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 the Republic of Macedonia, as well as neighboring countries Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro and as far as Russia, 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. Churches to visit include:
St.Sophia church 11th c. - Cathedral of Ohrid archbishops. Fourth basilica built on this same spot (the oldest one being a Roman basilica (courthouse)). Present church was built in 1035 by archbishop Lav, front facade with the towers and the open galleries was built in 1317 by archbishop Gregory. The side porch was added when the church was turned into a mosque by the Turks. Inside is the biggest composition of 11th century frescoes preserved in the world. The main altar has scenes from the old testament and an emotional procession of angels bowing to Virgin Mary. The side altars have a fresco of the 40 martyrs (Roman soldiers left to freeze because they didn't want to give up Christianity) which is very rarely depicted (in the left altar) and (in the right altar) portraits of Patriarchs from Constantinople, Jerusalem and Antioch, archbishops from Ohrid and Roman Popes (Ohrid archbishopcy always flirted with Roman Catholicism, so it would keep its important position with the Orthodox church). The small square in front of it was the main forum in ancient times. 100 denars.
St.Bogorodica Perivlepta 13th c. - The church was built and painted in 1295. It is dedicated to Virgin Mary, Perivlepta (from [[Greek] ΠερÎ¯βλεπτος]] is a attribute given to her meaning "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, two young painters. Their work shows that styles later adopted in the Renaissance were already current in Byzantine art long before Gioto. The frescoes they painted have all the elements of the renaissance art except perspective. Important frescoes: (eastern wall) the portraits of St. Klement and Konstantin Kavasila (archbishop of Ohrid), detailed portraits with personal features; Lamentation of Christ, painted with many emotions, Virgin Mary is about to faint, a woman next is holding her, women are pulling their hair from pain in disbelief, on the right notice a woman acting reasonably and trying to stop another from pulling her hair, angels above the whole scene are crying, in the left corner notice a group of women doing what normal people do gossiping about what happened; (western wall) Prayer in the olive mountain as the apostles are sleeping take a look at their dresses and how well the artists worked with color and showed the roundness of the bodies; (northern wall) Death of Virgin Mary in order to present the holiness of the moment there is a bunch of angels coming from the gates of the sky to take her soul, above her stands Jesus holding her soul, notice her body and how familiar are the artists with the human anatomy. The figures painted by Michael and Eutychius are not presented the traditional Byzantine way, skinny, emotionless and with their thoughts wondering 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 at the sword and the cloth of two holy warriors). Their work left strong influence on the Byzantine art. 100 denars to enter.
St.John Kaneo church 13th c. – most known for its scenic location, standing on a cliff over Lake Ohrid. Notable about the cute architecture is Armenian influence in the zig-zag line of the roof of the dome. 100 denars (There are only few frescoes left inside, but the feeling of standing in centuries used sanctuary is worth the entrance).
St.Pantelejmon – Plaoshnik - It has been very important religious center since early Christian times, if not before. It is the site of the first university in Europe, opened in the 10th c. and it is the place where the cyrillic alphabet was created. The church you see is a reconstruction of the church St.Klement built when he came here and opened the university. The 5 nave early Christian basilica in the middle of which the church stands is from the 5th century (interesting mosaics in the baptistery and in the side chapel covered with red plastic roof). The atrium was built on the side since there was no space in the front. It probably was the cathedral in early Christian times. When St.Klement came here in the 10th c. just the small round chapel that today serves as altar existed. Because of the large influx of worshipers that followed him, he enlarged the church by building the central part of the church and turning the existent church into an altar chapel, and he dedicated the church to St Panteleimon (protector of health). The closed porch and the belltower were added later in the 13th century. Before St.Klement died he dig his own grave inside the church. When the Turks came they torn the church down after a rebellion. It still attracted large number of worshipers and pilgrims so they built a mosque above it. Until recently both the mosque and the church were standing in ruins. The reconstruction is a big guess since they didn't know anything but the shape of the church. The height, the shape of the domes and the decorations are a wild guess. Free entrance.