Ohrid

View from Ohrid by CC user hanspoldoja on Flickr

Introduction

Being one of the oldest settled places on the European continent situated on one of the world’s oldest lakes, Ohrid is a treasure trove of human history and natural wonder. With fortress walls, ancient Orthodox churches, and placid lake and mountain views, Ohrid is one of Macedonia‘s biggest tourist draws. Don’t let this fact scare you away, as there is a reason why local and foreign crowds descend upon this place year after year.

Saint Naum Monastery by CC user 86624586@N00 on Flickr

Cultural Experiences

Start off your cultural tour of Ohrid with a bang by paying a visit to St. Jovan Kaneo, which is a 13th century Orthodox church that has a killer view of Lake Ohrid. Named after Saint John, the former Apostle of Jesus Christ that reputed wrote the Book of Relevations, St. Jovan Kaneo is noteworthy for the frescoes contained within, which depict scenes involving the day to day life of Jesus Christ and numerous saints, in addition to the stonework that make this religious institution an icon of the Ohrid area.

Next on your list should be Monastery of Saint Naum, which has founded by a missionary of the same name in the 10th century AD, during the heyday of the Bulgarian Empire. Despite the ravages of time, its red tile roofing and intricate stonework remain largely intact even in the present day.

Combined with its location on Lake Ohrid almost thirty kilometres north of the city centre and the views present from here, you will get the relaxation you’ve been seeking for some time, as you realize while Saint Naum chose this spot for his refuge from the world more than one thousand years ago.

The last church on your tour should be Sveti Kliment Ohridski, as it is easy to hit when you are back in Ohrid town, making it a great place to see on the final day of your visit to the area. Easily the most visually stunning church in the city centre, Sveti Kliment Ohridski is another stunning example of the vision that creators of Macedonian Orthodox churches had when they were creating their physical manifestation of their faith and love for their God.

The stonework is head and shoulders above many churches found elsewhere in Europe, and on the inside, their devotion to beautiful touches is equally evident, as frescoes coat the ceilings and walls of this worthwhile point of interest in Ohrid.

Ohrid Beach by CC user davidbaileymbe on Flickr

Other Attractions

Organized human habitation in the Lake Ohrid area has a long history, and to secure these pockets of civilization amidst the dangerous regions further afield, they needed strong defenses to repel any potential threats.

From the time of King Philip II of Macedonia, the walls of Tsar Samuil’s Fortress have served to protect the citizenry of Ohrid from threats large and small. While this fort was at its most robust during the days of the Bulgarian Empire, modern times have seen its restoration to closely approximate their might during the days when ramparts and thick stone slabs stood between the peaceful daily lives of those inside and the anarchy that existed on the outside.

Apart form the churches and the fortifications found around the main town, it is Lake Ohrid itself that is the biggest draw for travelers domestic and foreign in Macedonia. This body of water is one of Europe’s oldest and deepest, a fact that when you combine that with the outstanding mountain scenery that surrounds it, it makes it easy to see why this part of the world has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

By far the most popular thing to do on Lake Ohrid is to go to the beach, as there are many sandy and stony beaches along its length that attract families and young travelers alike. Boat tours are also available, which is a more relaxing (if pricier) way to see the sights around the lake and learn about the history of the area.

Finally, be sure to check out Galicica National Park, which protects the mountains that make up the border between Macedonia and Albania. While the views of these peaks are amazing from Lake Ohrid, the views of the lakes from these heights are even more spectacular. Enjoy them while hiking, mountain biking or hang/paragliding, which are all sports that are widely enjoyed by locals here.

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