The Classical Theatre
The first recorded mentions of the existence of the theatre were made at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. The Classical Theatre was built about 2.000 years ago, either in the Late Hellenistic period or shortly after the Roman conquest.
The Ohrid Fortress of Tzar Samuel
The oldest historical records of the Ohrid Fortress are mentioned by the classical historian Livy in the 3rd century B.C. when it was the fortress of the town of Lychnidos.
More detailed description of the fortress was made by the chronicler Malcus (Malala) and dates from 478 A.D. The Ohrid Fortress of Tzar Samuel has been described by a chronicler as a mighty stronghold that even Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, was unable to take. The Ohrid Fortress is one of the largest mediaeval fortifications to be preserved in the Republic of Macedonia. With its massive walls and ramparts, it occupies the entire summit of the hill of Ohrid. The hilly pert of the town was protected on all sides save the south, which faces the lake, by towers and high walls three kilometers in length, stretching as far as the harbor. Entrance to the town was gained by three gates, of which only the Upper Gate has been preserved.
The Fortress, in addition to serving the function of defense against enemies, was also an inhabited area and has come to be known as Samuel’s Fortress. Following the epochal archeological excavations done by the archeologist Pasko Kuzman, it is definitely certified that on the terrain of the Samuel Fortress on the hilly part of Ohrid, several decades of centuries are being connected in three periods: Pre-Samuel’s Period, Samuel’s Period and Post-Samuel’s Period of the history of Ohrid.
During the reign of Samuel (976 – 1014), and of his successors up to 1018, Ohrid was the capital of the first Macedonian Midevial state. Both before and after Samuel’s time and of his successors the fortress was destroyed and rebuilt again. After the transformation of Samuel’s state into a political and ecclesiastical seat, Ohrid became a real mediaeval metropolis.
In the hilly part of Ohrid, near the site known as Plaosnik (on old Slavic means flatten place on a hill), there is a monumental early Christian church. Its systematic excavation began in 1961 and was completed in 1964. The shrine was built and decorated in the 5th century at a time when the town of Lychnidos was an important Early Christian Episcopal center. Polyconched and built in the form of a trefoil, it was erected on the foundations of an older classical structure. Mosaic compositions with figurative floral and zoomorphic motives have been unearthed in the central part and in the baptistery of this Early Christian church.
Roughly a hundred square meters of this large complex of mosaics have been preserved. The vaulted ceilings of the church were also ornamented with mosaics, and these were on a gold background. The presence of such splendor points to this as being the seat of the Bishopric of Lychnidos.
Systematic excavations have shown that the church was of vast dimensions. Unknown artists decorated it with magnificent mosaics.
On August 11, 2002 in the vicinity of the early Christian Episcopal basilica at Plaosnik, the newly constructed temple of Ss. Kliment and Panteleimon was sanctified.
the first Slavic Bishop from 893 A.D. and founder of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, were returned back in this temple. It was here that the Ohrid School, a center of Slavonic literary and cultural activity, was situated.
The newly constructed Monastery church Sts. Kliment and Panteleimon, project done by Tanja Paskali Buntasevska – Institute of Conservation and Restoration and Museum – Ohrid.
The archeologist of the Institute of Conservation and Restoration and Museum – Ohrid plan to continue the excavations at Plaoshnik during the 21st century. They consider this complex one of the most significant archeological location in Ohrid and in Macedonia. It is considered one the most sacred location of the Slavic nation. Plaoshnik in Ohrid is an archeological location rich with different periods that can be divided into Kliment’s, Pre-Kliment’s and Post-Kliment’s period.
In the autumn of 1999 the archeologist Vlado Malenko initiated the final excavations on Plaoshnik in Ohrid after the remains of the Imaret mosque had been removed. The objective was to provide conditions for renovation of St. Kliment’s temple.
They had been discovered the baptistery of the five aisle basilica with hooked crosses (swastikas) on the mosaic floors which date from the period between 4th and 6th century. It is assumed that this early Christian basilica at Plaoshnik upon which the Kliment’s monastery was built in the 9th century, was dedicated to St. Paul, the apostle. In Lichnid, present Ohrid the apostle Paul preached the Christianity in the 1st century A.D.
St. Naum’s monastery and the Church of the Holy Archangels and St. Kliment’s monastery and the Church of St. Panteleimon in Ohrid were the first Slavonic monuments of ecclesiastical architecture in the Ohrid region. Built in the form of a triple conch, a trefoil shape, St. Num’s church belongs to the style of mediaeval architecture which was in fashion during the period when St. Kliment and Naum were active on the territory of today’s Republic of Macedonia and also further on the Balkans.
