In recent years, urban branding has become highly popular. Shifts in global, national, and local economic bases have forced cities and nations to market themselves internationally as cultural hotspots. As cities with distinct cultures and recognisable architectural features are often more popular than those without them, some that lacked those unique features have gone as far as to reconstruct their architecture in an attempt to “reinvent” themselves. Recent examples include Bilbao, Singapore, Taipei, Abu Dhabi, Qatar etc.
In an attempt to show themselves as progressive, nations often look forward in stylistic terms when they try to establish their cities on the world stage. The current government tried to do something similar, reversing the trends in an attempt to revive our “lost” history.
On February 1 2010, in an ambitious and uncanny revivalist attempt, the Macedonian government commissioned the reconstruction of the entire central district of our capital city in a quasi-baroque style. The project, which is called “Skopje 2014” includes the commission of countless sculptures of art and monuments of historical figures, a wax museum, range of new government buildings built in a neoclassical style, crystal domes update on the parliament, new bridges, an Arch of Triumph, fountains, and a gigantic statue of Alexander the Great. Or maybe The Great Horseman? We can’t really define the name of that statue, mainly because of the political games and problems with our southern neighbour.
The project continues with the facelifting of the surrounding buildings, built in the 1970’s, incorporating baroque elements on their facades. In one moment, the government felt that the image should be expanded on an European level, so they ordered a new fleet of vintage-looking double-decker buses to replace the regular bus fleet. Today, when the whole project is not