Ohrid is a large town in southern Republic of Macedonia on the shore of Lake Ohrid. A town of vast history and heritage, it was made a UNESCO heritage site in 1980. Ohrid is without a doubt the jewel in Macedonia's crown. Nestled between high mountains up to 2.800m and Lake Ohrid, it is not only a place of historic magnificence but also of outstanding natural beauty.
Archaeological finds indicate that Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in all of Europe. The lake itself is over three million years old. Ohrid town is first mentioned in Greek documents from 353 B.C.E., when it was known as Lychnidos - or, “the city of light.” Only much later, in 879 C.E., was it renamed Ohrid. The name probably derives from the phrase “Vo Hrid” – meaning roughly, “on the hill.” The town as we know it today was built mostly between the 7th and 19th centuries. During the Byzantine period, Ohrid became a significant cultural and economic center, serving as an episcopal center of the Orthodox Church and as the site of the first Slavic university run by St. Kliment and St. Naum at the end of the 9th century. At the beginning of the 11th century, Ohrid briefly became the capital of the great Samuil empire, whose fortress still presides over the city today.
Aside of the lake, Ohrid is most famous for its ancient churches, basilicas, and monasteries where Saints Kliment and Naum with the help of king Boris I (students of Cyril and Methodus) wrote their teachings and formulated the Cyrillic alphabet used in Bulgaria, Republic of Macedonia Russia, Serbia and Montenegro and many of the countries of the former Soviet Union. Most of these churches charge an entry which for tourists is normally double that what locals pay, but is still worth it. It is a good idea to cover up when entering a church, but most locals will understand the inconveniences involved during a hot Macedonian Summer. There is also a wonderful ancient walled fortress at the top of the city.
* Ohrid Summer Festival - The Ohrid Summer Festival is one of the largest and most important music and drama festivals in Macedonia. The first concert took place in 1961 in the church of St. Sophia, with its exceptional acoustics. The festival in Ohrid has a particular international flavour because of the participation of a large number of leading musicians and ensembles from the best known European and world music centers. There have been participants from 44 countries. This Festival has a solid reputation as it has gradually become part of the large family of the most famous European music festival. The Ohrid Summer Festival has its own sound conceptions, and it is able to draw up a musical program that includes artists of world renown. The Ohrid Summer Festival is held each year from July 12 to August 20.
The east coast is the most beautiful part of Ohrid Lake. It is part of Galičica National Park and it is protected by UNESCO along with the lake for its natural values. The first part of the east coast is less interesting, the road goes along the lake and is lined with hotels, tourist settlements and organized beaches.
* Ohrid Swimming Marathon - Each year, in the second half of July, the swimming elite throughout the world gathers in Ohrid and, starting from the monastery St. Naum, they swim along the Lakeshore to the town harbour, approximately a 30-km route. Since 1998 the Ohrid Swimming Marathon has entered in the World Swimming Club of the 12 worldwide held marathons under the patronage of FINA-The World Swimming Association.
* The Balkan Folklore Festival - Member of the UNESCO Association of The International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folklore Art, and The International Organization for Folklore Art. This festival has so far presented numerous original songs and dances from folk culture for more than 30 years. About 1,200 ensembles with 42,000 members have taken part in the festival.