Subsequent to his discovery in 1955 of remains of the original church, built in the 9th century, Prof. Dimce Koco was able to throw some light on the mystery of St. Naum’s monastery. The original church was destroyed in the Turkish period. The excavations revealed many interesting new data about the alterations and additions to the church in past centuries. These were found to be of such scope as to have completely changed the original appearance of the monastery.
The excavated remains of the original church, after being conserved, were covered up again, and a new floor was laid over them. The ground plan of the original building was marked in white and black marble, to give visitors an idea of what this monument, one of the first Slav churches looked like. Archaeological investigations have shown that the present church was built in several phases between the 16th and 17th centuries on the foundation of the earlier one. The dome of the narthex was built in he late 18th century, and the last significant reconstruction took place in 1799, when a little chapel was erected above Naum’s tomb.
The church is dedicated to St. Sophia, that is, to Christ as divine wisdom. It was built on the foundations of an ancient sacral construction in the time after the great mission of St. Cyril and St. Metodij, when the Macedonian Slavs accepted the Christianity on the Slavic language. The church St. Sophia, most probably served as a cathedral in the time of tsar Samuil, who, by the end of the 10th century, transferred his throne from Prespa to Ohrid.
The external appearance of St. Sophia which was for a long time the – cathedral church of the Archbishopric of Ohrid is in a shape of the – letter, “T” with a two – side steep and transversely joined roof. The church originally had a main cupola, side galleries and a large bell – tower, above the west facade, all of which were later destroyed. The two little domes above the outer narthex as well as the narthex itself and the first – floor gallery were built at the beginning of the 14th century.
Today the church is a three – naved basilica with a triangular altar apse and semi – circular apses in the diaconicon and the prothesis. It is built with baked bricks and mortar and stone and mortar. Above the diaconicon and the prothesis there are two small chapels from the Comnenus period in the 12th century. Later the upper section of the narthex was built and at the same time in the middle of the 14th century the Chapel of the St. John the Forerunner was built. The external narthex with its gallery on the west facade of the church was built in 1313 at the time of Archbishop Gregorius as is stated in an inscription in the bricks running the length of the facade. It is considered to be a masterpiece of mediaeval architecture.
According to an inscription on the inner wall of the narthex above the main entrance, the church was built under the name of the Holy Mother of God Most Glorious (Perivleptos) in 1295 by the Byzantine military commander, Progon Zgur, a relative of the Emperor Andronicus II Palalogus. After the church of St. Sophia had been converted into mosque, the church of the Holy Mother of God Perivleptos became the cathedral church of the Archbishopric of Ohrid.
The paintings in the church of the Holy Mother of God Perivleptos mark a new chapter in mediaeval paintings. They ushered in a new trend in Byzantine art which came to be known as the Palaeologus Renaissance. They are also the earliest known works of Michael and Eutychius, distinguished mediaeval fresco painters, whose creations can be followed through nearly three decades.
The church is cruciform in shape and surmounted by an octagonal – based dome decorated on the outside with cylindrical friezes. The narthex and the central part were built at the same time. It is built of brick and travertine in a masterly combination producing an extraordinarily decorative effect and at the same time an impression of perfect harmony. Indeed, the church of the St. Bogorodica Perivlepta ranks among the most outstanding achievements of mediaeval architecture.
Built and decorated towards the end of the end of 13th century, the donor of the church and the painter of its frescoes are unknown. The church’s architecture is of great relevance to a study of Ohrid’s mediaeval monuments as it is a highly successful combination of Byzantine and Armenian elements.
The church stands on one of the finest spots on the lake shore, on a high cliff over – looking the one – time fishing settlements of Kaneo (a latin word wich means in macedonian bleech or sparkle) in the old part of Ohrid.
St. Jovan at Kaneo, one of the landmarks of old Ohrid, was restored to its original form in the course of 1963 and 1964 when the belfry and the porch – both 19th century additions – were removed. It was on that occasion that the frescoes in the dome were uncovered.
The frescoes in the dome and in the altar space have been preserved although they are considerably damaged. The reason for this is that for a lengthy period between the 17th century and 19th century the church was partially ruined and was abandoned, and a large number of the frescoes were then destroyed and lost forever.
The Church of St. Nicola Bolnicki
The church is of interest both in terms of its architecture and its frescoes. Remains of the town walls which stretched down from Samuel’s Fortress to the lakeside are to be found in the churchyard. The church has semi – circular vaulting. The belfry on its western side is unique in Macedonia and was built under the influence of architecture of the Adriatic coast.
The Church of The Holy Mother Bolnicki
This church was first decorated in 1368. It was redecorated towards the end of the 14th and it most probably took on its present form in the 15th century. Further mural paintings were added in the 19th century. The iconostasis, richly decorated with stylized floral, fruit and bird motives was carved in 1833 and is the work of the Macedonian woodcarver Nikola Darkovski Karadzovic of Lazaropole.
