Ohrid's Historical Churches, Ohrid

Ohrid's Historical Churches (Self Guided), Ohrid

There is a legend supported by observations by Ottoman traveller Evlia Celebia, from the 15th century, that there were 365 chapels within the town of Ohrid's boundaries, one for every day of the year. Today this number is significantly smaller. However during Medieval times, Ohrid was called Slavic Jerusalem. Follow this self-guided walking tour to witness the historical churches in Ohrid center.
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Ohrid's Historical Churches Map

Guide Name: Ohrid's Historical Churches
Guide Location: Macedonia » Ohrid (See other walking tours in Ohrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: gene
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Church of Saints Clement and Panteleimon
  • Church of St. John at Kaneo
  • Church of St. Sophia
  • The Church of St. Bogorodica Bolnicka
  • The Church of St. Nicholas Bolnicki
  • Holy Virgin Mary Kamensko
  • St. Bogorodica Perivlepta Church
Church of Saints Clement and Panteleimon

1) Church of Saints Clement and Panteleimon

The Church of Saints Clement and Panteleimon is a Byzantine church situated on Plaošnik in Ohrid. It is attributed to Saint Clement of Ohrid, a disciple of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius. Archaeologists have come to believe that the church is located on the site where the first students of the Glagolitic alphabet (used to translate the Bible into Old Church Slavonic) were taught into the First Bulgarian Empire.

The original church is believed to have been built when Saint Clement arrived in Ohrid, at the request of Boris I of Bulgaria and restored an old church. Sources say that Saint Clement was not satisfied with the size of the church and therefore built a new one over it and assigned Saint Panteleimon as its patron saint. Many archaeologists believe that Clement himself designed and constructed the monastery. Clement, along with Naum of Preslav would use the monastery as a basis for teaching the Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets to Christianised Slavs thus making it a university.

Judging by the architectural style and design of the monastery, researchers say that Saint Clement intended for his building to be a literary school for disciples, thus it is believed to be the first and oldest discontinued university in Europe. The exterior of the monastery contains a large number of finely detailed mosaics not far from a stone Baptismal font used to baptize his disciples.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Church of St. John at Kaneo

2) Church of St. John at Kaneo (must see)

The Church of Saint John the Theologian sits on a cliff overlooking Kaneo Beach and Lake Ohrid. It is really next door to the Plaosnik Archeological Site and St Clement's Church. The John referred to is John of Patmos, credited to be the writer of Revelations. According to some historians, he may also have been John the Apostle.

It is not known precisely when the church was built. Certain documents indicate construction was perhaps in the 13th century, well before the rise of the Ottoman Empire which eventually engulfed Macedonia.

The church is laid out in a cruciform plan on a rectangular base. Unfortunately, the architect is not yet known. The church has a single dome. The roof cornice is unusual. It is neither flat nor undulating in the normal manner. It forms angled tympanums between a doorway lintel and the arch above. This is customary in the central Balkans.

Frescoes dating from the 1200s are intact in the dome apse. The naos niche contains bits from the Passion of Christ. The altar space holds scenes of the liturgy and the Worship of the Lamb. There are portraits of Saints Clement of Ohrid, Erasmus of Lychnidos and Constantine Cabasilas, Ohrid Archbishop in the 1260s.

Christ Pancrator is featured in a fresco in the church dome. The Church of Saint John is a pleasant walk from the fortress of Tsar Samoil downhill through the pine forest. The views of Lake Ohrid and the old town are sweeping and dramatic. For weary, hungry hikers there is no dearth of friendly restaurants at the water's edge.
Church of St. Sophia

3) Church of St. Sophia (must see)

The Cathedral of St Sophia was built in Ohrid in the 9th century by Boris II. It was rebuilt in the 11th century and provided with a domed basilica by Archbishop Leo of Ohrid. A Great Feast mural adorns the nave.

In the recess of the apse the Virgin Enthroned holds her son in a protective mandorla. Christ prepares bread and wine below. On the walls behind the altar platform (the "bema") is a sequence of scenes from the lives of Abraham, St Basil the Great and St John Chrysostum. Above the alcove where sacerdotales are kept are scenes of martyrdoms.

The church was dedicated to Holy Wisdom ("Hagia Sofia"). It was built on the foundation of an early Christian basilica of the 5th century. In the 15th century the church was converted to a mosque. The precious frescoes were white-washed. During their regime, the Ottomans caused a lot of damage to the church.

