From the hillsides of the Vodno mountain, General Picolomini observed on the blaze:
“I decided, although it was not easy, to burn the town into ashes. I am sorry for the houses such as I have not seen at all in this war. The mosques are from the highest quality marble and porphyry, decorated with thousands of lamps on golden plated holders, which one would devote equal attention even in Rome. I feel sorry for the nice antiquities, gardens and pleasure grounds. All this I give to the flames so as not to leave the enemy anything he could put to use.”
The Austrian General Enea Silvio Piccolomini (ca.1640-1689), an Italian nobleman with his root in Siena in Italy, led a campaign against the Ottomans in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Macedonia. During the offensive, the city of Skopje, (present-day capital of the Republic of Macedonia), was plagued by epidemics of cholera. Officially, General Piccolomini ordered the city to be burned due to an inability of his forces to occupy and govern a city so far from his headquarters in Vienna. Another “unofficial# reason for his decision probably was cholera epidemic that was raging in Skopje. The city was destroyed, the population declined from around 60,000 to around 10,000, and it lost its regional importance as a trading center.
We are going to take a walk through some of the structures, such as the Skopje Fortress, Mustafa Pasha mosque, the Ancient Jewish quarter and the Stone Bridge to tell the story about “The Great Fire of Skopje during the Plague in 1689”.