Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Macedonian monasteries: Sveti Naum

As one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Macedonia, you'd think we'd have covered this one already. Sveti Naum, near the Albanian border, is magnificent. Its grounds with its peacocks, Lake Ohrid, the beautiful 17th c. church, the hotel... The entire region is rich in monasteries, churches and caves.

The original church was built in 900 by St. Naum himself (who is buried there). Legend says that if you put your ear to his tomb, you can still hear his heart beat. His sweat and blood are what made this beautiful site possible. From the monastery grounds, you can see the Albanian town of Pogradec on the other side of the lake on a clear day.

Admission to the Church of Sveti Naum: 100MKD (approx. £1.45)

Other churches and monasteries in the area include: 
  • Church of St. Sofia
  • Church of St. Bogorodica Perivlepta
  • St. Clement's monastery
  • Church of St. Nicholas Bolnicki
  • Church of St. Dimitry
  • Church of the Holy Mother
There are, because of the landscape, some churches located in caves as well. St. Erasmo, St. Stefan and St. Bogorodica all built churches in the cave system nearby. In most the frescos painted right on to the ceilings of the caves have been preserved but the caves themselves went through numerous reconstructions during their existence. Archaeologists estimate that they date back as far at the beginning of the 13th c. and were used by small groups of monks looking for solitude and peace for prayer.

Reaching the beautiful Lake Ohrid is easy. There is an airport 9 km from the town and is used by the following airlines: Ada Air, Balkan Airlines, Adria Airways, MAT, JAT and Aviompeks. The easiest way to get here though is to fly to Skopje and drive. It's essential though to do a proper flight comparison to know when is the best time to fly to Macedonia.

Have you ever been? What other sights around Macedonia do you recommend?