This tailor-made, twin-centre itinerary combines the historic and cultural attractions of Macedonia’s capital with charming Lake Ohrid, one of the world’s oldest lakes. Skopje is a wonderful city in which to spend a few days exploring. With the River Vadar dissecting the compact capital into a predominantly Muslim half to the north, and Orthodox Christian side to the south, the city’s Ottoman and Byzantine influences are very much in evidence. In the Turkish area known as Caršija, the large daily bazaar, Turkish trading inns, ornate mosques and ancient fortress provide a fascinating insight into the city’s history. Be sure to visit Mustafa Pasha Mosque, the largest and most ornately decorated mosque in the city, and the Daut Pasha Baths National Gallery – a 15th century bath house which now houses a gallery of contemporary art.
The jewel in Macedonia’s crown is undoubtedly its beautiful countryside and stunning rural monasteries, and an ideal base to explore these is the picturesque town of Ohrid. The UNESCO-protected town in the southernmost part of Macedonia was the cradle of Slavonic literacy, which brothers Cyril and Methodius, and later their disciples St. Clement and St. Naum, spread from the Ohrid Literary School, the first Slavonic University in the Balkans, long before Bologna. Ohrid is a citymuseum with an abundance of archaeological treasures including early Christian basilicas and beautiful churches, the most famous of which is the church of St. John at Kaneo, perched dramatically on the cliffs above the lake. From Ohrid it is also possible to explore stunning Galicica National Park which extends from the lake into the mountains, and offers endless pristine landscapes.