City of Light: Ohrid's St. Sophia Church, the Amphitheater, and Lunch
- Ohrid sightseeing: "The gem in Macedonia's crown." "The Jerusalem of the Balkans." Starting in Old Town, you'll wonder how Europe's other City of Light remains a little-known travel secret.
- St. Sophia: The queen of Ohrid cathedrals is going on 1,000, and only grows more magnificent. Inside you'll see some of the world's best-preserved Byzantine-era frescos, created in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries.
- St. Clement: See the famous Gallery of Icons and learn the interesting history of "Mother of God Most Glorious," one of only four churches with frescos signed by Byzantine masters Michael and Eutychios.
- Ancient theater: Macedonia's only Hellenistic-type amphitheater was built between two hills to enhance acoustics, and still thrills audiences; it's in great condition because it was only uncovered in the 1980s.
- Samoil's Castle: Worthy of any kingdom in Game of Thrones, the Bulgarian Czar's fortress goes back a thousand years and features massive turreted walls, with amazing lake and town views from the ramparts.
About this Ohrid Tour
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognizes many places for their historic importance, and many for their natural and biological importance. Nestled on the shores of a 3-million-year-old lake ("a superlative natural phenomenon," as UNESCO puts it), Ohrid is one of the few acknowledged for both.
That natural beauty brought humans here so long ago that the first settlements are only roughly dated. But she hit her cultural prime beginning in the 7th century, when she was still known as Lychnidos: Greek for "City of Light." There were already many churches and basilicas here, and more were to come: Ohrid became "the Jerusalem of the Balkans" because there were so many churches that one could worship in a different one every day for an entire year.
There are no longer 365 churches lining the streets here, but those that remain hold priceless cultural treasures. And the streets themselves have cultural significance: As you'll see during your tour, the foundations of houses are above the streets. Walking the city's narrow paths, you find yourself going through tunnels that take you under buildings. That's because the Ottoman Muslims who arrived in 1395 first settled outside the city walls. As the population of the Christians inside grew, they were forced to start using the space between buildings above the streets for new construction, creating tunnels underneath.
Like so many cities in warmer climates, the houses were painted white to reflect the strong sun. But unlike typical Macedonian towns, the houses in Ohrid don't have the typical open spaces between them – that would let the strong winds coming off the lake blow through full force.
Living on a superlative natural phenomenon does require some sacrifices.
Blending into the environment
On the west wall in the Church of St. Clement, there's a painting celebrating the Dormition of the Virgin Mary – her "falling asleep" (death) before her Assumption to heaven. The artists, Michael and Eutychios Astrapas took pride in signing their work, but not too obviously. If you examine the blade of St. Mercurius you'll see an inscription that translates to "by the hand of Michael Astradas." Their names can also be found as part of the clothing of of two other military saints.
Please make your way to the Ohrid Central Square and meet your guide at the St. Clement monument. Look for our representative with the GoBe sign.
Bring local currency as there is an entrance fee to St. Sophia Church and St. Kliment Church, if you wish to enter. Lunch is served in Ohrid.
Plan to walk uphill, over cobblestones and flat terrain taking up to 150 stairs and 10 steps to lunch venue.
Walking Tour, Cultural, Scenic
Local Favorite Lunch
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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