Ohrid: Wikis


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Coordinates: 41°07′01″N 20°48′06″E / 41.11694°N 20.80167°E / 41.11694; 20.80167

Ohrid and Lake Ohrid


Nickname(s): Macedonian Jerusalem, European Jerusalem[1]
Ohrid is located in Republic of Macedonia
Location in the Republic of Macedonia
Coordinates: 41°07′01″N 20°48′06″E / 41.11694°N 20.80167°E / 41.11694; 20.80167
Country  Republic of Macedonia
Municipality Ohrid Municipality
 - Mayor Aleksandar Petreski
 - Total 383.93 km2 (148.2 sq mi)
Elevation +695 m (2,280 ft)
Population (2002)
 - Total 42,003
 Density 142.97/km2 (370.3/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
Postal codes 6000
Area code(s) 389 46
Patron saints Saint Clement and Saint Naum

Ohrid (Macedonian: Охрид, Mk-Ohrid.ogg [ˈɔxrit] ) is a city on the eastern shore of Lake Ohrid in the Republic of Macedonia. It has about 42,000 inhabitants, making it the seventh largest city in the country. The city is the seat of Ohrid Municipality. Ohrid is notable for having once 365 churches, one for each day of the year and has been referred to as a "Jerusalem".[2][3] The city is rich in picturesque houses and monuments, and tourism is predominant. It is located southwest of Skopje, west of Resen and Bitola, and east of Elbasan and Tirana in Albania.

In 1980, Ohrid and Lake Ohrid were accepted as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.



In Macedonian, and the other South Slavic languages, the name of the city is Ohrid (Охрид). In Albanian, the city is known as Ohër or Ohri. Historical names include the Latin Lychnidus[4] or the Greek names Lychnidos (Λύχνιδος), Ochrida (Οχρίδα, Ωχρίδα) and Achrida (Αχρίδα), the latter two of which are still in modern usage.


Ohrid is located in the south-western part of Macedonia, on the banks of Lake Ohrid, at an elevation of 690 meters above sea level.


The earliest[citation needed] inhabitants of the widest Lake Ohrid region were the Bryges and Encheleans. During the Roman conquests, towards the end of III and the beginning of II century BC,the Greek Dassaretae and the region Dassaretia were mentioned, as well as the town of Lychnidos. The existence of the ancient town of Lychnidos is linked to the Greek myth of the Phoenician prince Cadmus who, banished from Thebes, in Boetia, fled to the Enchelei[5] and founded the town of Lychnidos on the shores of Lake Ohrid [6].

Distribution of cities in antiquity in the border of southern Illyria with Greeks and Thracians

The Lake of Ohrid, the ancient Lacus Lychnitis, whose blue and exceedingly transparent waters in remote antiquity gave to the lake its Greek name; it was still called so occasionally in the Middle Ages. It was located along the Via Egnatia, which connected the Adriatic port Dyrrachion (present-day Durrës) with Byzantium.According to recent excavations by Macedonian archaeologists it was a town way back at the time of king Phillip II of Macedon.[7] They allege that Samuil's Fortress was built on the place of an earlier fortification, dated to 4th century B.C.[7] Archaeological excavations (e.g., the Polyconch Basilica from 5th century) prove early adaptation of Christianity in the area. Bishops from Lychnidos participated in multiple ecumenical councils.

The Bulgarians conquered the city in 867. The name Ohrid first appeared in 879. Between 990 and 1015, Ohrid was the capital and stronghold of the Bulgarian Empire[8]. From 990 to 1018 Ohrid was also the seat of the Bulgarian Patriarchate. After the Byzantine conquest of the city in 1018, the Bulgarian Patriarchate was downgraded to an Archbishopric and placed under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

Floor mosaic in the Polyconch Basilica

The higher clergy after 1018 was almost invariably Greek, including during the period of Ottoman domination, until the abolition of the archbishopric in 1767. At the beginning of the 16th century the archbishopric reached its peak subordinating the Sofia, Vidin, Vlach and Moldavian eparchies, part of the former Peć Patriarchate (including Peć itself), and even the Orthodox districts of Italy (Apulia, Calabria and Sicily), Venice and Dalmatia.

As an episcopal city, Ohrid was an important cultural center. Almost all surviving churches were built by the Byzantines and by the Bulgarians, the rest of them date back to the short time of Serbian rule during the late Middle Ages.

Ohrid is credited[citation needed] as being the likely birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet, which was most probably created by St. Clement of Ohrid that further reformed the Glagolic alphabet created in turn by the brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius.

Ohrid's Old Bazaar

Bohemond and his Norman army took the city in 1083. In the 13th and 14th century the city changed hands between the Despotate of Epirus, the Bulgarian, the Byzantine and the Serbian Empires. At the end of the 14th century it was conquered by the Ottomans and remained under them until 1912. The Christian population declined during the first centuries of Ottoman rule. In 1664 there were only 142 Christian houses. The situation improved in the 18th century when Ohrid emerged as an important trade center on a major trade route. At the end of this century it had around five thousand inhabitants. Towards the end of the 18th century and in the early part of the 19th century, Ohrid region, like other parts of European Turkey, was a hotbed of unrest. Semi-independent feudal lords such as Mahmud Pasha Bushatlija and Djeladin Beg controlled Ohrid and openly defied the central government by not submitting taxes and by using tax money to bolster their own private armies. By the end of 19th century Ohrid had 2409 houses with 11900 inhabitants out of which 45% were Muslim while the rest was mainly Orthodox Christian. Before 1912, Ohrid (Ohri) was a township center bounded to Monastir sanjak in Monastir province (present-day Bitola).

Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Ohrid by night
State Party Flag of Macedonia.svg Republic of Macedonia
Type Mixed
Criteria i, iii, iv, vii
Reference 99
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1979  (3rd Session)
Extensions 1980
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Ecclesiastical history

Its first known bishop was Zosimus (c. 344). In the sixth century it was destroyed by an earthquake (Procopius, Historia Arcana, xv), but was rebuilt by Emperor Justinian (527-565). The new city was made the capital of the prefecture, or department, of Illyricum, and for the sake of political convenience it was made also the ecclesiastical capital of the Illyrian or southern Danubian parts of the empire (southern Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia, Transylvania, Moldavia, Wallachia). Justinian was unable to obtain immediately for this step a satisfactory approbation from Pope Agapetus or Pope Silverius. The Emperor's act, besides being a usurpation of ecclesiastical authority, was a detriment to the ancient rights of Thessalonica as representative of the Apostolic See in the Illyrian regions. Nevertheless, the new diocese claimed, and obtained in fact, the privilege of autocephalia, or ecclesiastical independence, and through its long and chequered history retained, or struggled to retain, this character. Pope Vigilius, under pressure from Emperor Justinian, recognized the exercise of patriarchal rights by the Metropolitan of Justiniana Prima within the broad limits of its civil territory, but Gregory the Great treated him as no less subject than other Illyrian bishops to the Apostolic See (Duchesne, op. cit., 233-237).

The Annunciation from Ohrid, one of the most admired icons of the Paleologan Mannerism from the Church of St. Climent.

The inroads of the Avars and Slavs in the seventh century brought about the ruin of this ancient centre of religion and civilization, and for two centuries its metropolitan character was in abeyance.

But after the conversion of the new Bulgarian masters of Illyria (864) the see rose again to great prominence, this time under the name of Achrida (Achris). Though Byzantine missionaries were the first to preach the Christian faith in this region, the first archbishop was sent by Rome. It was thence also that the Bulgarians drew their first official instruction and counsel in matters of Christian faith and discipline, a monument of which may be seen in the Responsa ad Consulta Bulgarorum of Nicholas I (858-867), one of the most influential of medieval canonical documents[9]. However, the Bulgarian King (Knyaz) Boris was soon won over by Byzantine influence. In the Eighth General Council held at Constantinople (869), Bulgaria was incorporated with the Byzantine patriarchate of Constantinople, and in 870 the Latin missionaries were expelled. Henceforth Byzantine metropolitans presided in Ohrid; it was made the capital of Bulgaria[10] during the rule of Samuil and profited by the tenth-century conquests of its warlike rulers so that it became the Metropolitan of several Byzantine dioceses in the newly conquered territories in the wider region of Macedonia , Thessaly, and Thrace. Bulgaria fell unavoidably within the range of the Photian schism, and so, from the end of the ninth century, the diocese of Ohrid was lost to Western and papal influences.

The overthrow of the Bulgarian empire in 1018 by Byzantine Emperor Basil II recovered Ohrid [11]. It became a seat of the Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid. At a later date some of the great Byzantine families (e.g. the Ducas and the Comneni) claimed descent from the Emperors, or Cars, of Bulgaria. In 1053 the Metropolitan Leo of Ohrid signed with Michael Caerularius the latter's circular letter to John of Trani (Apulia in Italy) against the Latin Church. Theophylactus of Ohrid (1078) was one of the most famous of the medieval Byzantine exegetes; in his correspondence (Ep., 27) he maintains the traditional independence of the Diocese of Ohrid. The Bishop of Constantinople, he says, has no right of ordination in Bulgaria, whose bishop is independent. In reality Ohrid was during this period seldom in communion with either Constantinople or Rome. Towards the latter see, however, its sentiments were less than friendly, for in the fourteenth century we find the metropolitan Anthimus of Ohrid writing against the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son. Yet Latin missionaries appear in Ohrid in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, mostly Franciscan monks, to whom the preservation of the Roman obedience in these regions is largely owing. In the thirteenth century, the noted judge Demetrios was archbishop of Ohrid.

Pursuant to Archbishop Arsenius II's petition, the Ecumenical Patriarch Samuel I had the see finally abolished as an autocephalous unit in January 1767 by an order of the Ottoman Sultan Mustapha III. At the height of its authority, Ohrid could count as subject to its authority ten metropolitan and six episcopal dioceses.

Buildings and museums (selection)

There is a legend supported by observations by Ottoman traveler from 15th century, Evlia Celebia that there were 365 chapels within the town boundaries, one for every day of the year. Today this number is significantly smaller. However during the medieval times, Ohrid was called Slavic Jerusalem[12].

Note: Besides being a holy center of the region, it is also the source of knowledge and pan-Slavic literacy. The restored Monastery at Plaošnik was actually one of the oldest Universities in the western world, dating before the 10th century.

There is a nearby airport, Ohrid Airport (now known as Apostle Paul Airport) that is open all year round.

Recurring events

  • Ohrid Summer Festival, annual theater and music festival from July to August
  • The Balkan Festival of Folk Songs and Dances, annual folklore music and dance festival in the beginning of July
  • Balkan music square festival, music festival in August in which ethno musicians from the whole Balkan peninsular participate
  • Ohrid Fest (Охридски Трубадури), music festival in August in which musicians from the whole Balkan peninsular are participating. This festival is held for four days which are divided into (Debutant Night, Folk Night, Pop Night and International Night).

