Discovering the Ohrid Lake, Macedonia

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Ohrid Lake – Macedonian “seaside”, Samuil’s fortress and Saint Naum monastery

There is never enough time to enjoy the places we visit to the maximum. Sometimes we stay for 2 or 3 days in order to see and try everything, but they are never enough. That was the case with Ohrid, too, although it was not our first time in this beautiful city in Macedonia. So we had just a small walk and coffee with friends in the lovely autumn around the Ohrid lake.

Ohrid Lake

The streets of Ohrid

We arrived in Ohrid after our trip to the gorgeous monasteries of Meteora and the very nice Macedonian city of Bitola. In late October Ohrid is a relatively calm place with not so many tourists, luckily.

City of Ohrid, Macedonia

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Охрид 41.112469, 20.808105

Coffee In the morning we had our coffee in the old market area of Ohrid. We sat on a small table on Gotse Delchev street, near a small old mosque and the bigger Zeynel Abedin-Pasha mosque. The boys from the coffee shops were running around delivering the morning coffee to the many shop owners and workers in the area. Together with coffee they were delivering also a yellow liquid that I suggested was a lemonade, but my friend from Ohrid says it was rakia.. I think it was too early for rakia (brandy) and the glasses were too big, but you never know…

If you walk by Gotse Delchev street to the Northeast, you will reach the road leading to Struga. However, we were just walking by the pedestrian part of the street and then by St. Kliment Ohridski street which is the main walking street in the centre, leading to the Ohrid lake. Having reached the lake shores, we took the coast promenade, passing by another mosque – Ali Pasha, one of the oldest ones in Macedonia. We bought some delicious peanuts and continued our walk to the old town – Varosha. Up there is the Tsar Samuil’s fortress and we intend to visit it this time.

mosque - Ali Pasha

Varosha lanes

Delicious peanuts

The lake that warms the autumn

Being so attracted by the fortress, we almost forgot about the lake itself. Its crystal clear waters and shores are a rare beautiful view. It is all surrounded by mountains and from the shore you can see a marvellous panorama and Albanian shores. In the lake you will also see many fishermen boats that make the landscape even more romantic.

A boat in Ohrid Lake

Albanian shore and Ohrid lake

Albanian shore and Ohrid lake

Ohrid Lake

Nowadays Lake Ohrid lies on the border between Albania and Macedonia. Most of its waters come from Prespa lake which is located on a higher altitude in the mountains. Prespa lake’s waters are flowing to Ohrid lake through a network of channels inside the rocks of Galicica mountains.

Water in Ohrid lake is warmest in August. It accumulates heat during summer months and releases it in the autumn which makes the autumn in the area relatively warm. September is a wonderful time to visit Ohrid. During summer months the city is crowded with beachgoers but in October it was calm and welcoming some late tourists like us. We were happy to be alone on the shores, throw stones in the water or just watch the sunset before continuing our walk to Samuil’s fortress.

My daughter Anna

Up to the Old Town and the main attractions in Ohrid (besides the lake)

Walking up the cobblestone streets with a baby in a stroller was not an easy task. Sometimes we had problems with stairs and other traps but the beautiful landscape around was telling us that it is worth climbing all the way up. We passed by the noticeable old Church of Saint Sofia. It was built in IX century after Christianity became a main religion in Bulgaria.

A typical Ohrid's street view

View of Ohrid

St. Bogorodica Perivlepta (Holy Mother of God Perivleptos church),

St. Bogorodica Perivlepta (Holy Mother of God Perivleptos church),

We climbed on the top of the hill to find the beautiful Church of St. Bogorodica Perivlepta (Holy Mother of God Perivleptos church), known also as St Clement. It was built in 1295 by the Byzantine of Albanian origin Progonos Sgouros, a military commander and a relative of emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos. Here we met many tourists, also there is an entrance fee but this is not unusual in Ohrid.

Samuel's fortress

From the church there is a beautiful view to Varosha district and Samuel’s fortress. There are many other churches and chapels in the area. Another attraction is the ancient theatre but we like fortresses more.

