Human Activities in the basin - SOER 3

Human Activities in the basin - SOER 3

with psychology. These two scholars and missionaries made Ohrid the Jerusalem of the

Balkans, at least among the Slavs. They are also responsible for the beginnings of the

national culture, linked tightly to the church. During the subsequent centuries, when the

Macedonian people had no state of their own, the church protected them from being

assimilated into other cultures.

Around the middle of the tenth century Samuel established his empire, extending throughout

the greater Slavic region. Samuel and his successors Gavrilo Radomir and Jovan Vladislav,

ruled from 976-1018, first from Prespa and then from Ohrid. Samuel built one of the largest

mediaeval fortresses in Macedonia on the hill in Ohrid. He built his fortress on the site of an

older, much smaller fortress constructed in Lychinodos, on the top of the hill. The fortress

enclosed the entire hilltop on all sides except the south side, which faces the lake. Entrance

to the town was through three gates, of which only the upper gate has been preserved (Figure

3.2). Within the wall of the fortress were numerous

streets with a large number o multi-story buildings

and wooden houses. During these years, and the

centuries that followed, numerous churches and the

famous frescoes and icons were created.

Figure 3.2. The upper gate into Samuel’s

fortress on the hill in the town of Ohrid.

Up until the late 14 th and early 15 th centuries, most

of the inhabited town was within the walls of the

fortress. As the town expanded into the 15 th

century, the Turks settled the lower parts of town on

the level stretches of Ohrid. Wishing to retain their

good influence over the Slavs, the Court of

Constantinople appointed as the head of the Ohrid

Archbishopric only the most influential and capable

church dignitaries, including writers, philosophers,

theologians and poets. Ohrid developed into a prosperous town that also attracted some of

the best-known painters and architects of the period.

The Ottoman Turks ruled in Ohrid from the end of the 14 th century to 1912. Some of the

noblemen of Ohrid assisted Skenderbeq, the Albanian national hero, against the Turks, and as

a result, many local churchmen and wealthy local citizens were taken into custody and died in

prison. Despite this, Ohrid continued to thrive. At the turn of the 19 th century, Ohrid was a

thriving economic as well as cultural center. Its famous leather workshops exported goods to

Europe and the east. Revolutionary activity first against the Greek spiritual and cultural

influence in the 19 th century, and then against Ottoman rule in the Ilinden Rebellion in 1903

led to heavy reprisals by the Turks, and many men, women and children were killed. In the

past six decades since World War II, Ohrid has again prospered. Today its colorful history is

a key aspect of local pride and the tourism industry.

Throughout the history of the Ohrid region, water was treated as a sacred gift from God,

especially in the vicinity of the churches and monasteries. Water has also always been


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