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Ohrid is twinned with:


See also


  1. ^ Dnevnik newspaper - Interview with the ambassador of Israel to Macedonia (Macedonian)
  2. ^ Between past and future: civil-military relations in post-communist Balkan states, Biljana Vankovska, Håkan Wiberg, I.B.Tauris, 2003, ISBN 1860646247, p. 71.
  3. ^ "The Mirror of the Macedonian Spirit, Zlate Petrovski, Sašo Talevski, Napredok, 2004, ISBN 9989730385, page 72: "... and Macedonia in the Cathedral Church St. Sofia in the Macedonian Jerusalem — Ohrid..."
  4. ^ Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992,ISBN 0631198075,Page 273: "... The provincial capital Scodra and Dyrrhachium were seats of the metropolitans, and there were bishops at Lissus, Doclea, Lychnidus (Ohrid),
  5. ^ Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992,ISBN 0631198075,page 98,"the Illyrian Enchelei, the 'eel-men', whose name points to a location near Lake Ohrid"
  6. ^ Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992,ISBN 0-631-19807-5,Page 99:"... 99 victory would be theirs if they received Cadmus as king. After this had come about as foretold, Cadmus and Harmonia ruled over them and founded the towns of Bouthoe (Budva) and Lychnidus (Ohrid). ..."
  7. ^ a b "Culture — Republic of Мacedonia". www.culture.in.mk. http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=12676. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  8. ^ Old Hermit's Almanac by Edward Hays,1997,ISBN 0939516373,page 82: "... He sent word to Samuel, the ruler in the Bulgarian capital of Ohrid, that he was returning 15,000 of his prisoners of war. ..."
  9. ^ Mansi, xv, 401; Hefele, Concilieng., iv, 346 sq.
  10. ^ Bulgarian Folk Customs by Mercia MacDermott,1998,ISBN 1853024856,page 26: "... one of these brothers, Samuil, proclaimed himself Tsar, with his capital at Ohrid.
  11. ^ Dialogos: Hellenic Studies Review by David Ricks,2001,ISBN 071468189X,page 30,(By 1020 Basil had finally defeated Samuel and his son, and recovered Ohrid ..."
  12. ^ City of Ohrid official web portal
  13. ^ National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia. Macedonian currency. Banknotes in circulation: 1000 Denars (1996 issue) & 1000 Denars (2003 issue). – Retrieved on 30 March 2009.

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Ohrid and Lake Ohrid
Ohrid and Lake Ohrid

Ohrid is a large town in southwestern Macedonia on the shore of Lake Ohrid. A town of vast history and heritage, it was made a UNESCO heritage site in 1980. Nestled between high mountains up to 2,800 m and Lake Ohrid, it is not only a place of historic significence but also of outstanding natural beauty. Ohrid is the jewel in Macedonia's crown.


Archaeological finds indicate that Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in all of Europe. The lake itself is over three million years old. Ohrid town is first mentioned in Greek documents from 353 B.C.E., when it was known as Lychnidos - or, “the city of light.” Only much later, in 879 C.E., was it renamed Ohrid. The name probably derives from the phrase “Vo Hrid” – meaning roughly, “on the hill.” The town as we know it today was built mostly between the 7th and 19th centuries. During the Byzantine period, Ohrid became a significant cultural and economic center, serving as an episcopal center of the Orthodox Church and as the site of the first Slavic university run by St. Kliment and St. Naum at the end of the 9th century. At the beginning of the 11th century, Ohrid briefly became the capital of the great Samuil empire, whose fortress still presides over the city today.

Get in

By bus

There is a regular bus service from Bitola and Skopje. The bus from Skopje takes approximately three hours.

The easiest way to get to Ohrid is from Skopje, where buses run every few hours. A bus from Skopje takes about 3 and a half hours and costs €10 one-way. From Albania, there is a bus from Tirana to the town of Struga, just north of Ohrid, where there are taxis to Ohrid for about €5. It's a little bit trickier to get to Ohrid from Greece. From Thessaloniki, the easiest way is to take a train to Skopje and then hop on a bus to Ohrid. If you wan't reach Ohrid and Macedonia from Montenegro there is a regular bus line from Herceg Novi to Skopje via Albania, passing through Kotor, Budva, Bar and Ulcinj. Ticket price vary from place in Montenegro and most expensive is from Herceg Novi and cost around 25 EUR.

The Ohrid bus station is a few kilometers outside of the center of town (about a 30 minute walk). A taxi from the bus station to the center costs around 1 euro. In the summer, travelers to Skopje from Ohrid will want to buy a ticket a day or two in advance.

Ohrid - Skopje. 5:00, 5:30, 7:30, 10:45, 12:15, 15:00, 17:45, 19:00 Skopje - Ohrid. 6:00, 8:00, 10:00, 14:00, 14:45, 15:30,16:00, 16:30, 18:30

Call the busstation at +389 (0)46 260 339

By plane

Ohrid also has an international airport: "St Paul the Apostle" (IATA: OHD)[1] about 7 km from city center which connects Ohrid with Belgrade, Ljubljana, Zurich, Dusseldorf, Tel Aviv, Vienna, and Amsterdam. The airport is open year round but most airlines only fly during the summer, so check with your travel agent or airline for most current information. Ohrid Travel Agency located in Clifton, New Jersey, is an ARC accredited travel agency and offers low price affordable consolidator fares to Ohrid and Skopje from the United States.

Flights are operated between Ohrid and the following locations (although on occasional incoming flights have been known to be diverted to Skopje instead, without notice):

Mondays (28th May - 17th September)
Tuesdays (12th June - 13th September) with Macedonian Airlines
inbound on Mondays, outbound on Thursdays (14th May - 27th September) with Jat Airways
Sundays (1st July - 26th August)
inbound Tuesdays and Saturdays, outbound Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (from 20th April) with Adria Airways
Tel Aviv
Mondays and Thursdays (7th June - 30th September)
incoming on Fridays, outgoing on Sundays (year round) with Macedonian Airlines/Austrian Airlines (codeshare)
Saturdays and Sundays (1st July to 26th August)
Saturdays (yearround)

Get around

By taxi

Transport in Ohrid is inexpensive and covers all areas of the city. Taxi drivers may try charge tourists higher rates, so insist on a set price.

