Macedonia's Ohrid: A City of Light

Ohrid: The Land of Saints, Tsunamis, and Pastrmajlija

Entering Ohrid, North Macedonia, is like walking onto the set of a historical drama, where Byzantine churches, centuries-old houses, and cobblestone streets serve as the backdrop. In a world where cities often sacrifice their charm for the sake of modernity, Ohrid stands apart as a well-preserved slice of history. If you were ever curious what it would be like to time travel, Ohrid is your chance.

Ohrid's location, positioned gracefully on the edge of Lake Ohrid, is nothing short of breathtaking. The lake's crystal-clear water stretches to the horizon, bordered by lush green mountains. It's no wonder that Ohrid is sometimes called "The City of Light"; the sun reflecting off the lake's surface makes the city glow in the most ethereal way. According to local legend, Ohrid once had 365 churches, one for each day of the year. While only a fraction of these churches still stand, the city remains a spiritual center, earning it the nickname "The Macedonian Jerusalem".

Divine Calling: The Church of St. John at Kaneo

One of Ohrid's most iconic landmarks is the Church of St. John at Kaneo, perched precariously on a cliff overlooking the lake. If churches were assigned high school superlatives, this one would definitely be voted "Most Likely to Be Seen on a Postcard." The church's beauty and dramatic location make it the star of many a traveler's photo album.

It's a bit of a hike to reach the church, but like most things in life, the best views require a bit of effort. Stepping inside the church feels like delving into a treasure trove of frescoes and icons, showcasing the artistic talents of Ohrid's residents throughout the centuries. Good luck trying to find a church that can compete with this level of grandeur.

The Ohrid Summer Festival: A Cultural Smorgasbord

If you can time your visit to Ohrid just right, you might be lucky enough to attend the Ohrid Summer Festival. This annual event transforms the city into a hub of music, theater, and dance, attracting performers from around the world. Imagine watching a one-of-a-kind performance in a centuries-old church or ancient amphitheater - it's like watching your favorite band play in your living room, but with a much more impressive venue.

Samuel's Fortress: The Best Place to Pretend You're in Game of Thrones

For those who prefer their historical sites with a side of adventure, look no further than Samuel's Fortress. This imposing structure towers over the city, a testament to the grand ambitions of its namesake, Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria. Scrambling up the fortress walls and peering out at the city below, it's easy to imagine oneself as a king or queen surveying their kingdom. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you might even be tempted to practice your dragon taming skills - just don't be surprised if the locals give you strange looks.

Ohrid's Culinary Scene: More than Just Burek

Macedonian cuisine may not be as well-known as its Italian or French counterparts, but that doesn't mean it's any less delicious. Ohrid's restaurants offer a variety of tasty dishes, from the ubiquitous burek (a savory pastry filled with cheese or meat) to the more obscure pastrmajlija (a type of pizza topped with cured meat and eggs).
  • For a truly unique dining experience, try out a traditional Macedonian kafana, where you can sample local dishes like tavče gravče (a bean and sausage casserole) and sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls) while enjoying live music.
  • Be sure to wash it all down with a glass of rakija, a potent fruit brandy that's bound to put some hair on your chest. Just remember to sip, not chug - we wouldn't want you to mistake the lake for a giant swimming pool.

How to Get to Ohrid: A Journey Through Time and Space

Located in the southwestern corner of North Macedonia, Ohrid is a bit off the beaten path, but well worth the effort to visit. The most scenic way to reach the city is via the narrow, winding mountain road that connects it to the capital, Skopje. This route offers panoramic views of the lake and surrounding countryside - but be warned, it's not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

For those who prefer a more leisurely journey, there are also regular bus connections and a small airport, with flights primarily serving destinations in Western Europe. However you choose to get there, one thing is certain: a visit to Ohrid is an unforgettable experience that will leave you longing for more.

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