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Ohrid is a city in the Republic of Macedonia and the seat of Ohrid Municipality. It is the largest city on Lake Ohrid and the eighth-largest city in the country with over 42,000 inhabitants as of 2002. Ohrid is notable for once having had 365 churches, one for each day of the year, and has been referred to as a "Jerusalem (of the Balkans)". The city is rich in picturesque houses and monuments, and tourism is predominant. It is located southwest of Skopje, west of Resen and Bitola. In 1979 and in 1980, Ohrid and Lake Ohrid were accepted as Cultural and Natural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. In fact, Ohrid is one of only 28 sites that are part of UNESCO's World Heritage that are both Cultural and Natural sites.
|TIME ZONE :||CET (UTC+1)|
|AREA :||383.93 km2 (148.24 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||695 m (2,280 ft)|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 50.1%|
• Female: 49.9%
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :||6000|
|DIALING CODE :|
Ohrid (Macedonian: Охрид) 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 significance but also of outstanding natural beauty. Ohrid is the jewel in Macedonia's crown.
The earliest inhabitants of the widest Lake Ohrid region were the Dassaretae, an ancient Greek tribe and the Enchelei, an Illyrian tribe. According to recent excavations by Macedonian archaeologists it was a town way back at the time of king Phillip II of Macedon. They conclude that Samuil's Fortress was built on the place of an earlier fortification, dated to 4th century B.C. During the Roman conquests, towards the end of 3rd and the beginning of 2nd century BC, the Dassaretae and the region Dassaretia were mentioned, as well as the ancient Greek city of Lychnidos (Greek: Λυχνιδός). The existence of the ancient Greek city of Lychnidos is linked to the Greek myth of the Phoenician prince Cadmus who, banished from Thebes, in Boeotia, fled to the Enchelei and founded the town of Lychnidos on the shores of the modern Lake Ohrid. The Lake of Ohrid, the ancient Greek Lacus Lychnitis (Greek: Λυχνίτις), whose blue and exceedingly transparent waters in 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. Archaeological excavations (e.g., the Polyconch Basilica from 5th century) prove early adoption of Christianity in the area. Bishops from Lychnidos participated in multiple ecumenical councils.
Ohrid has an oceanic climate, closely bordering on a humid subtropical climate(Koppen: Cfb/Cfa), as the mean temperature of the warmest month is just below 22 °C (71.6 °F). The coldest month is January with the average temperature 2.5 °C (36.5 °F) or in a range between 6.2 °C (43.2 °F) and −1.5 °C (29.3 °F). The warmest month is August with average range of 27.7 °C (82 °F)-14.2 °C (57.6 °F). The rainiest month is November, which sees on average 90.5 mm (3.6 in) of rain. The summer months of June, July and August receive the least amount of rain, around 30 mm (1.2 in). The absolute minimum temperature is −17.8 °C (0.0 °F) and the maximum 38.5 °C (101.3 °F).
Climate data for Ohrid
|Average high °C (°F)||6.2|
|Average low °C (°F)||−1.5|
|Source: World Meteorological Organisation|
Ohrid is located in the south-western part of Macedonia, on the banks of Lake Ohrid, at an elevation of 695 meters above sea level.
Prices in Ohrid
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€0.75|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€3.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€12.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€22.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€2.50|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€1.40|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.15|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€3.10|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€2.55|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.08|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€2.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€1.10|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€40.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M )||1||€30.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas )||1||€70.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€0.35|
30 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
66 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
- Ohrid "St. Paul the Apostle" International Airport (IATA: OHD) (about 7 km from city center), . 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.
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):
- Amsterdam - Mondays (28th May - 17th September), Tuesdays (12th June - 13th September) with Macedonian Airlines
- Belgrade - inbound on Mondays, outbound on Thursdays (14th May - 27th September) with Air Serbia
- Dusseldorf - Sundays (1st July - 26th August)
- Ljubljana - inbound Tuesdays and Saturdays, outbound Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (from 20th April) with Adria Airways
- Vienna - incoming on Fridays, outgoing on Sundays (year round) with Macedonian Airlines/Austrian Airlines (codeshare)
- Zurich - Saturdays and Sundays (1st July to 26th August), Saturdays (year round)
There is a daily boat to Pogradec in Albania, leaving Ohrid at 10:00.