On foot

The city center and the old town is compact and best seen on foot. An interesting walk that takes in the main attractions starts in the main square. The city's museums are in this area. From here, visit St.Sophia Church, the Antique Theater. Finally, walk up the hill to King Samuil's Fortress. Plaoshnik, and St John - Kaneo can be visited on the return journey.

Ohrid at night
Ohrid at night

Aside of the lake, Ohrid is most famous for its ancient churches, basilicas, and monasteries where Saints Kliment and Naum with the help of king Boris I (students of Cyril and Methodus) wrote their teachings and formulated the Cyrillic alphabet used in the Republic of Macedonia, as well as neighboring countries Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro and as far as Russia, and many of the countries of the former Soviet Union. Most of these churches charge an entry which for tourists is normally double that what locals pay, but is still worth it. It is a good idea to cover up when entering a church, but most locals will understand the inconveniences involved during a hot Macedonian Summer. There is also a wonderful ancient walled fortress at the top of the city. Churches to visit include:

  • St.Sophia church 11th c. - Cathedral of Ohrid archbishops. Fourth basilica built on this same spot (the oldest one being a Roman basilica (courthouse)). Present church was built in 1035 by archbishop Lav, front facade with the towers and the open galleries was built in 1317 by archbishop Gregory. The side porch was added when the church was turned into a mosque by the Turks. Inside is the biggest composition of 11th century frescoes preserved in the world. The main altar has scenes from the old testament and an emotional procession of angels bowing to Virgin Mary. The side altars have a fresco of the 40 martyrs (Roman soldiers left to freeze because they didn't want to give up Christianity) which is very rarely depicted (in the left altar) and (in the right altar) portraits of Patriarchs from Constantinople, Jerusalem and Antioch, archbishops from Ohrid and Roman Popes (Ohrid archbishopcy always flirted with Roman Catholicism, so it would keep its important position with the Orthodox church). The small square in front of it was the main forum in ancient times. 100 denars
Dome of St.Bogorodica Perivlepta
Dome of St.Bogorodica Perivlepta
  • St.Bogorodica Perivlepta 13th c. - The church was built and painted in 1295. It is dedicated to Virgin Mary, Perivlepta (from [[Greek] Περίβλεπτος]] is a attribute given to her meaning "the Omnisicent and Clairvoyant". The benefactor was Progon Zgur, son in law of the Byzantine emperor Andronicus II. The church was painted by Michael and Eutychius, two young painters. Their work shows that styles later adopted in the Renaissance were already current in Byzantine art long before Gioto. The frescoes they painted have all the elements of the renaissance art except perspective. Important frescoes: (eastern wall) the portraits of St. Klement and Konstantin Kavasila (archbishop of Ohrid), detailed portraits with personal features; Lamentation of Christ, painted with many emotions, Virgin Mary is about to faint, a woman next is holding her, women are pulling their hair from pain in disbelief, on the right notice a woman acting reasonably and trying to stop another from pulling her hair, angels above the whole scene are crying, in the left corner notice a group of women doing what normal people do gossiping about what happened; (western wall) Prayer in the olive mountain as the apostles are sleeping take a look at their dresses and how well the artists worked with color and showed the roundness of the bodies; (northern wall) Death of Virgin Mary in order to present the holiness of the moment there is a bunch of angels coming from the gates of the sky to take her soul, above her stands Jesus holding her soul, notice her body and how familiar are the artists with the human anatomy. The figures painted by Michael and Eutychius are not presented the traditional Byzantine way, skinny, emotionless and with their thoughts wondering somewhere. They are presented like healthy, chubby young men with red cheeks. Mihailo and Evtihie are the first Byzantine artists to sign their work (on 20 different hidden locations, look on the front columns at the sword and the cloth of two holy warriors). Their work left strong influence on the Byzantine art. 100 denars to enter.
Ancient church St.John Kaneo
Ancient church St.John Kaneo
  • St.John Kaneo church 13th c. – most known for its scenic location, standing on a cliff over Lake Ohrid. Notable about the cute architecture is Armenian influence in the zig-zag line of the roof of the dome. 100 denars (There are only few frescoes left inside, but the feeling of standing in centuries used sanctuary is worth the entrance).
  • St.Pantelejmon – Plaoshnik - It has been very important religious center since early Christian times, if not before. It is the site of the first university in Europe, opened in the 10th c. and it is the place where the cyrillic alphabet was created. The church you see is a reconstruction of the church St.Klement built when he came here and opened the university. The 5 nave early Christian basilica in the middle of which the church stands is from the 5th century (interesting mosaics in the baptistery and in the side chapel covered with red plastic roof). The atrium was built on the side since there was no space in the front. It probably was the cathedral in early Christian times. When St.Klement came here in the 10th c. just the small round chapel that today serves as altar existed. Because of the large influx of worshipers that followed him, he enlarged the church by building the central part of the church and turning the existent church into an altar chapel, and he dedicated the church to St Panteleimon (protector of health). The closed porch and the belltower were added later in the 13th century. Before St.Klement died he dig his own grave inside the church. When the Turks came they torn the church down after a rebellion. It still attracted large number of worshipers and pilgrims so they built a mosque above it. Until recently both the mosque and the church were standing in ruins. The reconstruction is a big guess since they didn't know anything but the shape of the church. The height, the shape of the domes and the decorations are a wild guess. Free entrance.
the shore of Ohrid Lake
