Tetova: urban excursions

_City in search of an author

“Gods of two species protect the city of Leandra”. Some “follow the families”. The others”belong  to the house”.”We will call the first one Penates  and the other Lares. The true essence of Leandra is subject of endless debate. The Penates belive they are the city’s  soul, even if they arrived  last year, and they believe  they take Leandra with them when they emigrate. The Lares  consider the Penates  temporary guests, importunate, intrusive; the true Leandra is theirs.”

Tetovo is a city with a lost and separated history. If you ask to the inhabitants some informations about the old city, everyone narrates a different version. Some tell about an ancient ottoman part near the river, other tell about the orthodox quarter near Cyril and Methodius church. But the most part of persons answers with an empty look : “I don’t remember.” And the past seems to dissolve along the river or into the narrow streets of the hill.It is a  two names -city and  with a complex identity, still to define .It is difficult to build a future on a contested memory  but it is necessary  to look beyond and to imagine the future Tetovo. It doesn’t seem exist , as elsewhere, an image in which all inhabitants can relate to when they think  about their city.

Tetovo has two universities, but it isn’t an university city: the lack of services, the absence of entertainment places or meeting spaces for the students.There  are beautiful mountains and artistic and historical buildings but Tetovo is not a tourist destination. There is a large factory area  but it can not be called an industrial city. The city is lacking of a distinctive vocation and it feels a kind of suspension and wait.

The mountain of Popova Shapka, the spring of Banja, the painted mosque, the churches  and Ecolog building.The  citizens  speak about these elements with pride. It is necessary to start from here to find a new urban identity. The important thing is that this image of Tetovo is  expression of all communities inhabiting the city:  albanian people, university students, the Macedonians, the old people …

 Along the Illyria way, a lively street full of shops and cafes you can arrive in the great square, then you continue your walk  along the  Ilidenska street , a place of great change and renewal. In the last years Tetovo has seen a great urban growth and a big sprawl  but the city center continues to be the most popular, most loved part of the city. Services are concentrated in the central area and some  peripheral areas suffer from this urban imbalance.

The inhabitants request near to home services, an efficient road system, an improvement of public transport. In the  contemporary urban society mobility is certainly a necessary condition to accede to  goods and services and “the freedom of movement’ is an important aspect for a full and active participation in society. Accessibility is an  fundamental aspect to rethink the city in terms of spatial equity . Meeting people, asking  them what they like or what they would like to change is a starting point to learn to see the city from another point of view: that of the persons who live every day in this city. When we asked to the ihabitants wich would be the first action that they undertake if they were the mayor of Tetovo, they spoke about: green spaces, cleanliness, infrastructure, new water distribution system and new architectures. These voices are like little touches of color to paint the Tetovo that will be.

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