After the Balkan Wars of 1912, St Sophia was returned to her role as an Orthodox Church and a conservation project was initiated. The frescoes were cleaned and rejuvenated and the church once again expressed the Byzantine world of the 11th century.

Every year the one-month Ohrid Summer Festival is opened by an operatic concert at Saint Sophia's. The first concert was in August, 1961. Inside the church, Macedonian opera star Ana Lipsha Tofovic and pianist Ladislav Peridic gave a bravura performance. It was a first for Ohrid and a first for the church.
The Church of St. Bogorodica Bolnicka

4) The Church of St. Bogorodica Bolnicka

This church is located in the proximity of the Lower Gate. There are no historical confirmations reagarding the date of the church’s construction, however, the architecture and design of the interior paintings is very similar to the sixteenth century style. The church bore many renovations throughout its time but nonetheless, has original frescoes within its interior.
The Church of St. Nicholas Bolnicki

5) The Church of St. Nicholas Bolnicki

The Church of St. Nicholas was built at the very beginning of the fourteenth century. It is located in the proximity of the Lower Gate of Ohrid. The church has a one-naval shape, which is a quite an original architectural design for the Ohrid area. The church has a bell tower and a porch on its western side.
Holy Virgin Mary Kamensko

6) Holy Virgin Mary Kamensko

The Holy Virgin Mary Kamensko, also "Uspenie Bogorodichno" or "Sveta Bogorodica Kamensko" (in Macedonian literary norm: "Sveta Bogorodica Kamensko") is an Orthodox church. The church is under the administration of the Debar-Kicevo Metropolitanate of the Macedonian Orthodox Church - Ohrid Archdiocese.

The church is located in the center of the city above Starija chinar. It is believed that it was built in the 17th century. An inscription on a stone block on the eastern side from the outside shows that it was expanded in 1832, and another inscription above the south door from the inside, which was written by Dicho Zograf, together with his son Avram Dichov and Petar Ioanov, in 1863 - 1864. In 1924, the frescoes were restored.

The iconostasis in the church is from 1845 and is the work of Debar master Dimitar Stanishev. On the royal doors, in the lower part, St. St. Cyril and Methodius, Saint Clement of Ohrid and Saint Athanasius. On one of the throne icons, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Georgi Manuel from 1845, there is an inscription, according to which part of the iconostasis is the work of Hristo Cvetko. According to the inscription above the lunette above the royal doors, in 1867 the entire iconostasis was gilded, and Stefan Trimce Rekali paid for it. According to its construction, the iconostasis is divided into five horizontal flights and the whole is interwoven with various scenes from the flora and fauna of the Ohrid coast. The top ends with two dragons, a crucifix and the Holy Virgin and Saint John the Theologian.

In 1991, an administrative building was built. In September and October 2002, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and the National Museum - Ohrid carried out cleaning and conservation of the frescoes. On May 28, 2004, the painting of the western side of the church, which had not been painted until then, was completed. On June 15, 2004, the laying of marble granite on the floor was completed, and in December 2006, the extension of the courtyard.

There is a little terrace at the church backyard, offering stunning views of Ohrid -so, don't miss it!
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Bogorodica Perivlepta Church

7) St. Bogorodica Perivlepta Church

The church was built and painted in 1295. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Perivlepta is an attribute given to her that means "the Omnisicent and Clairvoyant". The benefactor was Progon Zgur, son-in-law of the Byzantine emperor Andronicus II. The church was painted by Michael and Eutychius. The frescoes they painted have all the elements of Renaissance art except perspective. The figures painted by Michael and Eutychius are not presented the traditional Byzantine way, skinny, emotionless and with their thoughts wandering somewhere. They are presented like healthy, chubby young men with red cheeks. Mihailo and Evtihie are the first Byzantine artists to sign their work (on 20 different hidden locations, look on the front columns of the sword and the cloth of two holy warriors). Their work left a strong impact on Byzantine art. 100 denars entrance fee.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Ohrid, Macedonia

Create Your Own Walk in Ohrid

Create Your Own Walk in Ohrid

Creating your own self-guided walk in Ohrid is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Ohrid Introduction Walking Tour

Ohrid Introduction Walking Tour

Ohrid was called "Lychnidos", meaning "City of Light." By the late 9th century, the town was referred to as "Ohrid." This is Slavic, meaning "on a hill." With its 365 churches, it was known as "Jerusalem of the Balkans."

Legend says King Cadmus, banished from Thebes, founded the town on a hill overlooking the lucid waters of Lake Ohrid. That may...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles