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Perched between darkened mountains and the ethereal waters of a three million year old lake, there is a mystical quality to the city of Ohrid. It is said to have once been home to 365 churches – one for every day of the year. Today, Ohrid’s profusion of religious structures marks it as one of Europe’s most important Orthodox Christian centres.
Ohrid has been inhabited since very ancient times – its first recorded mention was found in a document dating to 353BC, when it was known as Lychnidos, City of Light. A few structures from its earliest days have survived, including the lower sections of an antique Hellenistic theatre – the only one of its kind in Macedonia.Read more
During the Byzantine period, Ohrid flourished as a centre of Orthodox Christianity – a role that was consolidated throughout the middle ages. The church of St. Sophia, built in the 11th century on the site of an early Christian basilica, is Ohrid’s cathedral and home to fabulous medieval frescos that depict the 40 martyrs, as well as numerous Orthodox Patriarchs and Catholic Popes. Nearby, Saint Pantelejmon church and Plaoshnik monastery are revered as the site of an early Slavic university founded by Saint Klement, Macedonia’s patron saint and a staunch disciple of Saint Cyril, who famously codified the Cyrllic script.
Throughout Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, you’ll find numerous small churches with historic, religious, or architectural importance, including the church of Saint Erazmo, a ruined structure with an interesting four leaf shape suggesting early contact with Syria and Mesopotamia. Beyond the city, you’ll find many other sites of interest: ancient villages, cave churches and monasteries, and beaches all lie within easy reach.