Ohrid – the pearl of the Balkans
If you come and visit Macedonia, you definitely need to visit Ohrid.
Before writing the post for you, I had a look on Ohrid’s history, maybe I can share something interesting here. Well, this small beautiful country called Macedonia has had a lot of things happen in its history. A lot of war and a lot of social, religious and political pressure.
And still, the country in itself it is so natural, attractive, sunny and warm.
But let me come back to Ohrid. The city is considered the ‘treasure of Macedonia’ and it is known today as one of the best touristic places in the country. Ohrid is situated in the S-W part of Macedonia, on the banks of Lake Ohrid. The name of the place was initially Lychnidos and in Latin Lychnidus, a name given by the Greeks and which can be translated as the ‘city of light’ or ‘a precious stone that emits light’. After 879 AD, when the area was conquered by Slaves, the city took the name Ohrid, which is believed to come from ‘vo hrid’ – meaning ‘on the hill’, as the ancient city was situated on top of a hill.
Well, Ohrid was under Greek, Byzantine, Roman, Ottoman, Serbian, Bulgarian occupation, mingling between Orthodox Christianity and Muslim. Between 990 and 1015, Ohrid was the capital and stronghold of the Bulgarian Empire. From 990 to 1018 Ohrid was also the seat of the Bulgarian Patriarchate. After the Byzantine reconquest of the city in 1018 by Basil II, the Bulgarian Patriarchate was downgraded to an Archbishopric and placed under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Ohrid was also a very important cultural centre.
Now, the place is worth it for a visit, once you are in Macedonia. You can see the chapels (there is a legend that says in Ohrid there are 365 chapels – you can visit one every day of the year); the Church of St. Sofia (which is one of the most important monuments of Macedonia, housing architecture and art from the Middle Ages); you can have a walk on the banks of the Ohrid Lake or you can eat a good fish in one of the restaurants situated in the Old City.
With 40 euro per night (a double four stars room) you can have a good stay in the city. A meal costs between 5 and 20 euros. A beer around 1,5 euro, a glass of wine 2 euro, 100 ml vodka: 2,5 euro. There are many bars and pubs all around the lake and there are discos and dance floors too.
The streets are narrow and paved, not suitable for high heels at all. With sandals or any other flats you can walk around the city, or take a boat on the lake. Sometimes I felt I am at the sea, not in front of a lake. The lake is big, clear and deep.
There you can find traditional Turkish food as well as Macedonian or Bulgarian. There is an open market too, where you can taste, try and buy vegetables, fruits, clothes, etc. I am so happy to see these types of markets – in Europe there are only few remaining.
In Ohrid I met nice people, friendly and well educated. I was so sad when I heard that the poverty is so big and a normal salary there is around 200 euro. For example, to buy an iphone you need to starve yourself and sleep on the streets 2-3 months. Probably not too many persons have iphones in Macedonia I think….