Guide to SKOPJE

RESEN AS A LITTLE PARIS

The apple is a well-known symbol of Resen, but yet another characteristical thing makes Resen to be special. It is the Saray of Ahmed Niyazi Bey. This story is about one unfulfilled dream and an attempt to bring one small part of Paris in the little town in southern Macedonia … no matter how unbelievable it sounds.

In the past, Resen was situated right beside the road of Via Egnatia and therefore had a rich Bazaar and even 15 inns. The people from Resen are proud of its architectural and historical monuments, but also of their fellow citizens. When you arrive in Resen the natives will point out the several things that you must not  miss during the visit- The Old Bazaar, the Ceramic Colony St. George (12th century) in Kurbinovo and the Saray of Niyazi Bey.

The Saray in Resen will always be a reminder of one of the most prominent citizens – Ahmed Niyazi Bey. He adored the city of Resen and because of that he got the nickname “resenli”. He served in the Turkish army, where he received the rank colonel. Later on he was one of the most active memebers of the Young Turks in Macedonia.

Ahmed Niyazi Bey

Ahmed Niyazi Bey Resen wanted to transform Resen into „Little Paris“. He wanted to build bridges, similar to the Parisian bridges on the river of Seine. His house was located just opposite the Saray and he planned to construct a bridge across the street to make it easier to reach the Saray. He was thinking of demolishing the existing bazaar and making a  new one with roads that resemble the ones in Paris. Obsessed with this dream, he also wanted to destroy the shops that were there, but the merchants from Resen did not accept the proposal of Niyazi Bey and because of that he got angry and burned 30 stores of the Resen guilds in 1910. Later on he paid them for the damage, but he did not manage to realize his idea to transform Resen into “Little Paris” because in 1912 the Turks left from Resen.

How did Ahmed got inspired for his dream idea? Everything was connected with one postcard (photograph) of one palace in Paris, which will forever change the history of Resen. Niyazi Bey got this photograph and according to it he started the construction of Resen Saray in 1904. It is not confirmed by now which object in Paris was depicted on the photograph. At first glance the Saray resembles of the Versailles palace, but others like to compare it to the residence of the Paris mayor (the former Hotel de ville de Paris).

Niyazi Bey built this Saray for himself, but he didn’t have time to see it finished. During the period  when the construction of the Saray was at its end, he was killed in Vlora, Albania in 1912.

Today, if you are passing by Resen don’t forget to visit the Saray of Niyazi Bey. There is the gallery of works by the Resen Ceramic Colony, which is one of the top 10 ceramic colonies in the world under the protection of UNESCO. Next year the colony will celebrate its 40th anniversary. The Saray is also home of the permanent exhibition of works by the Macedonian artist Keraca Visulceva, who left a legacy that after her death a part of her works should be exhibited exactly in the Saray of Resen.

Jordan Dukov

 

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