the shore of Ohrid Lake
  • St.Nikola Bolnički & St.Bogorodica Bolnička These two small churches were built with dormitories around them which were used as quarantine stations for visitors of the city. After the coming of the Turks the structure of the city changed and they lost their purpose, so they were turned into hospitals. That is where the name Bolnicki comes from (bolnica – hospital). St. Nikola Bolnički was built in 1313. The small addition on the roof is an influence of the Adriatic architecture and it imitates the belltowers of the churches on the Adriatic coast. The frescoes are in decent condition, a couple of interesting portraits of some royals and Nikola one of Ohrid archbishops. Look for the fresco of God’s hand protecting the pure souls inside a tiny window. St. Bogorodica Bolnička was built in the 14th century, and the frescoes are in a bad condition. Even though the church is tiny there is a transverse vault, so the roof would imitate the shape of the cross. 50 denars for entry.
Ancient Swastika mosaic at St. Erazmo
Ancient Swastika mosaic at St. Erazmo
Mosaic at St. Erazmo
Mosaic at St. Erazmo
  • Small St.Klement 14th c.- This tiny well hidden church is just few steps away from the Bolnicki churches. Just take the small narrow street opposite the Bolnicki churches. The small square is interesting since this street is one of the very few original streets remaining in Ohrid. It is shaped in form of gentle stairs so walking uphill would be easier. The steps are slightly curved towards the inside so when it is raining the water will stay in the middle. Opposite the church there is a traditional house. It is badly ruined but good for understanding the construction of traditional houses. The church is historically important since it is here that the bones of St. Klement were hidden after the Turks took the city. Free entrance; ask for the key in one of the houses around (they are allowed to say no).
  • St.Dimitria, St.Konstantin and Elena & St.Mali Vraci - This 3 small churches built around St.Bogorodica Perivlepta were all built in the XIV century. St.Konstantin and Elena behind St.Bogorodica Perivlepta has a fake transept so it would show a cross on the roof. They are all locked. If you are interested ask for the keys in St. Bogorodica Perivlepta, or in the houses around.
  • St. Erazmo early Christian church - The name St. Erazmo is a guess for the church in ruins that stands above Plaoshnik, built in the 5th century. It is important as an architectural solution, since it has a four leaf shape. Central solutions like this were built in Syria and Mesopotamia and they came customary much later in Europe in the 10th century. It shows that Ohrid had great ties with the early Christian centers and that there was an exchange of artists and minds. It has a three leaf shape on the outside and four leafs in the inside and it had a big dome in the center (notice the 4 huge basis of columns). Unfortunately the recent roof doesn’t show the shape of the church. There are some mosaics preserved, but they are not of best quality. There is also a small baptistry to the right with a four leafed shape with some excellent mosaics but they are away for conservation. Free entrance.
  • Old Bazaar - Since Ohrid was a big religious and cultural center, it never was an important trade center, which is evident by the size of its bazaar. It is a simple bazaar consisting of just one street. It starts with the food market (it used to be the animal market in the past). After the market the bazaar begins with a small square. On the square there is a 1000 year old tree and a nice fountain. Above the square the clock tower of Ohrid stands. As you walk down the bazaar on your left there are couple of stone stores, which is the only section of original stores in the bazaar. In the past, the bazaar was covered with grape vines, protecting shoppers from the sun and the rain. Very few crafts are preserved. A must is a peek into the Dereban filigree store, if you find it open. Mr. Dereban is very old and ill and he opens the store irregularly. The tiny store is like a museum with old jewelry and the old objects for melting and processing the silver. He is a legend and many royals, presidents and statesmen have shopped in his store on their official visits in Macedonia. The jewelry is not expensive at all. The bazaar ends with the main square that used to be the food market in the past.
  • Mesokastro Settlement - Mesokastro is the quarter right above the old bazaar, between the bazaar and the city walls. The name originates from the Latin term “meco castrum”, which means the city outside the city walls, where the poor used to live. It is interesting that the term has survived since ancient times. The houses of Mesokastro have incorporated parts of the city walls and in some parts they are not visible. If you have time walk around, since there are couple of old houses still standing and some of the streets offer great views over the lake.
  • Kaneo Settlement - Start the walk to Kaneo from St. Sophia church. You can reach it from Plaoshnik but you would miss out on the great views and the quiet streets of Ohrid. Kaneo settlement was the quarter of the poor fishermen. This the most scenic spot of Ohrid, standing below the rock on which St. Jovan Kaneo church is situated. There is a small beach overcrowded in the summer, and a couple of restaurants.
Upper Gate of Ohrid
Upper Gate of Ohrid
  • Ohrid Fortifications - The whole old town is circled with walls, which are crowned with King Samoil fortress. The first fortifications were built in the 5th century BC, but the oldest remains preserved are from 3th century BC. The fortifications were reinforced many times throughout history and what we see today is from the 10th century. There used to be four gates inside the city: Lower Gate - you’ll reach it soon after you walk from the main square inside the old part of the town on “Car Samoil” street. It used to be the gate through which regular visitors entered the city in the ancient and medieval times, just one tower of it still stands; Upper Gate - in ancient times it used to be connected with the ancient theatre by portico. It is well preserved due to the reinforcements made in the 16th century; Front Gate - near St. Bogorodica Celnica Church. It is the main entrance gate. Today it is just in traces; Water Gate - the entrance in the city from the lake, the place where it used to stand is not known.