The Church of St. Nicola Chudotvorec
Among the inhabitants of the old part of Ohird this church is well-known as St. Nikola Chudotvorec – Chelnichki because it is situated in the vicinity of St. Bogorodica – Chelnica. It was built on the remains of an early Christian temple.
The church has been reconstructed and painted with frescoes during many centuries. It is listed among the rare galleries where the wall painting has been preserved in fragments in the period from the 11th to the 14th century and on.
For five years from 2000 to 2005 cleansing and conservation of numerous for century old fresco painting fragments was going on.
Lence Mojsoska, an art historian and custodian in the National Museum in Ohrid and Ljupco Deskovski a conservator, discovered this significant medieval artistic treasure of the ancient Ohrid.
The well-known Turkich travel writer Evlija Chelebija in 1679 gives detailed description of Ohrid. He describes the town as a developed, rich and big trade center. He compares it with Damask and Cairo in those times, as well as with other towns in the Near East and Otoman Empire. Ohrid had several beautiful and big mosques. Among them, Chelebija mentiones Aja Sophia (the cathedral church St. Sophia), then the mosque Ohrizade or the Tzar Mosque in the old hilly part of Ohrid, known as Imaret Mosque.
The houses of the Macedonian population in the old part of the town were beautiful and built by craftsmen, with layered stores, one above the other turned towards the lake.
Kliment’s monastery church St. Pantelejmon in Plaoshnik, under the Samuel’s Fortress, was transformed into a mosque. The Imaret Mosque as his memorial was built by Sinan (Jusuf) Cheleby, who came from the respected Turkish clan Ohrizade. This mosque does not exist any more. On the archeological remains of the oldest Slovenian monastery St. Pantelejmon, which was built by St. Kliment Ohridski, there is a newly built temple, Kliment’s monastery church St. Kliment and Pantelejmon, which was santificated on August, 11, 2002.
The renovation of the Kliment’s monastery church St. Kliment and Pantelejmon was done over remains of original walls of all constructed phases of the church from 9th to 14th century and remains of Sultan Mosque from the end of the 15th century. As a border between the newly constructed and original walls a plumb line was founded during the construction from the inner and outer side of the walls.
In the vicinity of the newly rebuilt monastery church of St. Kliment and Pantelejmon there is a tomb where Sinan (Jusuf) Chelebi was buried in 1493.
The Ohrid mosques are built in the flatten part of the city, where during the Turkish period caravan roads were passing by towards Durres (The Adriatic Sea) and Thessalonica (The Aegean Sea). Ajdar-pasha mosque which is situated on “Goce Delchev” street (on the old road from Ohrid to Struga) is the oldest Ohrid mosque.
In 1490 Ajdar-pasha built it as his memorial, and it was named after him. He was buried there. In the 19th century here used to be medresa – Muslem religious school.
TEKETO of the Ohrid Dervishes from the Halvets was situated at the intersection at the Chinar. In 1590 the mosque which was built at this place by Zejnelk Abedin-pasha as his dedication, carries his name. By the way, the first Sheh (ruler) of the Ohrid dervishes was Hadji Muhamed hajati, with an origin from Persia. His grave is at the front in the turbeto, which is part of the contemporary teke.
Close to the chinar, at the beginning of “St. Kliment Ohridski” street in the charshija, over numerous shops, dominates the minaret of Ali-pasha mosque built in 1573 by Sulejman pasha. In 1823 an adaptation was undertaken by the vesire Ali-pasha, whose name the mosque carries today. At the beginning of the 21st century new constructing adaptations were undertaken on this mosque in Ohrid.
In the new part of Ohird in the vicinity of Lake Ohird coast, near Palace hotel, there is a newly-built catholic church which is dedicated to three protectors of Europe the Slavic apostles St. Cyril and Methodius and St. Benedict.
It was built in 2001. The altar painting which presents the saints Cyril and Methodius and St. Benedict, is a piece of work of the Italian painting professor Vinchenco Bianki. In this catholic pastoral center the church service is performed every day.
The bishop Aloisse Tourke on Holly Spirits on May 18, 1985 has written down on the first page of a prayer book, which as a document, is in the new catholic church in Ohrid: “This prayer, the bellow signed gives as a present to the catholic church Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Ohrid who bought it and designed in 1939 fulfilling the wish of, at that time Skopje bishop dr. Janez F. Gnidovec for the numerous catholic followers and as a memory of the Slavic prophets – the holly brothers Cyril and Methodius, their pupils Kliment and Naum and as well as to formerly existing Ohrid catholic bishoprics, archbishoprics, disappeared in 1656 when Andrea Bogdani was transfered in Skopje. At that time celebration Skopje become archbisopric and existed till 1924