Alexander the Great Fountain in Skopje, Macedonia
Alexander the Great (356 - 323 B.C.) or Alexander of Macedon or Alexander the Macedonian (as he was known to the ancients) was an ancient Macedonian king and conqueror of the Persian Empire. He is considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all times and was inspiration for later conquerors such as Hannibal the Carthaginian, the Romans Pompey and Caesar, and Napoleon. Alexander was born in 356 B.C. in Pella, the capital of ancient Macedonia. His father Philip II was a powerful King of Macedon while his mother Olympias was the princess of neighboring Epirus. Both the Macedonians and the Epirotes were distinct ancient people. After Philip's death, the new Macedonian king first suppressed the rebellions of Macedonia's neighbors, the Thracians, Illyrians, and Greeks. With the conquered territories firmly in Macedonian control, the 22 year-old king invaded the Persian Empire with an army of 40,000 men. In the army were 25,000 Macedonians, 7,600 Greeks, and 7,000 Thracians and Illyrians, but the chief officers were all Macedonians, and Macedonians also commanded the foreign troops. Having defeated the Persians in three major successive battles of Granicus, Issus, and Gaugamela, Alexander marched even further to the east and also defeated the Indian king Porus. By the time of his death in Babylon at age of 33, the Macedonian Empire he created was the largest in the world, stretching from Europe to Egypt and India. In the next 300 years, the Macedonians will rule this vast area through the dynasties of the Antigonids in Macedonia (including conquered Greece, Illyria, and Thrace), the Seleucids in Syria, and the Ptolemies in Egypt. But the rise of Rome will put an end to Macedonian kingdoms. Macedonia and Greece were conquered in 167/145 B.C. and by 65 B.C. Rome conquered the Seleucid Macedonian kingdom in Asia. Finally, the defeat of Cleopatra VII in 30 B.C., brought an end to the last of the Macedonian descendants in Egypt, and with it, the last remains of the Macedonian Empire that was once the mightiest in the world disappeared from the face of earth. Today, Alexander's land is divided between the Balkan countries as a result to the Balkan Wars of 1912/13 when Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria occupied and partitioned Macedonia. Only 37% of historic and ethnic Macedonia is now free: the Macedonians in the Republic of Macedonia declared independence in 1991 in the modern capital of Skopje. However, Greece still occupies 51% of historic and ethnic Macedonia and the ancient capitals of Pella and Thessalonica remain under Greek rule. The last 12% are still occupied by Bulgaria. Both Greece and Bulgaria had been condemned numerous times for the oppression of their large Macedonian minorities.
Erecting of Alexander the Great Statue
On 21 June 2011 the Republic of Macedonia erected the largest statue of Alexander the Great in the world. As cranes lifted the bronze statue on top of the pedestal, hundreds of Macedonians sang the national anthem and other patriotic songs, waving flags and shouting "Macedonia!"
Some wept for joy, saying, "Alexander has finally came home," as one middle-aged bystander put it.
"I'm very excited also because I have a son called Alexander who lives abroad and when he was small he used to say 'I'm Alexander the Macedonian'. This is a great move by the government," another elderly woman said, tears in her eyes.
"This is a historic day that we have been long awaiting," another bystander said. "With this, Macedonia's identity is confirmed, here it is."
"I feel proud to be Macedonian and God bless our prime minister for having brought us this warrior, the king of Macedonians," said another referring to Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
Alexander the Great on Bucephalus Statue
The equestrian bronze statue of the Macedonian king riding his horse Bucephalus is 14.5 m (47.6 ft) tall and weighs 48 tons. Alexander is depicted as brandishing his sward high in his right hand as if he had just given the command for an attack. His left hand is restraining his rearing horse Bucephanus. Symbolically he is facing east toward Asia, in direction of Persia. The massive bronze rests on top of a 10 m (32.8 ft) tall cylindrical column pedestal which is a centerpiece of a large circular fountain. The complete structure rises 24.5 meters (80 feet) into the skyline and dominates the Skopje downtown square "Macedonia".
For a picture gallery of the Alexander the Great statue click here.
Column Pedestal with Marble Sculpture Reliefs
The column pedestal under the Alexander the Great bronze statue consists of three large marble sculpture reliefs depicting the victorious battles of the Macedonians against the Greeks and Persians. Alexander the Great is shown on all three sculpture reliefs while his father Philip appears in the one showing the Battle of Chaeronea where the Macedonians defeated unified Greece. Each of the three marble sculpture reliefs is separated by bronze ring with ancient Macedonian motifs.
For a picture gallery of the Sculpture Reliefs click here.
Bronze Statues of Macedonian Soldiers
At the base of the column are total of 8 bronze statues. Seven of these bronze statues are of ancient Macedonian soldiers in resting and battle formation and one depicts Alexander’s father Philip of Macedon. Philip is brandishing his sward in the air and facing south in the direction of Greece, in reference to his conquest of Greece. Each of the 8 bronze statues is 3 m (9.8 ft) tall.
For a picture gallery of the Macedonian Soldiers bronze statues click here.
The column pedestal stands in large circular elevated fountain with four steps leading to the walking ring. There are also 8 bronze lions, each 2.5 m (8.3 ft) tall, around the edges of the fountain pool, four of which act as part of the fountain, releasing water from their mouths. The fountain is illuminated with series of light beams from the top, sides, and bottom.
For a picture gallery of the Alexander the Great fountain click here.
At the base of the fountain is a very large mosaic depicting a typical ancient Macedonian scroll mosaics which are found not only in ancient Macedonia, but also in all parts of the Macedonian Empire including Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor. The fountain also plays music.
For a picture gallery of the Alexander the Great fountain mosaic click here.
The Alexander the Great fountain was officially unveiled on 8 September 2011, on the 20-year anniversary of the Republic of Macedonia's independence, in the center of the capital Skopje.
The fountain became an instant tourist attraction since the very moment it arrived to square "Macedonia" in downtown Skopje. Not only Macedonians, but also tourists from all of Macedonia's neighbors (including Greeks) have flocked to see the impressive monument. And the number of tourists visiting Skopje continue to break records every month. Organized large groups of tourists from European countries, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, China, etc roam the downtown of the Macedonian capital and take pictures of Alexander the Great and the many other new monumental classical buildings, bronze and marble sculptures that were erected as part of the government project "Skopje 2014".