St. Sophia, Ohrid- the most special among 365 churches

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Wondering around Ohrid

I have always thought of this church, that is centrally placed in Ohrid, as a sculpture. The Beautiful sculpture which shape was changed during history so many times. Sometimes changed, sometimes newly upgraded, and finally, today it exist with its all beauty to witness the intense history in Balkans.

Besides its significance as a monument, the interior of the church and its yard and colonnade are an important place for the holding of cultural events such as concerts and drama performances. Originally, the church had only one main dome, and in the 14th century, the lavish exterior was built. In its original form, it belonged to three-nave basilicas with a transept, dome, and galleries on the side parts.

As early as the XI century, there was a porch, and above the northern and southern section of the altar, special chapels were formed. This shaped building, almost three centuries later, got a porch that presented the peak of architectural culture in Macedonia from the 14th century. The elongated porch is conceived horizontally, with a porch on the ground floor and galleries on the floor, and on the north and south sides of the mentioned porch, separated sections with towers are raised.

In the second half of the 15th century, the church was converted into a mosque and then the biggest changes were made. All the frescoes were covered with lime, the dome of the church was struck and flattened with the roof, while the old altar marble compartment with plastic decoration was removed, and minarets were erected over the northwest cubits. During 1912 this object was used even as a stockpile of weapons.

Immediately after the Second World War, measures were taken to keep this monument from further decay. In 1949 the cleaning of the frescoes, which were wiped out by the Ottomans, began. The interior of the church is preserved with its frescoes from the XI century, XII and XIII century, which represent the top of the Byzantine fresco painting in its time. So, we can sum that the main part of the church was built in the XI century, while the external upgrades were built on the order of Archbishop Gregory I in the 14th century.

Nowadays you can visit this monument and during summers you can enjoy cultural events that are taking place in this beautiful cathedral.


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The author

Zlata Golaboska

Zlata Golaboska

I am Zlata and I am an architect living in the Balkans. I am passionate about cities, how people influence architecture and vice versa, and how places change our lives.

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