King Samuil Fortress
King Samuil Fortress
  • King Samoil Fortress – From Plaoshnik take a small path through the woods to reach it. In the second courtyard there are ancient graves, remains of a round tower and a cistern. It offers great views over the lake and Ohrid. Free entrance.
  • Antique Theatre - The theatre is the only visible monument from ancient times. It is also the only Hellenistic theatre in Macedonia, the other three are from Roman times. Only the lower section of the theatre is preserved, it is not known how many people it seated since the upper section is missing (the arches in the behind are just decorative it is not something they unearthed). Free entrance.
    Robevci & Uranija houses
    Robevci & Uranija houses
  • Ohrid Traditional Architecture - When the Turks came they settled on the flat land along the lake and that became the Muslim part of town and the part on the hills inside the walls was always the Christian part, with the bazaar as a meeting place. As the city grew and the Christians were not allowed to build outside the walls, Ohrid developed very specific architecture with tight narrow streets and tunnels (houses built over the streets). The houses had tiny yards usually enclosed in the ground floor, and the houses grew over the streets on the upper floors since the locations were small. The steep terrain enabled everybody to have a good view of the lake and because of the strong sun the houses were painted white, so they would reflect the sun. Because of the winds from the lake the houses in Ohrid don’t have the open spaces that traditional houses in other towns in Macedonia have. Interesting houses can be seen all over the old town but the best examples are along “Car Samoil” and “Ilindenska” streets. Robevci & Uranija houses are the two best examples of traditional architecture. They are houses of very rich families (normally the houses were not this big). Especially rich in terms of architecture is Uranija house, with entrances on different levels and inside galleries. They have been turned into museums today. If you don’t have time, visit just Uranija this one is free, even though the top level of Robevci has great views, nice wood carvings, and some furniture (100 denars entrance). The house next to St.Gerakomija church is one of the few traditional houses that has been nicely and carefully preserved. It has been turned into a hotel now; Kanevce House On the right from the main facade of St. Sophia church, is the small house that belonged to Kanevce family. It has beautiful proportions and it is a good example of how they built on small locations.
  • Icon Gallery - In the courtyard of St. Bogorodica Perivlepta church is the Ohrid icon collection with some of the best examples of the iconographic art in Macedonia. It is considered to be the second most important and valuable collection of icons in the world after the Moscow collection, so check it out if you have interest and time. 100 denars for entry.
  • Zeynel Pasha Teke - dating from 1590, this teke is situated close to the old oak tree. This teke belonged to the Halvet dervish order. A mausoleum of Mohamed Hayati, who was the founder of this dervish order, can be found in the yard of the complex.
  • Go to the beaches - Apart from sightseeing, there are a few different natural beaches, usually the further from the city center the more scenic they become, and each offers a unique beach experience. Gradiste beach is known for many young people and music for instance, while others have families or tranquil atmosphere. Beaches are most crowded in July and August, and quiet the rest of the year, which is a whole different experience.
  • Ohrid Summer Festival [2] - The Ohrid Summer Festival is one of the largest and most important music and drama festivals in Macedonia. The first concert took place in 1961 in the church of St. Sophia, with its exceptional acoustics. The festival in Ohrid has a particular international flavour because of the participation of a large number of leading musicians and ensembles from the best known European and world music centers. There have been participants from 44 countries. This Festival has a solid reputation as it has gradually become part of the large family of the most famous European music festival. The Ohrid Summer Festival has its own sound conceptions, and it is able to draw up a musical program that includes artists of world renown. The Ohrid Summer Festival is held each year from July 12 to August 20.
  • Ohrid Swimming Marathon - Each year, in the second half of July, the swimming elite throughout the world gathers in Ohrid and, starting from the monastery St. Naum, they swim along the Lakeshore to the town harbour, approximately a 30-km route. Since 1998 the Ohrid Swimming Marathon has entered in the World Swimming Club of the 12 worldwide held marathons under the patronage of FINA-The World Swimming Association.
  • The Balkan Folklore Festival - Member of the UNESCO Association of The International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folklore Art, and The International Organization for Folklore Art. This festival has so far presented numerous original songs and dances from folk culture for more than 30 years. About 1,200 ensembles with 42,000 members have taken part in the festival.
International seller published in Ohrid
International seller published in Ohrid
  • Traditional Macedonian musical instruments, filigree jewelery, woodcarvings, items made from copper, or a CD with authentic Macedonian music, can be brought home to refresh your memories of your visit. The Talevi and Filevi are two Ohrid families who make genuine Ohrid pearl necklaces, earrings and broaches; they carried over this handcraft down from one generation to another. Ohrid pearl is created from the fish called Plasica, and is protected with a Designation of Origin.
  • Books from Ohrid to read on the beach or take home. Some of the modern buys in this birth place of Cyrillic literacy, include books from Happy Something Press, Ohrid's book publisher in English, founded by Macedonian born author and Oxford University student Evangelina Cifliganec [3], known for her contemporary novel "Happy Something". Its 2nd edition was published by the publisher's Ohrid branch, HappySomething.com [4], as the author was said to be inspired by Ohrid. You might find it easier online as the price of the English version there is higher and not always in stock.


