Ohrid | history & culture

Ohrid | history & cultureOhrid | history & culture

Ohrid in antiquity

In Ohrid, the civilization is existing for more than 3000 years. According to the legends, the city was founded by Kadmos 2.400 years ago. Ohrid presents a true archeological treasury. There are many archeological sites from the Neolithic period in this region.

The oldest recorded mention of the city Lichnydos - the ancient name of Ohrid, occurs in connection with Philip 2nd of Macedonia (353 BC). And here on this region the Slavs came and settled in the 6th century and give the city the new name Ohrid.

Middle ages and the Slavs and Byzantines in Ohrid

The name Ohrid first appeared in 879. Between 990 and 1015, Ohrid was the capital and stronghold of the Samoil's medieval Macedonian state. From 990 to 1018 Ohrid was also the seat of the Ohrid Patriarchate. After the Byzantine conquest of the city in 1018, the Patriarchate was downgraded to an Archbishopric and placed under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

The medieval city of Ohrid has always been a significant cultural and economic centre, which encompasses and extraordinary combination of natural beauty and human art. Squeezed in the rocks on the north side of the lake, between the walls of preserves the secrets of many civilizations - the ancient (antique) theatre, the early Orthodox basilicas, numerous churches built between the 9th and the 14th century, more than 100 square meters fresco memoirs, a rich gallery of icons, manuscripts and other rarities.

At the end of the 9th century and the beginning of the 10th century, due to the activity of Saints Clement and Naum of Ohrid, Ohrid was the oldest cultural temple in the world of the Slavs. There, they created the first Slavic University much earlier than the Bologna University, which was the first source of the Slavic literacy and culture. Ohrid is credited as being the birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet, which was most probably created by St. Clement of Ohrid that further reformed the Glagolic alphabet created in turn by the brothers St. Cyril and Methodius.

Bohemond and his Norman army took the city in 1083. In the 13th and 14th century the city changed hands between Despotate of Epirus, Bulgaria, Byzantine Empire and Serbia.

As an episcopal city, Ohrid was an important cultural center. Almost all surviving churches were built by the Byzantines, the rest of them date back to the short time of Serbian rule during the late Middle Ages.

It is said that there used to be 365 churches in Ohrid - one for each day in the year. The fact that Ohrid had been an object of desire for many kings, archbishops, speaks for it self, challenging the curious ones to visit it to nowadays. The beautiful architecture of the 14th century in the old part of the city, with its narrow city streets creates a sense of unique harmony and beauty. Its beauty and virtuosity attracts the attention not only of tourists but of many experts as well. One special cultural monument of Ohrid is the old Bazaar - old shops rich with crafts products - filigrees, pearl, copper, pipes...

Middle ages and the Ottomans in Ohrid

At the end of the 14th century it was conquered by the Ottomans and remained under them until 1912. The Christian population declined during the first centuries of Ottoman rule. In 1664 there were only 142 Christian houses. The situation improved in the 18th century when Ohrid emerged as an important trade center on a major trade route. During the Ottoman period, the town was a part of the Monastir Sandzak, with a seat in Bitola.

Ohrid after the Balkan and World wars

After the Balkan Wars and the division of Macedonia (1912-1913), Ohrid became a city in the new Serbian kingdom. Later during the First world war (1914-1918), the line of Macedonian front was passing by the city and during the Second world war (1939-1945), Ohrid was occupied by the Bulgarian fascists.

In 1980, Ohrid and Lake Ohrid were accepted as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.