Skopje Earthquake in North Macedonia

Skopje Earthquake in North Macedonia

The Skopje earthquake, a devastating disaster in North Macedonia, occurred on July 26, 1963, leaving more than 1,000 people dead, thousands injured, and a large portion of the city destroyed.

Skopje, then part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, experienced a massive 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck at 5:17 a.m. local time. The tremor lasted for about 20 seconds, causing widespread devastation and rendering over 200,000 people homeless.

The catastrophe left approximately 75% of the city’s buildings in ruins, including many vital infrastructures such as hospitals, schools, and government institutions. As a result, the entire city needed to be rebuilt, and the reconstruction efforts spanned several decades.

In response to the disaster, countries worldwide offered their assistance. 78 nations provided financial aid, technical support, and other resources to help Skopje recover from the earthquake. The city’s motto, “The City of International Solidarity, ” recognized international solidarity.”

The Skopje earthquake had a significant impact on popular culture. The disaster inspired Yugoslav filmmaker Veljko Bulajić’s 1964 film “Skopje ’63,” which documented the aftermath of the earthquake and the ensuing reconstruction efforts. Additionally, several books and articles were published about the disaster, further raising awareness about the importance of earthquake preparedness and urban planning.

The earthquake also influenced the city’s architectural development, as renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange was invited to design the new city center. His modernist urban plan for Skopje became an iconic symbol of the city’s rebirth and resilience. Today, Skopje is a thriving capital city with a rich cultural heritage and a mix of architectural styles, serving as a testament to its tragic past and subsequent recovery.