By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
After the installation of the giant equestrian statue of Alexander the Great, the capital is bracing for another star attraction, an even vaster statue of Alexander’s father.
The 28-metre-high statue of Philip of Macedon will soon be finished and placed in central Skopje next year, the sculptor, Valentina Stevanovska, said.
“The statue is already being cast in bronze and will be finished in a few months”, Stevanovska told the daily Vecer.
Philip will be placed amid a luxurious complex of four fountains, overlooking Alexander’s statue from the opposite side of Skopje’s landmark Stone Bridge. He will be depicted in a standing position, unlike Alexander, who is riding a horse.
Officially, the entire composition is labelled “Warrior with accompanying elements”, presumably in a bid not to upset Greece, which claims Philip and Alexander as Greek heroes.
This follows the previous pattern in which the government officially described the statue of Alexander simply as “an equestrian warrior”.
Philip’s 13-metre statue will be placed on top of a 15-metre pedestal covered in marble and bronze reliefs making a total of 28 metres, closely copying the composition of the Alexander statue.
The fountains will be additionally decorated with accompanying statues of ancient warriors, mothers with children and galloping horses, said Stevanovska, the author also of the Alexander statue.
Meanwhile, preparatory works on the square are already in full flow. The basic contours of the pedestal and central fountain can already be seen at the construction site.
The facades of the nearby buildings are soon to get a neo-Classical and Baroque finish to better fit the “Antique” style of the city’s Skopje 2014 project.
The new statue is almost certain to draw more criticism from neighbouring Greece.
The statue of Alexander, which arrived in Skopje in June and was soon erected on the central Macedonia square, was seen by Greek officials as a provocative move that would further impede resolution of Greek-Macedonian disputes and Macedonia’s EU and NATO accession bids.
Greece has already prevented Skopje from joining NATO and is doing the same with Macedonia’s EU membership bid as a result of the long-standing dispute over use of the name “Macedonia” to which Greece objects.
The two statues are seen as the core of the massive government-funded revamp of the capital, named “Skopje 2014”, which the government says will beautify the shabby-looking city.
Several buildings and monuments are already in place or are nearly finished. The construction of a new national theatre, a history museum, a foreign ministry and a concert hall are at an advanced stage.
Work continues also on a triumphal arch, an obelisk and two new bridges. Dozens of large statues have already been erected in the heart of the city.
Skopje already has a much smaller equestrian bronze statue of Philip in the suburb of Avtokomanda. This and another statue in the town of Bitola were erected in June at the same time as the statue of Alexander rose up in Skopje.
Macedonia paid some 9 million euros for the Alexander statue, officials have said. The statue of Philip is likely to cost much the same amount.