- Bus station (few kilometers outside of the center of town, about a 30 minute walk. Taking a taxi to the centre is easy enough as there are lots of them waiting outside the station anytime, but make sure to agree on a price before you get in the taxi, as the drivers may try to rip the tourists off. For a ride to the centre, 100 den seems fair, for the western flank of the city around Goce Delchev St, where much accommodation is clustered, make it 120 den), .
The easiest way to get to Ohrid is from Skopje, where buses run every few hours. A bus from Skopje takes about 3.5 hours and costs 520 MKD one way or about 750 MKD RT. Timetable: Ohrid - Skopje: 5:00**, 5:30, 7:15**, 7:30, 10:45, 12:45, 15:00, 17:45, 19:00*, 20:30** . And for coming back: Skopje – (Kičevo) – Ohrid: 5:30, 6:00, 6:55*, 7:00*, 8:00, 8:30*, 9:00*, 10:00, 11:00, 14:00, 14:45, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, 17:30, 18:30, 19:30* (*summer only - 01.06 to 31.09). In the summer, travelers to Skopje might want to buy a ticket a day or two in advance.
There is a regular bus service from Bitola.
Frequent local buses and shared taxis to Struga. Both should cost 100 MKD.
From Albania, there is a bus line from Vlore (passing Durres and Tirana). Departure time from Ohrid to Albania: 04:30 and 05:40 am.
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 want to reach Ohrid and Macedonia from Montenegro there is an overnight bus (operates only on Sundays) 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 €.
Transportation - Get Around
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.
Daily boat to St. Naum Monastery. It also makes stops at a few interim beaches. It leaves Ohrid at 10:00, and at 15:30 from St. Naum Monastery. 600 denars return.
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.
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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.
- Labino beach. It's a small, stony beach that is not crowded. The water is clear and refreshing. Best time to go is in the morning.
- Ljubaništa beach (On the South-West side of the lake.). Probably the best beach on Ohrid Lake. The beach is long, sandy with usually clean water. There are a lot of people but you can't feel that since the beach is really big. Best time to go is after 6 PM. A sunset you won't forget.
- Gorica Hotel beach. This is maybe the most beautiful beach on the coast, it's covered with small pebbles and 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 coast from the city center to this beach is scenic, even more past it, and takes about 1.5h. The presidential Villa Ohrid, where the Balkan's Peace Framework was signed, is in the woods near too.
- 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.
If interested in real Macedonian folk music, ask for music performed by Aleksandar Sarievski, Nikola Badev, Vaska Ilieva, Petranka Kostadinova, Anka Gieva, Jonče Hristovski, Kočo Petrovski... Avoid CD`s with modern-day "turbo folk" music (i.e. semi-naked girls with bad voices, singing on techno melodies).
- The Talevi and Filevi are the 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 seashells and coated with 5-7 thin layers of emulsion made from the scales of the Ohrid fish called Plashitsa, 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 birthplace 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 [www] , known for her contemporary novel "Happy Something". Its 2nd edition was published by the publisher's Ohrid branch, HappySomething.com [www] , 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.
A Passage through the Fog is a book that has been written in Ohrid by the Ohrid born writer and photographer Misho Yuzmeski. Dr. Michael Seraphinoff, in his Translator`s note on the book has written: "Misho Yuzmeski's novel invites the reader to join his young narrator on a journey of discovery through the heart of modern Europe. While this journey offers certain narrow insights into modern day city life in England and a few of the continent's major cities, it is the internal journey of the young traveler that is at the heart of this novel. Readers are liable to find parallels to some youthful search for meaning of their own in Michele's journey. He reminds us of a critical time in many of our lives, when childhood is finally behind us, but the road ahead is quite uncertain." A copy of the book can be found in all Ohrid`s bookstores and there is no difference in price between different stores. Bulgarian translation of the same book is available, as well.
Short History of the Macedonian People by Risto Stefov was published in Ohrid in 2011. This book is a chronological outline of historical events involving Macedonia and the Macedonian people from ancient times to the present.
Numerous book stalls can be found (at least in good weather during the tourist season) in the square near Ohrid harbor. They sell a variety of maps useful for tourists as well.
The downtown farmers' market has all kinds of fresh produce, as well as local specialties such as walnuts. There are cheese and sausage shops in the market as well, as well as numerous vendors of clothing and assorted industrial goods.
Bicycle supplies and service
There is at least one bike repair shop, which also sells common spare parts and supplies, next to the farmer's market. Some vendors in the market carry bicycle accessories (spare tubes, pumps, etc) as well. This is pretty much the only place in the region to purchase stuff like this, since smaller towns around Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa do not seem to have any bicycle related shops or services - and even gas stations there may not have air pumps.