Churches in Ohrid

Samuil’s fortress

The fortress was erected on the highest point of Ohrid. Today its 16 m walls are reconstructed and you can climb on them and enjoy the stunning view to Ohrid and the lake. The fortress dates back to the X-XI century during the First Bulgarian Kingdom by Tsar Samuel who moved the capital of Bulgaria to Ohrid.

Samuel's fortress

Samuel’s fortress, photo by Stojan Stojanovski

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Самуилова крепост 41.114651, 20.791379
Samuel's fortress

Samuel’s fortress, photo by Stojan Stojanovski

Samuel's fortress

Samuel's fortress

Samuel's fortress

Unfortunately we could not visit the archaeological complex Plaosnik where the ruins of an ancient monastery and school lie. It is thought there used to be an early-Christian religious settlement and the remains of several early Christian basilicas were found. There was also the Church of Saint Panteleimon where St. Kliment of Ohrid was working. A few years ago a replica of this church was built upon its foundations. However, when we were in Ohrid the complex was not open for visitors because of intensive construction works. I do not know what it will look like when it is finished but I hope it will become a nice place.

St.Clement & Plaosnik

Then we continued our walk through the park and its narrow alleys and not knowing how exactly, we ascended to another landmark of Ohrid – Saint John the Theologian, known also as Kaneo. It is located on the shores of Ohrid Lake, above the fishermen’s district Kaneo. Here you will be offered a boat ride to the city centre but we decided to continue our walk by the small streets.

Kaneo

Kaneo

The fishermen's district Kaneo

The fishermen’s district Kaneo

The Boats

Varosha lanes Ohrid



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Monastery of Saint Naum

The Monastery of Saint Naum is one of the places every tourist is brought to once in Ohrid. We usually avoid such very popular places because many of them tend to look like more like a market than a spiritual place, leave away the crowds there. However, we visited the place out of season and we were able to enjoy its spirit and beauty to the maximum. I strongly recommend visiting this monastery, if possible out of season or on a weekday.

St. Naum Monastery

St. Naum Monastery, photo byStojan Stojanovski

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Манастир \'Свети Наум\' 40.914299, 20.742209

Church "St. Naum"

Church St. Naum

Saint Naum monastery is located 30 km south of Ohrid, near the border with Albania, in the foot of Galicica mountains. It is reachable also by a boat from Ohrid but we preferred the traditional ride by car. It takes a 45 min drive by a picturesque curvy road.

St. Naum Monastery

The fishermen’s district Kaneo

The monastery was established around 893-900 by Saint Naum of Ohrid – the youngest of St.St. Kiril and Methody’s students, with the help of Bulgarian rulers Boris and Simeon. In the monastery’s church are being kept the remains of Saint Naum of Ohrid who died on 23 December 910.

Nowadays the monastery is a pilgrimage place which attracts visitors from all around the world, both Christians and Muslims. People believe that it can cure mental illnesses. Decades ago people used to come and stay here in a small room near the church. Today a hotel complex is present.

The springs

The springs of Black Drin

The springs of Black Drin

In the monastery’s yard you can also see the source of Black Drin river and enjoy the view of crystal clear water from the earth flowing into the lake.

The springs of Black Drin

Black Drin

St. Naum Monastery's park



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The village of Trpejca (Търпейца)

Our friends Stoyan and Yasmina took us to the small village of Trpejca, called sometimes the Ohrid Saint-Tropez. We parked our car in the beginning and continued our walk down the stairs leading to the beach. We sat for a lunch in a nice restaurant on the beach where tens of cats were playing around, hoping we would share our lunch with them. What impressed us was the cleanness of the beach and the lake’s waters. Maybe it will be nice to go there for a beach holiday but we have not done this because we are somehow scared of the crowds of other tourists.

Trpejca

Trpejca

Trpejca

Photo of Trpejca made by the best Macedonian photographer Stojan Stojanovski

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Търпейца 40.961461, 20.782077




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The next morning, after the emotional day, we had our breakfast in a nice bakery called Zito Leb. Croissants were delicious and we remembered our stay in Belgrade where we enjoyed the local bakery chain Hleb i Kifle.

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