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.
One can still find a number of traditional craftsmen toiling away within Ohrid’s historic quarter. Craftswomen, too. During our time in Ohrid, we had the chance to hang out with Marta Pejoska, who had recently opened a downtown studio dedicated to silver filigree.
On our second day in Ohrid, we embarked on an excursion to Sv Stefan, an ancient cave church set within the cliffs south of town. We had prepared for a strenuous hike, so when we arrived at the church after barely ten minutes of walking, it was kind of a disappointment. Luckily, the trail continued, and would lead us to the abandoned village of Šipokno.
There are a lot of activities one could choose from during a trip to Ohrid. Scuba diving, paragliding, hiking and sailing are just some of the options available to those who crave action. But “action” is the last thing on the minds of most visitors to Ohrid. This is, after all, where Macedonians come to relax. And for that, nothing’s better than a day spent lounging on the lake.
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.