Lake Ohrid straddles the boundaries of Albania and Macedonia. Considered the oldest lake in Europe and one of the oldest in the world at somewhere between three to five million years old, it was declared a world heritage site in 1979. I spent three days exploring the city of Ohrid Macedonia and could have spent a week looking around at the other small villages and sites. There are a lot of Hotels, Guest Houses and a few resorts to choose from for accommodations.
The city of Ohrid traces its roots to the pre – Slavic period and discoveries in the last few years have yielded a settlement dating from 1200 BC on the shores of the lake. Today the City of Ohrid and the surrounding area has become the biggest vacation spot in Macedonia and attracts people from all over the world.
Known as the “Balkan Jerusalem”, Ohrid at one time boasted 365 churches and was the religious center of the Macedonian empire. Saint Clement of Ohrid was the creator of Cyrillic script. Today the town has numerous shops, cafes, historical sites and even a few modern clubs.
Make sure to bring some good walking shoes. The old town of Ohrid is a series of cobble stone streets and is built on a hill. When seeing the sites you are either going uphill or downhill. It makes for a very pretty town but without a decent pair of walking shoes you will be regretting it later that night.
The Old Town has a pedestrian street that is full of shops and cafes. One of Ohrid’s claim to fame is the Lake Ohrid pearls. Ohrid pearls are created from sea shells and covered with layers of emulsion made from the scales of the Ohrid fish called Plashitsa. It is a man-made pearl and if you do decide to buy some it would be wise to get them from one of the shops on the pedestrian walking street in the Old Town not from one of the street vendors.
Next to the old Town is the Green Market. Fresh fruits and vegetables along with flowers can be found. When I was there it was very clean and the people were friendly.
The remains of Tsar Samuels Fortress sits on the hill above the town. It is a fairly steep walk especially if it has been raining like it was when I went. The trek is worth it because from there you get a view of the town, the lake and the surrounding area. You can get up on the walls but again be careful. The steps are made of stone, very steep and quite small and narrow by today’s standards. At 16meters high a slip on the way down can ruin your day.
If you take a walking tour through the Old Town you can see a few of the churches, the ancient theater and make your way up to the Fortress, then the rest of the walk is not bad. Heading downhill you can see two of the more famous churches St John Kaneo Church, one of the most photographed in the world and The church of St. Panteleimon which was built in 893.
From there it is an easy walk over the lake bridge back into the Old Town where you can relax and have a great meal and a cold beer.
In close proximity to Ohrid there are several areas of interest and several small villages surround the Lake and mountain sides. St Naum Monastery is 30 km away. Galicica National Park and Lake Prespa are close by. The Museum on the Water which is a reconstruction of a Bronze Age settlement along with a reconstruction of the Roman Military fortifications are on the south side of the lake. A trip to Albania is easy enough it is just across the lake.
A few quick facts:
Maximum Depth of Lake – 940ft
Size – 138 sq miles
Maximum Length – 18.9 miles
Maximum Width – 9.2 miles
In the next couple of posts I will show some of the Churches including Saint Naum Monastery.