Ok first of all I have to admit I had never heard of Ohrid before I went to Macedonia but it is a now a place I will never forget. Ohrid is a small city on the shores of Lake Ohrid, one of Europe's deepest and oldest lakes, in the southwest of the Republic of Macedonia.
Regarded as the “Jerusalem of the Balkans”, in the city’s old town there are narrow streets with cobbled paths leading up to some of the city’s many churches (365 in total). Nearby there are monasteries, open-air ruins, and a centuries-old Fortress which dominates the skyline. As you can already see Ohrid is packed with history which is no surprise it, and Lake Ohrid, were made Cultural and Natural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, respectively.
On our first night we decided to head out to explore the area and found a nice little bar along the lakeside which also did food and my friend and I were both surprised how cheap everything was. We had only booked a last minute deal so I hadn’t done as much research as I usually do. The locals were so friendly in each bar we went to we ended up staying out a little later than we had planned but we had a fun night mingling and finding out a bit more about the area.
The next day we went to see some of the city’s most popular churches and monasteries, the first of which was the Church of St. Sophia. The time of construction is not known but the church is famous for its surviving frescos dating back as far as the 11th century. Like other Macedonian churches, it was converted into a mosque by Ottoman Turks before being restored back into a church.
Second on our list was the Church of Saint John at Kaneo which sits on a cliff over Kaneo Beach and provides spectacular views of the lake. Again, the construction date of the church remains unknown but archaeologists believe it was built sometime around the 13th century. If you go to Ohrid this has to be on your list.
Then we went to see the St. Panteleimon Church which is located on Plaosnik Hill a short walk away. Also constructed around the 13th century, it houses the relics of St. Clement. The Church is beautifully decorated with medieval frescos and early Christian mosaics providing a great place to stop for a rest before you tackle the rest of the hill on the way up to Tsar Samuel’s Fortress.
After making our way up to the top of the (steep) hill, we were rewarded with stunning 360 degree views from one of the towers with the mountainous landscape on one side and the lake to admire on the other, which to be fair looks more like the sea it is that big. You are able to walk around the entire perimeter of the fortress walls too providing a great vantage point of the city below.
So, if you like your history and would like to explore somewhere new, I cannot recommend Ohrid enough!