Skopje Fortress (Kale) in Historical Sources
*The urban settlement of Skopje at Kale for the first time occurred in the sources as Skopje Army at the end of IX century.
(Иванов, Й., Богомилски книги и легенди. София: 1970, p. 283)
*The folk tradition on the name of the city after the coming of the Slavic tribes has created its legend. According to the legend presented by G. Kajdamov (Легенди за Македонските градови. Скопје: 1981, p. 10) the fortified city that was on today’s Skopje fortress was protected by high walls and it was difficult to get inside. One would have to attack with arrows and spears. When attacking the fortified city, the leader of the Slavic army commanded: Attack the fortress with spears. The command “со копја” (with spears in Macedonian) was repeated many times by the leader of the Slavs. The words of the leader remained in the memory of the soldiers and the population for a long time. That is how the city started being called Skopja, Skopie or Skopje.
– Folk Legend.
* Uskufia (Skopje) is a big city with endless processed fields, with an abundance of grapevines and grains. It a day trip far from the city of Koritus on the north-east. Fardarij (Vardar) runs between them. – Arab geographer and traveller al-Idrizi (1100 - 1165)
* And he raised the church of Our Lady of Ljevis, called Prizren episcopate, and also the church of Annunciation of Holy Mother of God, which is Gracanica episcopate, and the church called Troerucica in the famous city of Skopje, and the church of St. George at the Serava river, and the church of St. Constantine in the City of Skopje…
- In his book “Lives of Kings and Archbishops of Serbia”, the archbishop Danilo (1270-1337) who held this position from 1324 to 1337 also gives interesting data on the city of Skopje, and especially significant are the construction activities of king Milutin described here:
* ‘The king gives the monastery land in the city of Skopje and on various locations in the Skopje district, bought from Kostadin Lipsiot and three members of the family of a Theodor: yard in the city, fields, villages, grapevines, hay fields, gardens, watermills, all bought for 300 perpera, except for the sales tax (inomin buy-out) and other expenses (eksod).”
"He gives ‘no-man’s’ properties of former large land owners in the Skopje district: Kalud’s places in Skopje and its surrounding, the village of Sulne-exalimou on Pasarel, Ilijas and Ananizeso and their properties, then the exalimou of father Kvocil and Hrptat pirg (tower) in front of the palace for the monastery soknica (ekonomat).”
"The property of the Byzantine land owner Apokafk: Apokafkov’s church of St. George and the surrounding broad space of the Serava river to Round Tower with the ruins of 60 houses, Apokafk’s court between the properties of lords Paskal and Holevat, to Round Tower and city gate – Kapicale.”
- Serbian king Mulutin’s charter, given to the monastery of St. George – Gorg of Skopje in 1299/1300 (The references to the city fortifications of the Kale are typical, while the churches of St. Holy Mother of God Troerucica and St. Constantine are also mentioned).
*"On the third day we left (Strumica) and we reached the town of Skopje that is in tribal areas… Skopje has its fortress (upper city, tower) and developed lower city, varos(jeborija)… In Skopje we met king’s mother-in-law; all Tribales obey and listen to him; the noble kaesaritsa was dressed in black as a sign of big grief.”
- Nicephorus Gregoras (1295-1359) in his work "Roman History". Interesting descriptions and features of Skopje, as well as praising the hospitality of the people of the Skopje area, whose wild temperament, lack of education and barbarian character are overshadowed by the “peaceful way of life and ally benevolence that is especially expressed in the time of need.”
*Skopje fortress was drawn on the flag of the portolan of the Catalonian sailor Angelino Dulcert in 1339. Skopje Kale was presented with four towers, flag and an inscription Scopi. - Александар Соловјев, Застава Стефана Душана над Скопљем године 1339, Гласник СНД XV-XVI , Скопље 1936, p. 347.
*"...In Skopje, the Ottomans first took only the upper town, the fortress for their needs. The first church sacrifice was the legacy of king Milutin in the Skopje fortress, the church of St. Constantine and Helen. Instead of a church, the first Turkish mosque in Skopje was built here with a thin minaret and a crescent… "
- The handwriting of the triod of the Khludov collection in the Moscow Historical Museum no. 162, completed on 6 January 1392, on the day of the Ottoman conquest of Skopje.
*The city was encircled with walls and fortified with towers (pirgs)- Logotet Gojko in the charter of the monastery of Holy Mother of God in Arhiljevica around 1355.
*"At night the gates were closed and the entry in the city was allowed only by exception.”
- Theodore Metochite XIV century. During his stay in Skopje he described the Serbian court, which was richly equipped according to the Roman principle. The ruler was surrounded by an entourage made of selected people, brave young men dressed in beautiful clothes, The king often set the table for his close companions and appeared in rich clothes decorated with pearls and gold. The table was filled with various food, served in gold and silver plates.