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Ohrid

Ohrid

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Located on the the shores of Lake Ohrid, the city of Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. It is mentioned in Greek documents from 353 B.C, when it was known as Lychnidos or “the city of light” and was renamed Ohrid in 879 A.D. 

 

There are many reminders of Ohrid's past around the town. One of the oldest is the ancient theater from the Hellenistic period which was built in 200 BC. A short walk from the theater you will find Samuel's fortress which was built in the 10th century during the reign of Tsar Samuel. The views from the fortress are simply spectacular! 

 

There were once 365 churches in Ohrid, one for every day of the year. Today there are considerably less but many historic churches survive. The most famous is the Church of St. John at Kaneo which overlooks the lake. It is believed to date back to the 13th century and you can see the original frescos inside which were discovered during restoration work in the 1960s. 

 

High on a cliff 18 miles outside the city stands Sveti Naum a beautiful Monastery which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Macedonia. The Church of the Holy Archangels was built at Sveti Naum in 900 AD but was destroyed by the Ottomans in the 15th century. Between the 16 and 17th centuries it was rebuilt as the Church of Sveti Naum. Inside 19th century frescos adorn the walls and domes, you will also find the tomb of St. Naum himself. Some say if you press your ear to the tomb you can still hear his heartbeat. 

 

From the high Monastery walls Lake Ohrid looks more like a vast sea stretching out over the horizon. There is also a gorgeous garden filled with roses, fountains and peacocks. There are a number of restaurants located in and around the monastery. There is even a restaurant located on an  island between two springs serving traditional macedonian food on the waterside. It is recommended to take the boat trip to see how the springs bubble up from the lake bed. The water is 3.5 meters deep in some places but you can see the bottom of the lake easily due to the outstanding clarity of the water. 

 

With such a long and rich history it is no wonder Ohrid is a UNESCO world heritage site. Lake Ohrid is also under UNESCO protection as it is one of the deepest and oldest lakes in Europe. The lake is 288 meters deep and is estimated to be between 2-3 million years old. The water is so clear you can see up to a depth of 20 meters. Most of the lake’s plant and animal species are endemic and unique to Ohrid. 

 

To see this city at its best, visit in the summertime. You can see the amazing historic sites by day and roam the cobbled streets by night visiting the numerous bars and restaurants. It is easy to see why Ohrid is called the jewel of the Balkans.

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