On the western coast of Lake Ohrid, not far from the border with Albania, is the town of Radožda. On a normal weekday, this must be a sleepy village on the shore. But when we visited on a weekend toward the end of summer, “sleep” was the last thing on Radožda’s mind. Radožda was ready to party.
While in Ohrid, an excursion to the southern tip of the lake and the monastery of Sveti Naum should be considered essential. This is where the natural springs which feed Lake Ohrid come bubbling up from the underground, into a lagoon of startling clarity.
Halfway up Ohrid’s biggest hill, between the Church of Sv Jovan and Tsar Samoil’s Fortress, is the archaeological site of Plaošnik. With the arrival of St. Clement in 893 AD, and the subsequent establishment of his monastery, this location became the center of Slavic learning. Today, the Church of St. Clement has been rebuilt and much of the site has been excavated, revealing long-concealed Byzantine mosaics.
Throughout the Middle Ages, Ohrid was among the most important religious centers in the Balkans. There were reportedly 365 churches in the small city, one for every day of the year. Most have since vanished, having been destroyed or converted into mosques by the Ottoman Empire, but Ohrid still possesses more than its fair share of historic churches.
Shimmering in the southwestern corner of Macedonia is Lake Ohrid: a UNESCO Heritage Site, and one of the oldest lakes in the world. Over the years, Ohrid has developed into Macedonia’s favorite summer retreat. Whether to play in the pristine water, dance the night away, or just escape the heat, Macedonians and visitors from across the Balkans descend upon the lake in droves.