Restaurants and hotels throughout Macedonia are proudly displaying Ohrid trout (Ohridska pastrmka) on their menus because it is very delicious but it is illegal to catch the fish along the Macedonian shoreline of Lake Ohrid. Please do not support or encourage the consumption of the trout. Ohrid trout, an ancient living fish, is in severe danger. There is also another trout species called Belvica. Some popular restaurants in Ohrid known to most people in town simply by the name are:

  • Belvedere, - in the city center Tel: +389 46 265 117
  • Gino Italian Restaurant, - in the city center +389 46 253 568
  • Dalga, - with a terrace over the lake in the old part of town +389 46 25 999
  • St. Sofia, - in the old part of town overlooking the cathedral church St.Sofia +389 46 260 359
  • Galeo Fish Restaurant, - in the city center +389 46 285 631
  • Biljanini Izvori, - meaning Biljana's Springs, 5km away from the city center at the famous Biljana Springs +389 46 265 141
  • PizzaCafe – the Big Blue, - city center +389 46 261 242

Try these foods:

  • Ribna Čorba, a traditional fish soup served in most restaurants, mostly as a starter.
  • Burek, a layered pastry inherited from Ottoman times and popular for breakfast here. Choose with meat, cheese or spinach/cheese (arguably the best), and take a cup of traditional Macedonian yogurt. Modest looking place Burekđilnica Igor makes the best burek in town, Žito Leb's is also good.
  • Makalo, a starter spread made with garlic and yogurt.
  • Gjomleze, baked layered pancakes cut in a rhomboid shape, and usually served with white cheese.


The traditional Macedonian alcoholic beverages are rakija and mastika. Boza is a refreshing drink on a hot summer day; it was spread throughout Macedonia with the arrival of the Turks and it has significant nutritional value. Other popular drinks are Macedonian wines called Kavadarka and Smederevka and Skopsko beer.


Main forms of accommodation are private houses, apartments and villas. For an average price of around 10 - €15 per night, you will find an excellent private facilities, located mostly in the Old Town. While arriving there, to get a host you can ask at the nearest Tourist Information Bureau (at the bus station, for example). However, the best solution is to make your reservation in advance via Internet or phone, having in mind the growing popularity of Ohrid as tourist destination:

  • Vila Luka (Luka apartments), Nikola Karev 9, +38946263850, [5].  edit
  • Adeona Apartmani, +389 70 391 201, (email: info@visitohrid.com.mk), [6]. Private 4 star apartments located right near the Lake of Ohrid in Ohrid. Contact Nade Andreeska. Total capacity: 8 beds.
  • apartments ROSANA**, Old Town, address: Ul. Ilindenska 4 (close to the church St. Sophia), +389 70 550 590 (), [7]. Family house overlooking the lake, quiet yard, a garden-terrace with a private beach, excellent conditions for families. You are welcome in Ohrid, max. 10 persons. (41°06'41N,20°47'39.1E) edit
  • Albergo Mimi Ohrid, Straso Pindur,2, +389 46 250 103 (), [8]. Guest House, quiet yard. 10 EUR Per Person, Per Night. (41°08'41N,20°45'39.1E) edit
  • Alberta Apartment,on the ideal location in the city centre, still quiet,historical sites within reach.E-mail:alihnidos@hotmail.com !
  • Antonio Guesthouse Ohrid, Dejan Vojvoda str No.94, +38970736906 (). Nice family guesthouse in the center of the city. There are 4 double and twin triple bed rooms, car parking, free Wi-Fi Internet, cable TV, and bathroom.  edit
  • Gradište campsite (about 30 minutes south of Ohrid by the lake)[9]. Offers cheaper rates, but the toilet facilities are old-fashioned stand-up toilets.
  • Grebnos Stone-House Apartments Grebnos Stone house apartments, located in the heart of the city of Ohrid in Macedonia, is the perfect place for your stay. All the rooms are made of stone walls, giving you the feeling of being inside a cave. The rooms have magnificent views of Lake Ohrid. You can overlook everything and still keep your privacy. visit: [10] e-mail: info@grebnos.com or call: +38946272625 for more information.
  • Jovan Apartments, Dimitar Vlahov 20 (Old bus station), +389 70 35 20 25, [11]. 2 apartmetns in the strict center of Ohrid.Lowest prices in Ohrid area.  edit
  • Matjan apartments, +38970 249908, Ul.Kuzman Josifoski 2, (email: matjanappartments@mail.com), [12]. Luxury 4 star apartments, located in the very centre of the city, by the coast of the lake.
  • Metropol-Bellevue, Tel: 389-277-660 [13]. This four star hotel is on the lake in the center.
  • Old Town Accommodation, Ul. Ilindenska 3, +389 70 642 809, (email: ohridrooms@yahoo.com )[14]. A quiet place to stay in the old town of Ohrid. Private accommodation with rooms and apartments, situated near the Catedral church of St. Sophia.
  • Risto's Guesthouse, 23 village of Elsani (Located on the western slopes of Galichitsa National Park in the village of Elshani, 10 km south of Ohrid, Macedonia and 1.5 km driving distance from the shores of Lake Ohrid.), +389 75 977 930 (). checkin: 12:00-0:00; checkout: 11:00-12:00. The guesthouse has clean and tidy single and double rooms. The hosts serve home made drinks, home made bread and traditional food. All rooms have a terrace and prices include breakfast. 15 euro per person.  edit
  • Tiffany Apartment, +389 46 270 090, (email: tiffany.apt@gmail.com), [15]. This charming apartment is in the city centre of Ohrid, in a vibrant and lively area with no shortage of things to do, just walk in any direction and you can have Ohrid at your fingertips!
  • Villa Filip, +389 70 248 005, (email: gnedelkoska@yahoo.com), [16]. Private 4 star Villa located right near the Lake of Ohrid in Trpejca Village, 18 km from Ohrid. Contact Gabriela Nedelkoska. Total capacity: 14 beds.
  • Villa Germanoff, Ohrid Old Town, on the lake shore, near the cathedral church St. Sofia and the National Museum (email: germanoff@visitohrid.com.mk), [17]. One of the most exclusive private accommodation facilities in Ohrid. Contact phone number: +389 46 266 831
  • Villa St Clement the Lesser, Metodij Patce 10 (located near the Lower Gate), +389 46 250 655, [18]. Exclusive 4-star villa in a quiet alley away from the traffic. 40-70€ apartment. (41° 6'45.54N,20°47'49.09E) edit
  • Sunny Lake Hostel, +38975629571, (email: [info@sunnylakehostel.com]), [sunnylakehostel.com]. Cosy Hostel,two minutes walk from the center of town. Dorms- 12 Euro, Private rooms- 12 Euro per person. Breakfast included. The most comfortable beds ever!!! Total capacity: 35 beds.
  • Travel2Ohrid, Private accommodation in Ohrid Macedonia,(email: [info@travel2ohrid.com]) [19].Apartments, rooms, villas for rent if you plan to visit beautiful city Ohrid. Direct contact with owners!

