Orthodoxy & Byzanatium,
Islam & the Ottomans
The region has incredible examples of religious buildings from the 5th century to the present day.
Remains of two early Christian churches on the island of Golem Grad
Cathedral of Sveti Sofia, Ohrid
The church was built after the official conversion to Christianity. Some sources date the building of the church during the rule of Knyaz Boris I (852 – 889). Like many in the region, it was subsequently converted into a mosque during the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The interior of the church has been preserved with frescoes from the 11th, 12th and 13th century, which represent some of the most significant achievements in Byzantine painting of the time. The main part of the church was built in the 11th century, while external additions were built by Archbishop Gregory II in the 14th century.
Basilica of St. Achillios.
A three aisled church of the early Christian architectural style in the Byzantine period, similar to Sveti Sofija in Ohrid. It was built by Tsar Samuel to house the bones of St. Achillios.
Church of St. Germanos.
This small Byzantine church dates to the beginning of the 11th century. It's wall paintings are highly valuable, having survived relatively intact through religous conquests. Its paintings date from the 12th, 15th and 18th centuries.
St John Bigorski Monastery
Built in 1020 by Ivan I Debranin. The Ottomans destroyed the monastery in the 16th century, but it was restored in 1743 by the monk Ilarion, who also constructed a number of cells for fellow residents. The archimandrite, Arsenius, further expanded the monastery between 1812 and 1825. The monastery has a large collection of holy relics including John the Baptist, Clement of Ohrid, Paraskevi of Rome and part of the Holy Cross.
Monastery of Treskavec, or St. Bogorodica
Sits on top of Mount Zlatovrv. The monastery possesses a large collection of Byzantine frescoes, of which the oldest ones remaining date from the 15th century.
St Gjorgji, Kurbinovo
A gorgeous building now under restoration works. The paintings inside are equally magnificant, with the painting of the archangel Gabriel (right) appearing on the reverse of the 50 denar banknote.
Hermitage of the Metamorphosis
The earliest of the three hermitages, carved into the cliffs outside the village of Psarades, by Orthodox monks searching for solitude.
Hermitages of Panagia Eleousa of the Mikri Analipsis
Iljaz Mirahori Mosque, Korçë.
Built in 1494 by Iljaz Hoxha, a veteran of the Istanbul Conquest and a founder of Korçë. Its minaret was torn down during the Communist dictatorship, then rebuilt again in 2014
Ali Pasha mosque, Ohrid
Built by Suleyman Pasha, the mosque was adapted by Ali Pasha in 1823, and so the change in name.
The monastery church is dedicated to the Nativity of Virgin Mary, of whom legend says many saw her image walking around the site. The dormitory rooms are available for overnight stays.
Saint Peter, Vithkuq
Superbly preserved frescos, numbering about 2000 paintings. The church was build with the contribution of its inhabitants and painted by local masters who brought with them experience from working in Venice.
Highlights & Must-sees
852 - 889
ca. 986 - 990
1185 - 1190