Ohrid, North Macedonia

General Information

Regional secretariat

Administrative status

Town located on the shore of Lake Ohrid in the southwest of the country

Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region

Registration Year


Historical function

Testimony of one of the oldest human settlements in Europe

Location and site

In the southwest of North Macedonia, Ohrid is at the edge of the lake that bears the same name. Situated 700 m. above sea level, Lake Ohrid, part of which belongs to neighbouring Albania, is surrounded by mountains. The old city of Ohrid occupies the slopes of a mountain overlooking the lake. The small town of Struga is on the nearby shore.

Urban morphology

The old city of Ohrid, which was dense within its fortifications, is dominated by the imposing fortress. Surmounting the nearby summit is a vast Early Christian basilica that possesses 700 sq.m. of frescoes. The urban grid, which is made up of narrow, winding streets and lanes and dates to the Middle Ages, is well-preserved.

The sacred architecture of Ohrid is prominent within the urban landscape. It includes early basilicas, monasteries, and medieval churches; the cathedral of Saint Sophia, with its 11th-century frescoes extending over 400 sq.m., is a masterpiece of Byzantine art. Whitewashed houses, constructed between the 17th and 19th centuries, are located in a manner that ensures each one enjoys a view of the lake and sunlight. Numerous archaeological vestiges dating to prehistory can be found on the site of the old city.

Registration criteria

Criterion (i): The town of Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. […]

Criterion (iii): The property is a testimony of Byzantine arts, displayed by more than 2,500 square metres of frescoes and more than 800 icons of worldwide fame. […]

Criterion (iv): The Lake Ohrid region boasts the most ancient Slavonic monastery and the first Slavonic University in the Balkans – the Ohrid literary school that spread writing, education and culture throughout the old Slavonic world. The old town centre of Ohrid is a uniquely preserved, authentic ancient urban entity, adjusted to its coastal lake position and terrain, which is characterised by exceptional sacred and profane architecture. […]

Criterion (vii) – natural criterion: The distinctive nature conservation values of Lake Ohrid, with a history dating from pre-glacial times, represent a superlative natural phenomenon. […]

Historical reference

  • Lihnidos, later known as Ohrid, was a Greek city before it became Roman. In the 2nd century B.C., it was an important stopover point on the Via Aegnatia, the terrestrial route that linked the shores of the Adriatic Sea and those of the Aegean Sea.
  • Integrated into the Byzantine Empire following the partition of the Roman Empire in 395 A.D., Ohrid became the seat of the Bishop in the 4th century. For centuries, it was a centre for Christianity.
  • The Slavs who came from the north during the 6th and 7th centuries settled in the city, which became a Balkan centre for Slavic culture.
  • At the turn of the 10th century, the arrival of two disciples of the Slavic apostles Cyril and Method made Ohrid and its region a centre for missionary activities and teaching. They erected two monasteries, including the Monastery of Saint Pantelejmon, which was founded by Clement of Ohrid.
  • During the same period, Ohrid became the metropolis of the Slavic Empire of the tsar Samuel and the seat of the Archbishop. Under Samuel, the old fortress was renovated; it was renovated again when the Byzantine rule was restored in 1018.
  • Ohrid was occupied by the Bulgarians in 1204, then by the Serbs in 1334. From 1394 until 1912 it was under Ottoman rule.

Source : https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/99/




Mr. Kirill Petsakov

Mayor of Ohrid
Municipality of Ohrid

Dimitar Vlahov 57
Ohrid, Macedonia, North Macedonia

+38946262492; +38946262493
[email protected]

Ms. Natasa Smileska

International cooperation
Municipality of Ohrid

Dimitar Vlahov 57
Ohrid, Macedonia, North Macedonia

+38946262492; +38946262493
[email protected]