About Ochrid

The city of Ochrid, also spelled Ohrid, is located on the eastern shore of Lake Ochrid in what is now the Republic of Macedonia, north of Greece and southeast of Serbia (see map).

Ochrid has an ancient history. In Greek and Roman antiquity it was known as Lychnidos. Bishops from Lychnidos participated in several Ecumenical Councils. The city is situated on the Via Egnatia, a highway built by the Romans in the 2nd century BC to facilitate travel by land between Rome and Asia Minor.
The Bulgarians conquered the city in 867, and the name "Ochrid" (or Achrida) first appeared in 879. Between 990 and 1015 Ochrid was the capital and stronghold of the Bulgarian Empire (ruled by Tsar Samuel), which—although Orthodox since 864—was in conflict with Constantinople. After the Byzantine conquest of the city in 1018, the Bulgarian Patriarchate was downgraded to a semiautonomous Archbishopric, but still under the authority of Constantinople. After 1018 the archbishops were almost invariably Greek, including during the period of Ottoman subjugation. Blessed Theophylact is the most famous of these archbishops, because of his Scriptural commentaries and other writings.

As an episcopal city, Ohrid was an important cultural center. According to tradition, the city of Ochrid once had within its boundaries 365 churches and chapels—one for every day of the year. Many of its surviving churches were built by the Byzantines and the Bulgarians: others date to the time of Serbian rule during the late Middle Ages. They include the Cathedral of St. Sophia, in which Blessed Theophylact served. It is believed to have been built or rebuilt between the years 1035-1056 on the grounds of an earlier Christian basilica. The interior of this cathedral has been preserved with frescoes from the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries, representing some of the most beautiful and influential achievements of Byzantine iconography of that time.
Interior of the Church of St Naum
Interior of the Church of St Naum
Interior of the Church of St Naum
The city of Ochrid is also associated with the origins of the Cyrillic alphabet, attributed to Saint Clement of Ochrid, a disciple of Saints Cyril and Methodius. (Blessed Theophylact wrote the first Life of Saint Clement.) The Bulgarian king Boris sent Clement to Ochrid where he taught the Slavonic language and the Glagolithic alphabet to some 3,500 disciples between the years 886 and 893. Upon his death in 916 Saint Clement was buried in the monastery of Saint Panteleimon which he had founded in Ochrid.
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