Get out

East coast of Lake Ohrid:

Summer afternoons, view from St.Stephan village
Summer afternoons, view from St.Stephan village

The east coast is the most beautiful part of Ohrid Lake. It is part of Galičica National Park and it is protected by UNESCO along with the lake for its natural values. The first part of the east coast is less interesting, the road goes along the lake and is lined with hotels, tourist settlements and organized beaches.

  • Gorica Hotel beach – this is maybe the most beautiful beach on the coast, its covered with small pebbles and it is cut between deep rocks. Unfortunately it can get very crowded, so come here in early morning or late afternoon. If you visit Ohrid off-season this is the place to come and enjoy a great swim. There is a small cafe on the beach where one might also get some snacks and ice cream or rent beach beds. Walking along the cost from the city center to this beach is scenic, even more past it, and takes about 1.5 hrs. The presidential Villa Ohrid, where the Balkan's Peace Framework was signed, is in the woods near there too.
  • St.Stefan Cave church 14th c. If you have time take the scenic walk, up to 1 hr, along the coast from Gorica Hotel beach.
  • Elshani village Elsani is the perfect place to relax and recharge. Just sitting on the terrace of a guesthouse, drinking a coffee and enjoying the view of the lake is an experience in itself, but when it's time to get up and stretch your legs, there is plenty to do. This village is a great place to enjoy walking in the mountain, and it's a perfect starting point for a number of hiking trails for all ages and skill levels. While any guesthouse can point guests in the right direction or even arrange a guide for longer hikes, trails on hikers can follow trails on either the north or south end of the village to the nearby villages Konjsko or Pestani. The windy, hilly streets of the village also provide an unforgettable place to explore.
  • Peštani village – this once quiet fishing village has given up to tourism, with almost every house renting rooms and many restaurants and cafes. Desaret hotel has a good organized beach. If you don’t like camping but like to enjoy the great beaches and parties in Gradishte you can stay here.

From here on the coast becomes more wild and beautiful with stunning views over the lake.

  • Gradište camping site – It’s beach is renowned as the most beautiful one on Ohrid Lake. The camping has couple of beaches. The main one is wide and fairly long with small pebbles. If you follow the bridge along the rocks you’ll reach the second and third beach which are favored by young people as they have cafes and bars, and quite often there are day and night parties organized here. The second beach has the small St.Bogorodica cave church 14th c.
Ohrid Lake at Trpejca village
Ohrid Lake at Trpejca village
  • Trpejca village – due to the its setting between the rocks this small fishing village has managed to preserve its charm and escape the overgrow of tourism. It has a great long but narrow beach with the cleanest waters on the lake. It has couple of good small lakeside fish and barbecue restaurants and a bar on the left side of the beach. If you don’t like the beach or it seems crowded take one of the small boats and ask to be taken to one of the isolated beaches around the village and enjoy the lake by yourself, the boat will came back for you at arranged time (50-100 denars).
  • St.Bogorodica (Zaum) church – the church can be reached only by boat from Trpejca or Ljubaništa villages. Ask on the beach or in one of the restaurants. It was built on a stunning location among the rocks on a small beach by the lake in 1361. The architecture is exquisite, but the main reason to come here is to see the fresco of St.Anna breastfeeding Virgin Mary.
  • Ljubaništa village – Many people seem to like it, probably because of the sand beach (which arguably looks like mud). There is camping here.
  • St.Naum monastery – At the other end of the lake and is accessible by bus, taxi or boat. It is on the Albanian border so make sure you don't wander off into the military zone. If you take a taxi, it may be worth asking the driver to veer off into one of the picturesque mountain villages overlooking the lake to stop for a cheap lunch of grilled meat and cheese. One of the most beautiful monasteries in Macedonia and an important pilgrimage place. Breathtaking setting on a plateau over Ohrid Lake and Galičica mountain towering from behind. It was founded in the 910 by St.Naum, but the present-day church was built in the 16th c. Of the original church just the side chapel with the grave of St.Naum still stands. The frescoes were painted in 1806 (the side chapel frescoes depict the life and miracles of St.Naum); in the first chamber of the church look for the fresco of St.Cyril and Methody and their students including St.Klement and St.Naum. The icon screen was made in 1711 and it is the oldest completely preserved wooden high icon screen in Macedonia. In the side chamber it is popular to get down on your knees and try to listen the heart of St.Naum. Around the church look for the peacocks including a rare albino one. Bigger part of the dormitories of the monastery are turned into a hotel now. Near the monastery there is a chapel with holy water and before are the big springs with a lovely cafe on a small island inside the springs. It is possible (and a great experience) to take a boat tour of the springs (available only in summer) 50 denars, but skip the short boat tour offered to see the monastery from the water. Next to the monastery the river enters the lake. Around the monastery there is a pleasant sandy beach.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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  1. A historic city in the southwest of the Republic of Macedonia.



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