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
- Gino Italian Restaurant (in the city center), .
- Dalga, . with a terrace over the lake in the old part of town
- Villa St. Sofija, - in the old part of town near the cathedral church St. Sofia +389 46 254 370
- Galeo Fish Restaurant, - in the city center +389 46 285 631
- Biljanini Izvori, - meaning Biljana's Springs, 2 km away from the city center at the famous Biljana Springs +389 46 265 141
- PizzaCafe – the Big Blue, - city center +389 46 261 242
- Etno Restaurant St. Petka, - Outside of the city, Ul. Ilidenska 143 Ohrid +389 78 288 906 / +389 46 288 160 / +389 75 335 411. Real biological tradtional food.
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.
- Ohridski Gevrek, a traditional bakery product. You can buy it in Žito Leb'. Try it with yogurt or peach juice.
Coffe & Drink
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 andSmederevka and Skopsko beer. Try boza with ice-cream. Its called "Ambasador".
- Cafe Galerija, Kliment Ohridski (city center, just before the entrance to the old city). 08-00. If you like to have your morning coffee at the city center, enjoying the view of the lake, you better find the small authentic coffee shop named "Galerija". It is one of the oldest coffee shops in the city. Enjoy in the lake view and the city at the same time. 80 cents.
Sights & Landmarks
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 façade 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.
- St. Bogorodica Perivlepta.13th c. - The church was built and painted in 1295. It is dedicated to Virgin Mary, Perivlepta (from Greek, Περίβλεπτος) is an 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.
- 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. (There are only few frescoes left inside, but the feeling of standing in centuries used sanctuary is worth the entrance). 100 denars.
- St. Pantelejmon – Plaoshnik. It has been a 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- Saint Varvara church.
- 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. 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.
- 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 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. 20 denars for Macedonian tourists.
- Antique Theatre, Boro Sain 10. 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.
- 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 façade 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).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.
- National Ohrid museum. Tu-Su 10:00 - 14:00 and 18:00 - 21:00.Established in 1516 making it one of the oldest museums in the world. Now it shows exponents of history, archaeology and ethnology.
- Hand-made paper workshop, Tsar Samoil (near the National Museum).watch paper being made from wood pulp using traditional methods, also copy of the original Gutenberg press. Line drawings and colour prints can be purchased, printed on their own paper. Free entry.
- Photo Gallery & Cultural Centre "Cultura 365", Tsar Samoil (near the two small churches St. Nikola Bolnički & St. Bogorodica Bolnička.). open every day. Excellent photo exhibition(s). Here they provide tourist information, tour guides, maps of the city, and books in English. Free entry.
East coast of Lake Ohrid: 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.
- 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.
- 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 come back for you at arranged time (50-100 denars).
- Ljubaništa village – Many people seem to like it, probably because of the long, sandy beach. There is camping here. Beautiful nature makes it a perfect family place to be during summer vacation. In the camp you can take a trailer for usually 4 people, a bungalow or you can take a place to put a tent. There is no night life in this place. After 10:00 PM loud music is forbidden.
- 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 in 1361. The architecture is exquisite, but the main reason to come here is to see the fresco of St. Anna breastfeeding Virgin Mary.
- St. Naum monastery (At the other end of the lake and is accessible by bus that goes once every 2 hours (from St. Naum at 8:20, 10:20, ... 18:20), or by boat leaving Ohrid at 10:00. 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.
- Brajčino (Брајчино) (SE 40 km).
- Galičica National Park (SE 15 km). Between Ohrid and Prespa Lakes
- Pelister National Park (E 40 km). located in the Baba Mountain massif, near to Bitola
- Struga (E 15 km). Is a nice place to enjoy a coffee or a base to visit one of the cave churches and monasteries. Taxi to Struga from Ohrid costs around €5-7, or minibuses leave the Ohrid bus station for Struga approximately every 20 minutes, tickets for these cost only 50 Denars. Alternatively you can use a shared taxi for the same price. Make sure to agree to the price before the departure.
Festivals and events
- Ohrid Summer Festival. 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.
Safety in Ohrid
Be warned that the Ohrid Pearl is a type of imitation pearl (an artificial, man-made pearl) and as such has no real value as a gemstone. Most of the "pearls" sold around Lake Ohrid, on the street and in most shops, are simply unfinished imitation pearls (beads made of nacre, but without the pearly coating). Although selling shops have clear notes stating these are hand made ones.