Ohrid was on the rise as the seat of Samuel's empire between 992 and 1018. Tsar Samuel expanded the former medieval palace and city walls during his reign. “The Fortress of Tsar Samuel” as the citadel is mostly called today, is located at the highest point of the city of Ohrid, the city hill Gorni Saraj and was part of the fortifications that surrounded the city. The fortified complex of Samuel´s Fortress and city walls had about 20 wall and gate towers and city and fortress gates and is one of the largest medieval fortification constructions in Macedonia. What remains is the former citadel of the fortified town Ohrid with ruins of the palace and barracks.
Today, the fortress is a popular destination for tourists, since it offers a far-reaching panoramic view of the City of Ohrid, the Lake Ohrid and the Galicica Mountains Nationals Park. The Ohrid Lake Region is listed by the UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage and also as World Natural Heritage. The region offers a unique landscape and fauna in the border region of Northern Macedonia and Albania.
Citadel Ohrid: Palace Area
The citadel was devided in two parts of which in the south part lived the emperor, and in the other one the soldiers were accommodated. The palace area was surrounded by a row of towers, of which the largest and the strongest one is located at the weakest point of the fortress, and the main entrance to the Citadel which is strengthened with two semicircular defensive towers is magnificent.
Samuels Ohrid Fortress is still a site of archaeological research in this city of Ohrid, which has been permanently inhabited since the Bronze Age. On the restored fortress walls you can walk around the whole fortress complex and enjoy magnificent views of the hinterland, the impressive Lake Ohrid and the neighboring country Albania.
Citadel Ohrid: Military Area
The second area of Ohrid Citadel was reserved for the soldiers. This northern part is surrounded by high walls too, which are partly open for a walk. Today the ruins inside the walls are part of the archaeological researches of Ohrid.
Fortress Gates Ohrid
The walled town had three main gates: the Upper Gate, adjacent to the church of the Virgin Peribleptos and the ancient theater, the Front Gate, at the present church of the Virgin Chelnica and the Lower Gate, located about fifty meters from the shore of the lake, near the church of St. Nicholas Bolnichki. A walk through the city reveals these and other traces of the former city fortifications.
And not to forget the maginificent main gate of the Citadel with the two impressive towers.
Tour Offers and Information
Learn about the exciting history of Ohrid during the City Tour, which also partly touches on the history of the former walled town.
Monument and History
First written references about the city Lychnidos (antique name of Ohrid) go back to year 209 BC and includes a fortress. It also mentions a fortification. In 478 AC was written, that the fortified city had strong defensive power because of which the Ostrogoth king Theodoric the Amalian, in its military campaign toward the New Epirus did not succeeded to conquer Lychnidos.
For a short time between 992 and 1018, Ohrid became the capital and residence city of the first Bulgarian empire.
Throughout history the fortress has been destroyed many times, rebuilt and upgraded, so that it bears marks from almost all the historical epochs when Ohrid ruled by the Romans, Byzantines, Slavs and Ottoman Turks.
The historic role of Samuel's Fortress ends with the outlaw central Ottoman rule Dzeladin-Bey, who as an independent feudal lord ruled Ohrid in late 18th and the first decades of the 19th century. He was the last who carried out major interventions on the ramparts of the citadel and that used it for defense and living. In the southern part of the citadel, in 1808 he built his palace, known as the Upper Palace.
Quelle: ©Ohrid Museum Quelle: http://www.historyofmacedonia.org/RomanMacedonia/Cometopuli.htm Quelle: By Dalco26 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15927662
The first traces of a fortification, which Philip II of Macedonia may have further developed, come from the Encheleans in the 4th century BC. The remains of that oldest fortress are confirmed by the archaeological excavations that uncovered stone blocks, placed on the internal and outer sides near the northern ramparts at today's Citadel, in the direction southeast-northwest.
Most of the walls of the Citadel and suburban area, along with the preserved towers date from the time of the emperor Samuel, from 976 to 1014, and then, from the time of his successors until 1018. During this phase the fortress became to one of the largest medieval fortification constructions in Macedonia.
The fortified complex of Samuel´s Fortress and city walls had about 20 wall and gate towers and city and fortress gates. The city walls were between 6 and 16 meters high.
Besides the basic function of defense against enemies, the fortress also served as residence. Its central part or Citadel is divided with a wall in two parts of which in the first lived the emperor, and in the other one the soldiers were accommodated. From the outer side, the wall of this space is strengthened with a row of towers, of which the largest and the strongest one is located at the weakest point of the fortress, and the main entrance to the Citadel which is strengthened with two semicircular defensive towers is magnificent.
The second part of the fortress consists of a broad protective wall around the suburban area where courtiers lived with their families.
The town had three main gates: the Upper Gate, adjacent to the church of the Virgin Peribleptos and the ancient theater, the Front Gate, at the present church of the Virgin Chelnica and the Lower Gate, located about fifty meters from the shore of the lake, near the church of St. Nicholas Bolnichki. Only the Upper Gate in which as a building material marble tombstone with Greek and Roman inscriptions and other elements derived from ancient buildings in the city is used, has been fully preserved.
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The Ohrid Lake Region is listed by the UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage and also as World Natural Heritage (
unesco.org). The region offers a unique landscape and fauna in the border region of Northern Macedonia and Albania.
The vegetation in the Galicica National Park is very diverse, including extremely rare types of flowers. The relief of the Galicica region is particularly pronounced: the high mountain peaks with a height of more than 2000 meters, the wooded area and in the higher areas the wide pastures with numerous medicinal herbs that adorn the mountain backdrop.
Well-marked mountain and hiking trails as well as a rich cultural heritage of the Galicica National Park and its surroundings attract nature and culture history lovers. The lower slopes of the Galicica mountain reach the edge of the two beautiful lakes and offer a view of exceptional and unforgettable beauty.
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