The Skopje Aqueduct - History and Facts | History Hit

The Skopje Aqueduct

Skopje, Skopje Region, Macedonia

The Skopje Aqueduct is a stone aqueduct in Macedonia, possibly built by the Romans.

Peta Stamper

31 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Skopje Aqueduct

The Skopje Aqueduct is a well-preserved stone aqueduct located north of the Macedonian city of Skopje. Made up of fifty-five archways, the Skopje Aqueduct is the only aqueduct in Macedonia and its origins are unclear.

The Skopje Aqueduct history

There are three theories of the Skopje Aqueduct’s historical origins. The first dates the aqueduct back to 1st century Romans, prolific aqueducts builders across Europe. The aqueduct would have fed water to the Legionary settlement in Scupi. Scupi became home to many legionary veterans, founded in the time of Domitian around 81-96 AD.

Scupi was abandoned in 518 AD when an earthquake decimated the city. The Romans built aqueducts as objects of public interest and civic pride, supplying water to baths, latrines, fountains and private homes, as well as supporting mining, farming and milling.

The Skopje Aqueduct’s second history theorises it was built during the Byzantine Empire under Justinian I, shipping water to the new settlement of Justiniana Prima in today’s southern Serbia around 527-554 AD. Justiniana Prima served as the metropolitan seat of the Archbishopric, with jurisdiction over the Diocese of Dacia of the later Roman Empire. For this reason, the aqueduct is sometimes also referred to as ‘Justinian’s Aqueduct’.

The third origin theory of the Skopje Aqueduct dates the structure to the Ottoman Empire: the aqueduct was built in the 16th century for the many public Turkish hamam baths.

The aqueduct was used until the 18th century, taking spring water from Lavovec in the nearby mountains to Skopje’s city centre.

The Skopje Aqueduct today

Today, an impressive 390m of the aqueduct remains, its red-brick structure nestled amongst long grass and sprouting grass along its top. The Skopje Aqueduct is not maintained by any public or private organisation, so continues to fall into ruins and looks somewhat neglected. Neither is the aqueduct situated along any local tours.

However, visitors who take the time to stop will be rewarded by its fifty-five arches, a testament of the great ingenuity and engineering from ancient civilisations.

Getting to The Skopje Aqueduct

The Skopje Aqueduct is only 2km north of central Skopje. The aqueduct is near Ilinden Barracs, just off the Boulevard Slovenia down a bumpy road, so is easily missed when driving. Alternately, visitors can walk from the city’s central park in little under an hour, along and crossing over the river.

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Macedonian Historic Sites

Known as the Republic of Macedonia until 2019, North Macedonia's ancient history and multifaceted culture is home to a number of interesting historic sites.