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Ohrid, Macedonia - 365 churches, one for each day of the year

Church of Saint John the Theologian at Kaneo in Ohrid, Macedonia.

Ohrid is the city where you can take a real spirituality journey, or just admire the architecture of the all the amazing churches. The city is often called " Balkan Pearl" or "Jerusalem of the Balkans". It had once 365 churches, one for each day of the year. Ohrid has still many churches, and the most impressing of them all is St. John Kaneo Church.

Photo. Church of Saint John the Theologian at Kaneo on the cliff.

As the eighth-largest city in Macedonia and largest city along Lake Ohrid, Ohrid is one of the most-visited places in the country and often regarded as the “Jerusalem of the Balkans,” for its many churches (365 in total).

Nobody knows how many churches there are in Macedonia. Indeed, it is believed that there are 365 churches only around Lake Ohrid. You can find churches all around the country and you can find them on some really unusual spots – on top of hills, hidden in forests, on mountains and by rivers and lakes. Sometimes even submerged under lakes.

The churches have got their name after their placement. Some of them are open to the public and some are secret. Some of them are now abandoned, but there are few that are open to everyone. It`s also believed that there are still more churches to be found. 

Macedonia is a small country placed on the Balkan Peninsula, sandwiched between Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. The country abounds in beautiful natural landscapes with high mountains and lakes. It also is a home of historical and cultural places and sites, such as the unique Orthodox churches, some of which have remained untouched for centuries.

Ohrid is declared as the oldest city in the world, with continuous civilization advancement! Indeed, according to many historians, Lychnidos -The City of Light (the ancient name of Ohrid) was built in the 4th century B.C., but humans have lived there for more than 8.000 years.

From the top of the cliff by Church of Saint John Kaneo I got a wonderful view above the Lake Ohrid. The lake straddles the mountainous border between southwestern Macedonia and eastern Albania. It is one of Europe's deepest and oldest lakes, preserving a unique aquatic ecosystem that is of worldwide importance, with more than 200 endemic species. The importance of the lake was further emphasized when it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. Lake Ohrid is the deepest lake of the Balkans, with a maximum depth of 288 m (940 ft) and a mean depth of 155 m (508 ft) (source: Wikipedia).

The Church of St. Sofia used to be a synod church of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and later of the Archbishopric of Ohrid. The Ottomans converted it into a mosque and after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, it was once again converted into a church. Inside, even though most of it had been damaged during a fire, there are surviving pieces of frescoes from the 11th, 12th and 13th century.

St. Jovan of Kaneo was founded at the end of the 13th century and dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Its scenic location and distinctive Byzantine-style architecture make it one of the most photographed places in Macedonia – from Lake Ohrid and from the shore.

The St. Sophia Church (Sveti Sofia) in Ohrid is one of the most important monuments in Macedonia and a classic example of Macedonian medieval art and architecture. It was originally the cathedral church of the Ohrid Archbishop of the Byzantine Empire, giving it religious authority of the region. For they who have time you can admire the Frescos of the Church of St. Sophia.

Stein Morten Lund, 29th April 2018

Additional information
Tsar Samuil eventually moved the capital of the Empire to Ohrid and built one of the greatest strongholds in the Balkans. Today, Tsar Samuil’s Fortress is a popular vantage point for spectacular views of the city of Ohrid and Ohrid Lake. Got a wonderful view above Lake Ohrid, which is one of the deepest and oldest in Europe. Read more on:....

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