On our second afternoon in Skopje, we stopped for lunch in the Old Bazaar, joined by Simon, one of the Germans we met during the free Skopje walking tour. We ate some delicious food: Tim and I chose Kebapchinya, Ana decided to get the ubiquitous Shopska salad, and Simon chose the baked beans. Over lunch, somehow we also suddenly decided to go together on a Millennium Cross hike.
We also talked about a lot of other things and discovered that we had a lot of things in common. Tim and Simon had actually gone to the same university, though they finished in slightly different years. Simon is a Political Science teacher, and my background is in the same field. Thus, we had really long and captivating conversations on interesting subjects.
What is the Millennium Cross?
The Millennium Cross is a 66-meters tall cross located on the Vodno Mountain in Skopje, North Macedonia. It was built to commemorate 2,000 years of Christianity in the region and was completed in 2002. The cross is illuminated at night and can be seen from many parts of Skopje.
It’s a popular tourist attraction and is often used as a symbol of the city, so it’s no wonder there are many travelers who want to hike to the Millennium Cross.
How to get to Vodno Mountain
To get to Vodno Mountain, you can take a bus or taxi from Skopje. The mountain is located just outside of the city, and the trip should take about 20 minutes by car.
You can also take the cable car from the city center to the top of the mountain, which offers stunning views of Skopje and the surrounding area.
Once you are at the top of the mountain, you can follow the trails for a Millennium Cross hike or head to other points of interest.
Millenium Cross hike or cable car?
Since we were getting along quite well and we had finished eating and drinking, we decided to keep at it during a Millennium Cross hike, on Mount Vodno. Upon reaching the cable car, I chose to grab this opportunity because of an old knee injury that was acting up. They, however, went for the climb with the shortest and hardest route out of the three possible ones.
After our hike to the Millennium Cross, we planned to go on foot to the village of Gorno Nerezi on the way down, so I got a one-way ticket.
Millennium Cross hike
The Millennium Cross was built as a memorial to celebrate 2.000 years of Christianity not only in North Macedonia but also in the rest of the world. The Cross is 66 meters tall. Krstovar (1,066 m) is the highest peak of Mount Vodno and also where the Millennium Cross was built.
Millennium Cross cable car
Open from Tuesday to Sunday. Closed every last Tuesday of the month.
Tickets cost 120 MKD for a round-trip.
Finding the trail to Gorno Nerezi
On top of Mount Vodno, I went to a small shop and asked about the trail leading to Gorno Nerezi. The clerk quickly put me in touch with a friend of his, who was just about to go back to Skopje, on foot. He led and I followed on the plateau, then into the forest. After walking together for a long time, I was a bit worried about being alone with a stranger. So I started to make some conversation and it turned out he was one of the owners of Kantina Restaurant Skopje. Small world!
We made our way back to the shop, and I waited around for my friends. I was hoping to remember the signs the guy showed me, as the mountain trails around Skopje are unmarked. I found a rock to sit on and admired the view until the nearby ants got the best of me.
After the other three arrived, we stayed to have a drink, and they then followed my lead to the correct path. The trip down was a lot smoother than expected and, by sunset, we ended up in Gorno Nerezi.
Dinner in Gorno Nerezi
Gorno Nerezi is a village located in the municipality of St. David, in Skopje, North Macedonia. It’s known for its medieval monastery, the Church of St. Panteleimon, which was built in the 12th century and is a popular tourist attraction. The church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered to be one of the most important examples of Byzantine art in the country.
We were hoping to get to visit the Church of Saint Panteleimon, but it was already closed at that hour. It was quite late and we were starving again, so we stopped for dinner at the Macedonian Village Resort. When it was almost dark outside, a band came onto the terrace and started singing some covers of Leonard Cohen.
Listening to a Civil Wars-ish Dance me to the end of love while eating a delicious dessert on a warm summer night, in the company of one of my best friends and other interesting people. When it was time to go, we took a taxi to return to the hostel. However, Gorno Nerezi is located just outside of Skopje and is also easily accessible by public transportation.
What more could one ask for to feel happy after the Millennium Cross hike?
Our last day in Skopje was perfect!
Church of St. Panteleimon
Small Byzantine church, built in the 12th century. Part of a monastery complex.
Address: 1010 Gorno Nerezi, North Macedonia
Macedonian Village Resort
From the three available restaurants, we chose the Macedonian Tavern. I strongly recommend it after the Millennium Cross hike. Open from 08.00 to 00.00 (from Sunday to Thursday) or to 01.00 (Friday and Saturday).
Address: Gorno Nerezi, North Macedonia
Who wrote about the Millennium Cross hike
Read more about Skopje after the Millennium Cross Hike
Skopje, our first stop in fascinating North Macedonia
Skopje walking tour with the entertaining Miha
Kantina Restaurant Skopje – Why you must eat here