Already in the 4th century BCE, Lychnidos was founded by the Greeks, and it gained importance as a trading and cultural centre between Constantinople and the Adriatic Sea - on the Roman Via Egnatia. When Slavs arrived in the area, the town was renamed to Ohrid, meaning "city on the hill". After Ohrid was conquered by the Bulgarians in 867, it became the capital of the Bulgarian Empire, and also became the seat of the Bulgarian Patriarchate. It was such an important religious city that it was claimed Ohrid had 365 churches - one church for every day of the year. It was dubbed Bulgarian Jerusalem, and still now is called Macedonian Jerusalem. Moreover, it had become an important cultural centre, the birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet.
With a town so much steeped in history, it is hardly surprising that there are still many visible remnants of those golden years of this lakeside town. We started walking up the cobble-stone streets of the old town until we reached the Roman theatre, a classical marble amphitheatre that the Romans adapted to be able to host gladiator games. Nowadays, it is being used for summer performances. Close by, we found the Sveta Bogorodica Perivlepta, an orthodox church with incredibly beautiful frescoes inside, especially in the ceiling of the chapel. Apart from the frescoes, the omnipresent icons are worth seeing. Passing the Upper Gate, an old city gate of Ohrid, we continued to Samuil Fortress. This was the stronghold of the former capital of the Bulgarian Empire, until the Byzantines and later the Ottomans changed the fate of Ohrid. According to researchers, it was built on the foundations of a much older, 4th century BCE fortress by Phillip II of Madecon.
The entrance gate is notably impressive, but work is still going on inside and the main attraction, after you climb the stairs to the top of the fortified walls, is the great views over Ohrid, Lake Ohrid, and the surrounding area. Further down, we found access to the remains of one of the oldest churches of Ohrid closed for reconstruction, and instead visited the completely rebuilt Sveti Klementi and Pantelejmon church, and saw the 5th century mosaics. Continuing our way towards the lake, we came across the most famous Orthodox church of Ohrid: Sveti Jovan Kaneo, or Saint John at Kaneo. Dramatically located on a rocky outcrop towering above the surface of Lake Ohrid, it probably has become the best known sight of Macedonia. Built just before the Ottomans invaded, the church offers some original frescoes and icons inside. But the exterior, with small gardens with flowers, is its main draw. It is especially beautiful at sunset and sunrise, when the tranquil lake forms the perfect backdrop of a serene place.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Ohrid (Macedonia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Ohrid.
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