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The Ohrid Lake

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Observing the Ohrid Lake in any season as it is illuminated by the sun; one gets the impression of the lake coming to existence just then, and the millions years, as it really is old, as if they don’t exist. In its blue waters there are flora and fauna, which are known about only from the fossils.

The fundamental condition that provided the conservation of the remnants of the primeval flora and fauna and their further evolution, is the continuity of existence within the Ohrid Lake. In fact, the Ohrid Lake started to exist even before humans appeared. It is originated from the geotectonic movement of the soil in the past geological epochs. There are only few lakes in the world today that could be compared by their oldness with the Ohrid Lake.

The Ohrid Lake represents an interesting rarity even by its formation. It was formed by a vertical depression of the soil. A relatively small number of lakes were formed in the same way. Among the others is the deepest Baikal Lake in Siberia, Russia which is ten times bigger than the Ohrid Lake, and it is formed in the same manner. The waters of the two lakes are inhibited by a similar endemic floral and animal life.

The Ohrid Lake is placed in a valley surrounded by mountains whose peaks often surpass the altitude of 2000m. On the eastern side there are the mountains Petrino and Galichica. The mountain Galichica separates the Ohrid and the Prespa valleys. On the southern coast of the lake, there are the Albanian mountains.

The Ohrid Lake righteously deserves the name of a Macedonian fresh-water sea and that is not only because of its warm blue colour, which is more intense than the sky blue, but because of its size as well, as it covers an area of 358km2. Thus, we have the impression of having before us enormous sea golf or an extended sea expanse, tossed among the mountains at an altitude of 695m. Above the lake, on its northern coast as a special ornament raises the ancient Ohrid, placed on a double hill, whose highest point – the Samoil fortress is placed at an altitude of approximately 800m. The lake’s almost symmetrical elliptical shape provides the possibility from countless positions to encompass its complete, vivacious, bluish surface. From the monastery of St. Naum to the village of Radozhda, on the water surface, there stretches invisible boundary, which separates the lake into two parts. Two thirds of the lake’s surface belong to the Republic of Macedonia and one third belongs to the Republic of Albania.

The biggest length of the lake is 30 km. Its width varies with the maximum of 15km to the average width of 11km. Its biggest depth is 151m and it was measured between the villages of Peshtani and Trpeica at the distance of 5km from the lake shore.
The average depth of the lake is 151m. For its bright waters which are transparent  up to 22m, and they represent a true rarity, of special help are the numerous underwater springs, which are placed on the eastern and the southern shores. The greater number of springs is represented by underwater sources from the neighboring Prespa Lake, which is at higher altitude and is formed with tectonic movement as well. The most famous spring is Studenchishta also known as Biljana Springs, which is located close to the town. The most powerful springs are found around the monastery St. Naum (29km south of Ohrid). These springs emerge from limestone crags in the foot of the mountain Galichica. First the water is being collected in a vivacious small lake, which throughout its existence has formed two small islands. The crystal clear water of the small lake flows into the Ohrid Lake. In Struga (14km away from Ohrid) the waters of the Ohrid Lake flow out the river Crni Drim, which through Albania flows into the Adriatic Sea. From olden times, the shore of the Lake Ohrid have been densely populated. During later centuries, besides the numerous fishermen villages, three bigger settlements were formed; Ohrid and Struga on the Macedonian part and Pogradec on the Albanian part.

With its unique flora and fauna, the Ohrid Lake represents of the biggest biological reserves in Europe. Since the first scientific researches done in the 19th century, it was discovered that in it, as one of the oldest lakes on the planet, primeval species were preserved, which do not exist in other places or they are only found in the form of fossils. The Ohrid fishes have exceptional importance. The fish fauna of the Ohrid Lake is consisted of 17 species, which belong to three groups: trout, white fish and eels. Ten of these species are endemic. Among the most famous endemic fish, which inhabit only in the Ohrid Lake are Letnica and Belvica. Besides the eel, the dace, the beanpole, the barbell, the skobal and the moranec, there lives the small fish Plashica. The Ohrid endemic circular sponge represents one of the most interesting relict forms in the lake. It has been proved that in this lake there are many endemic and unknown floral and animal forms and that is how the lake represents a unique natural museum. Thus, the Ohrid Lake is one of the natural reserves on our planet. The Ohrid Lake is positioned in a valley in which the Adriatic, the Aegean, the continental and the climate of the high mountains collide.

During the summer season the International Swimming Marathon is organized in the Lake Ohrid. Swimmers from all over the world participate in this marathon, which was first organized in 1962. The broad studies from the medical experts confirmed that on the shores of the Ohrid Lake there are excellent conditions for development of the health tourism. The altitude and the clear atmosphere stimulate the creation of red blood cells. The waters of the lake are beneficial in the process of curing Polio.

Under the waters of the Ohrid Lake prehistoric archeological reserves have been found. Towards the end of the 20th century the divers from Ohrid have discovered lake-dwelling settlements in the region Gradishte close to the village Peshtani.

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