The Millennium Cross in Skopje is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the city. Standing tall at 66 meters, the cross is located on top of Vodno Mountain and offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding area.
In this guide, we will cover everything a tourist might want to know, see, and do when visiting the Millennium Cross, as well as share some of the pictures we took from our visit to Vodno and the Millennium Cross to see what you can look forward to.
A Brief Introduction to The Millennium Cross
The Millennium Cross in Skopje was built to celebrate 2,000 years of Christianity in the region.
It was completed in December of 2008 and stands 66 meters (217 ft) tall on top of Vodno Mountain, making it the second tallest cross in the world and the tallest in all of Europe.
The idea for the cross was first proposed by the late President Boris Trajkovski, who wanted to build a large cross on the mountain to symbolize the country’s Christian heritage and the resilience of its people.
The project was controversial at the time, as some saw it as a political move by the president and questioned the cost and feasibility of building such a large structure on the mountain.
However, despite the controversy, the construction of the cross began in 2002 and was completed in 2008.
The cross is made of steel and concrete and is illuminated at night, making it a popular attraction for tourists visiting the city.
Today, the Millennium Cross is a symbol of the city and a reminder of the region’s long history of Christianity.
It is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike and offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere on top of Vodno Mountain.
How to Reach The Millennium Cross
The Millennium Cross is located on top of Vodno Mountain, which can be reached by taking a cable car.
However, before arriving at the cable car, you will have to get to Middle Vodno either by taking the public bus #25, which costs $0.60 and takes around 30 minutes from the city center, or a taxi, which costs around $5 and takes around 15-20minutes from the city center, depending on traffic.
Once there, you will find the ticket booth to the cable car, where you will pay 120 MKD (around $2) for a return journey. If you choose to hike, the trail is free.
On the other hand, the cable car operates from 10 am to 5 pm, except on Mondays when it’s closed.
Additionally, remember that the cable car takes a 30-minute break between 3:30 and 4 p.m., so don’t get scared thinking that you’ve been left up there with no way to come down.
However, we aren’t sure how the staff in charge of the cable car ensures that everyone has descended before they shut down for the day, so make sure to check the operating hours and final descent times before your ascent.
These times can vary depending on the season, and being aware of them can help you avoid potential inconveniences.
Also, consider the weather conditions, as the cable car might not operate in case of strong winds or storms due to safety reasons.
Exploring The Grounds of The Millennium Cross
Once at the top of Vodno Mountain, visitors can explore the grounds of the Millennium Cross and take in the beautiful views from the observation deck at the base of the cross.
Here, you can also grab some coffee and snacks from the two snack bars in the area and shop for souvenirs in one of them.
In addition to the cross, the vast green area surrounding it has many gazebos and even a children’s playground so that everyone can take a moment to relax, snap a few pictures, and absorb the beautiful sight of the glorious mountains surrounding Skopje.
Unfortunately, you used to be able to go all the way up with a lift inside the cross and get an even better vantage point, but due to some unknown political controversy, that is no longer available.
From the few details we managed to gather from locals, it appears that the service was discontinued due to high maintenance costs, not due to an accident as we had initially assumed.
But despite this change, the view from the base of the cross remains spectacular.
While it’s unfortunate that the lift inside the cross is no longer operational, the beauty and grandeur of the Millennium Cross and its surroundings are still very much worth the visit.
Hiking on Vodno Mountain
Vodno Mountain is a popular destination for hikers, and there are several trails that visitors can explore.
The trails offer beautiful views of the city and the surrounding countryside and are a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area.
Now, there are seven main hiking paths to the top of Mount Vodno, which include the Slovenian Path, Buran Cvetko Path, Olympic Path, New Year’s Path, Pensioner Path, Paved Road, and one more.
Each path offers unique scenery and varying levels of difficulty and times of estimated completion.
To learn the precise details, you will find a board of hiking activities where the trails are described in great detail on the parking lot on Middle Vodno, which is the place where you will start your journey to the top.
However, as an example, the Slovenian Path is 2.1 km long and takes around 40 minutes for an average hiker to complete, while the Olympic Path is considered more difficult, with around 1-1:30 hrs for an average hiker to complete.
The Pensioner Path is considered an easy hike, despite the average of 2 hours it usually takes to complete due to its gentle inclines.
Finally, the hike from the top of Mount Vodno is only downhill, so it’s not too strenuous. The trail and scenery are also diverse, providing a pleasant hiking experience for most adventurers.
However, with that said, if you plan on hiking Mount Vodno, it’s crucial to be prepared for varying terrain and weather conditions, and it’s also advised to bring plenty of water and snacks as well as appropriate equipment.
Other Attractions on Vodno Mountain
In addition to the Millennium Cross, there are several other attractions on Vodno Mountain that visitors can explore.
The nearby Saint Panteleimon Monastery is also worth a visit for its beautiful architecture and peaceful atmosphere.
The monastery is a short walk from the Millennium Cross and offers a quiet and serene environment in contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city below.
On the other hand, if you are up for a day challenge, you can always try hiking from Vodno to Matka Canyon, which is another one of the city’s most stunning attractions.
The hike typically takes around 4-5 hours to complete, depending on your pace and the number of stops you make along the way.
The trail is approximately 12 km long and offers a mix of terrains, from forested paths to rocky trails and peaks.
In short, starting from the top of Vodno Mountain, you’ll begin your descent toward Matka. Along the way, you’ll pass through beautiful landscapes, including forests and open meadows, with plenty of opportunities to spot local wildlife.
As you approach Matka Canyon, the terrain becomes more rugged, but the views are worth every step.
The canyon is home to several ancient monasteries, a large lake, and numerous caves, making it a paradise for nature lovers and history buffs alike.
Once you reach Matka, you can relax and enjoy the serene environment, take a boat tour to explore the lake and caves or visit the monasteries.
There’s also a restaurant where you can refuel before making your way back to the city’s center, which would take around 30 minutes by car or around an hour with bus #60.
Remember to pack enough water and snacks for the hike, wear comfortable shoes, and check the weather forecast before setting off.
5 Quick Tips for Visiting The Millennium Cross
Frequently Asked Questions About Vodno & The Millennium Cross
Is there an admission fee to visit the Millennium Cross?
There is no admission fee to visit the Millennium Cross. However, there may be fees for certain attractions on the mountain, such as the cable car or the Museum of the City of Skopje, which costs 120 MKD ($2) for a return journey.
Are there restrooms on the mountain?
Yes, there are restrooms and porta potties on Vodno Mountain, located near the cable car station and the Millennium Cross.
Is the Millennium Cross accessible to visitors with disabilities?
The Millennium Cross and the other attractions on Vodno Mountain are accessible to visitors with disabilities. However, the hiking trails may not be suitable for all visitors, and some areas may be difficult to access.
Is it safe to visit the Millennium Cross?
Yes, Skopje, the Millennium Cross, and the other attractions on Vodno Mountain are generally safe to visit. However, as with any tourist destination, it is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded environments, and be extra careful of your belongings.
Are there guided tours available at the Millennium Cross?
Yes, there are several tour companies that offer guided tours of the Millennium Cross and the other attractions on Vodno Mountain. These tours provide in-depth information about the history and significance of the cross and the other attractions and are a good option for those who want to learn more about the area.
Can I take photos at the Millennium Cross?
Yes, visitors are welcome to take photos at the Millennium Cross (it’s one of the most picture-perfect spots in Skopje), but again, it is important to be respectful of the local culture and customs and to avoid disturbing other visitors or interfering with their enjoyment of the area.