Byzantine heritage (Ohrid)

On Macedonian soil there are testimonies of edifices of the mature Byzantine church architecture from the 10th to the 14th centuries, recognizable by their cross in square base, the complex organization of the interior space surrounded by the tall wall masses, with vaults and domes and ceramic decoration of the façades. Among the rare examples of the older type of basilical buildings is the spacious cathedral temple of the Ohrid Archbishopric, the church of St. Sophia. In St. Sophia, the intertwined history of the church and the state, is witnessed in the portraits of the most important representatives, starting with the ones with broad ecumenical significance – the Roman Popes and the heads of the most influential Eastern Christian churches, the ones that had placed Ohrid Archbishopric at an exceptional position in the orthodox ecumenae – Clement of Ohrid, Constantine Cabasilas, archbishop Nicholas, concluding with the group of Slavic enlighteners, the saints Cyril, Methodius and Clement (in Kurbinovo church). The force of the artistic creativity in fresco-painting created recognizable styles and works with universal value of famous painters – the Thessalonicians Michael and Eutychius in the Holy Mother of God Peribleptos, as well as the style of the leading Ohrid painter of the 14th century – John Theorian and his disciples, especially visible in the Holy Mother of God Perivleptos and St. Sophia in Ohrid


View Byzantine heritage in the Republic of Macedonia in a larger map

Ohrid, the cradle of Christianity and cyrilic letter, is home of more than 300 churches in the region, mostly of Byzantium period. The Christian monuments in Ohrid, the city of UNESCO, inscribe the most lustrous pages of the history of the peoples living in the heart of the Balkans. They are a testimony of the rich and magnificent in creative layering, cultural heritage, a part of which is presented on HAEMUS web site.

St. Pantelejmon church (Plaoshnik) – the place where the first university in Europe in the 10th century was established and where the Cyrillic alphabet was created. It was ruined in the 17th c. and converted into mosque. Today the complex embedded into an archaeological site comprises a reconstruction of the original church built by St. Clement where through the glass the parts of the original church from 9th c. are still visible.

St. Sophia church - originally built in the 10th century with the fresco paintings from 1035-1056, it was for a long time the cathedral of the Ohrid Archiepiscopate. In the Ottoman period it was converted into a mosque. The preserved frescoes from 11th, 12th, and 14th century are among most important works of Byzantine monumental painting.

St. Virgin Mary Perivleptos church (St.Clement) – erected in 1295, fresco-painted by Mihailo and Evtihij, represent the earliest example of Renaissance art in Europe. It is known as St. Clement church, because in the time of the Ottoman Empire the bones of this saint were located within the church. In the courtyard of the church the Ohrid icons gallery is settled.

The Icon Gallery – it is located within the courtyard of the church of St. Virgin Mary Perivleptos and collects some of the best examples of the iconographic art in Macedonia, from 11-19th centuries.

St. Naum monastery - built on a rock, with a wonderful view of the Lake Ohrid, the original church dedicated to the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel was erected by St. Naum himself in 900 A.D. Later he was buried within the church and there is a popular belief that if a visitor puts his ear on St. Naum’s grave he could hear his heart beating.

St. Zaum church - the church dedicated to St. Virgin Mary from Zaum is located on the shore of Lake Ohrid, near the village of Trpejca. An inscription in the interior indicates that it was built and fresco painted in 1361.

Cave churches – built into the cliffs along the shore of the Ohrid Lake, the cave churches are the specific cultural heritage from the Byzantine period. They are built at the end of 13th and the beginning of the 14th century and contain fresco paintings from the period of their foundation. Some of the monks’ cells can still be seen around the cave churches.

Half day Byzantine tour of Ohrid includes: church St. Virgin Mary Perivleptos (1295) known by the frescoes with Renaissance motives (including the Icon gallery), the complex of Plaoshnik (archaeological site comprising St. Clement church and his grave), church St. John Kaneo (14th c.) and cathedral church of St. Sophia (11th c.), landmark of the city. The tour can be extended with lunch, visiting the national workshop for handmade paper and shopping the jewelry made by famous Ohrid’s pearl.

Also there is an opportunity for full day tour in Ohrid, including the visit of the monastery of St Naum. On the way back to Ohrid there is opportunity for visiting the Museum on water (reconstruction of Eneolithic pile-dwelling settlement).

If you want to book a tour, you can contact us in the following ways:

By email: contact@haemus.org.mk

By phone: 00 389 77 524 987

Unqualified guides аrе illegal in the Republic of Macedonia. Make sure your tourist guide is licensed!

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