Thursday, January 06, 2011

Napoleon Bonaparte in Skopje?!

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македонски на Блогспот · Наполеон во Скопје?!
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Autumn issue of Croatia Airlines in-flight magazine has an article on Skopje. Some of the history data are pretty puzzling.

The feature on Skopje, one of the destinations covered by the Croatian state airline, is available online in Croatian and English in the Autumn 2010 issue, pg 106-116. Most of it refers to Mother Theresa and the consequences of the 1963 earthquake. The photos don't look too fresh, even though the text mentions some more recent buildings.

The rest of the article is devoted to city's history. I got an impression that the author received a briefing from an overly enthusiastic source, someone with a burning desire to accentuate the city's importance over the centuries, with little interest for the truth. For instance...
  • "Until 1453, the city was the seat of Turkish Sultans."
  • "Napoleon himself choose the trade route through Skopje, a melting pot of cultures and religions, on his travels to the Middle East."
Napoleon indeed lead a Middle East campaign in 1798, but his route was over sea to Egypt, then over land to Syria, and then back to Egypt with sea voyage back to France. The impact of his passing through Skopje in either direction would have considerable changed history, as it would imply the destruction of the Ottoman Empire.

Still, my biggest objection is about the following claim from the article:
Prayer calls still resound from the slender mosque minarets which tower above the Carsi [Old Bazaar], and remind everybody of the city's multicultural past.
As if our present is not multicultural! And as if there are no functioning mosques with minarets elsewhere in the city in which about one third of the inhabitants consider themselves Muslim.

The illustration was made using two Public Domain works as basis: the painting by Jean-Antoine Gros "Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul, Reviewing his Troops after the Battle of Marengo" and an old photograph of the Stone Bridge.