Ohrid (MacedonianОхрид [ˈɔxrit] (About this soundlisten)) is a city in North Macedonia and the seat of the Ohrid Municipality. It is the largest city on Lake Ohrid and the eighth-largest city in the country, with over 42,000 inhabitants as of 2002. Ohrid once had 365 churches, one for each day of the year, and has been referred to as a “Jerusalem of the Balkans”.[2][4] The city is rich in picturesque houses and monuments, and tourism is predominant. It is located southwest of Skopje, west of Resen and Bitola. In 1979 and 1980 respectively, Ohrid and Lake Ohrid were accepted as Cultural and Natural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Ohrid is one of only 28 sites that are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage that are Cultural as well as Natural sites.[5]

In antiquity, the city was known under the ancient Greek name of Λυχνίς (Lychnis) and Λυχνιδός (Lychnidos) and the Latin Lychnidus,[6][7] probably meaning “city of light”, literally “a precious stone that emits light”,[8] from λύχνος (lychnis), “lamp, portable light”.[9] Polybius, writing in the second century BC, refers to the town as Λυχνίδιον – Lichnidion.[10] It became capital of the First Bulgarian Empire in the early medieval period and was often referred to by Byzantine writers as Achrida (Ἄχριδα, Ὄχριδα, or Ἄχρις).[11][6] By 879 AD, the town was no longer called Lychnidos but was referred to as Ohrid.[12][13] In Macedonian language and the other South Slavic languages, the name of the city is Ohrid (Охрид). In Albanian, the city is known as Ohër or Ohri and in modern Greek Ochrida (Οχρίδα, Ωχρίδα) and Achrida (Αχρίδα).

Ancient age

Distribution of cities in antiquity in the border of southern Illyria with Greeks and Thracians.

The earliest inhabitants of the widest Lake Ohrid region were the Enchele, an Illyrian tribe[14] and the Dassaretae, an ancient Greek tribe based further East in the region of Lynkestis.[15][16] According to recent excavations this was a town as early as of king Phillip II of Macedon.[17] They conclude that Samuil’s Fortress was built on the place of an earlier fortification, dated to 4th century BC.[17] During the Roman conquests, towards the end of 3rd and the beginning of 2nd century BC, the Dassaretae and the region Dassaretia were mentioned, as well as the ancient Greek city of Lychnidos (Greek: Λυχνιδός).[18] The existence of the ancient Enchelean city of Lychnidos is linked to the Greek myth of the Phoenician prince Cadmus who, banished from Thebes, in Boeotia, fled to the Enchele[19] and founded the town of Lychnidos[20] on the shores of the modern Lake Ohrid.[21] The Lake of Ohrid, the ancient Greek Lacus Lychnitis (Greek: Λυχνίτις), whose blue and exceedingly transparent waters in antiquity gave to the lake its Greek name; it was still called so occasionally in the Middle Ages. It was located along the Via Egnatia, which connected the Adriatic port Dyrrachion (present-day Durrës) with Byzantium. Archaeological excavations (e.g., the Polyconch Basilica from the 5th century) prove early adoption of Christianity in the area. Bishops from Lychnidos participated in multiple ecumenical councils.