A unique world heritage in Macedonia – Lake Ohrid
Apart from its extent, Macedonia shelters many places to visit. It doesn’t have any seasides. However, the Lake Ohrid has been the part of the world heritage by UNESCO since 1980.
In 1980, this property was extended to include the cultural and historical area, and cultural criteria were added.
It is 30.4 km long by 14.8 km wide at its maximum extent with a shoreline length of 87.53 km, shared between Macedonia and Albania. More than two-thirds of the lake belongs to Macedonia with the region of Ohrid. The water at the surface of the Lake Ohrid moves predominantly in a counter-clockwise direction along the shore, as a result of wind forcing and earth rotation, similar to the Ekman-phenomenon known from oceans.
The Lake Ohrid is the oldest lake on the Balcan Peninsula. It was came into being about 5 million years ago. Some springs have been cherishing the lake. As long as theses springs are under the ground, it takes about 70 years for the water to have changed in the lake. The town of Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. It is reasonably well preserved, too.
Ohrid’s architecture represents the best preserved and most complete ensemble of ancient urban architecture of this part of Europe. Slav culture spread from Ohrid to other parts of Europe. Seven basilicas have thus far been discovered in archaeological excavations in the old part of Ohrid. These basilicas were built during the 5th century and contain architectural and decorative characteristics that point to a strong ascent and glory of Lychnidos, the former name of the town.
There are three cities on the lake’s shores: Ohrid and Struga on the Macedonian side; Pogradec in Albania. There are also several fishing villages, although tourism is now a more significant part of their income. More than 60 % of Ohrid’s population deal with tourism and catering.
The historic monuments, as well as the pristine lake environment make the area around Lake Ohrid a prime site for tourism. According to some researches, about 200,000 national and international tourists went on a literal pilgrimage to the Macedonian side of the lake every year. Many of the above visitors are staying for a weekend only, tourism makes an important share of local economy.
Shore habitats are under particular pressure from human activities. Particular threats are the building of tourist facilities directly at the shore, destroying of reed belts to gain agricultural land and intense pollution close to the mouth of tributaries. Although the effects of these human impacts have not been evaluated in detail they are of great concern, as the shallow water sites are particularly rich in endemic bottom fauna and form important spawning grounds for several endemic fish species.
The convergence of well-conserved natural values with the quality and diversity of its cultural, material and spiritual heritage makes this region truly unique. Its flora and fauna are also exceptional.
There were recorded 68 species of freshwater snails from the lake.