of a sudden the highway ends, and while the driver is still adjusting to being on a much narrower road, the passengers are taken by the astonishing landscape including the wide Vardar River being swallowed by huge picturesque cliffs. And then, almost immediately, the car disappears in a long scary tunnel, which briefly opens in the middle, just to let you cast a look up on the huge vertical blocks of limestone rocks, and, then, down at the small river with stubborn vegetation below. The gorge continues beyond the tunnel as a larger canyon with the cliffs still taking the passengers’ breath away. And then you notice that it is not only the landscape but also the climate, the vegetation, and the air that have changed. This gorge is the present-day Demir Kapija, which translated from Turkish means “iron gate”. While the name refers to its strategic military position, Demir Kapija is also a natural gate and a climatic barrier between the continental climate to the north and the Mediterranean climate to the south. Of course, thanks to the wide River Vardar, occasionally, the Mediterranean influence may be felt as far as Skopje, but beyond Demir Kapija it is a rule. Read more…