Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Macedonian Heritage Site To Face UNESCO Probe

  • With a beautiful natural setting and a rich architectural heritage, Ohrid is Macedonia's best-known tourist destination. 
  • The cool, tranquil waters of the 300-meter-deep Lake Ohrid are a major attraction for visitors. 
  • Lake Ohrid and the nearby Galicica Mountain are home to a number of endemic species. 
  • As one of the oldest human settlements in Europe, Ohrid is the location of many important archaeological sites, including this one on Plaosnik Hill.
  • The medieval monaestery of St. Naum is another important historical site. 
  • Ohrid's popularity with tourists is something of double-edged sword, however, with recent development plans causing some concern among conservationists. 
PHOTO GALLERY: The beautiful and historically significant town of Ohrid, Macedonia
Proposed large-scale developments in the Macedonian lakeside city of Ohrid could see the picturesque town lose its much-coveted UNESCO heritage status.

A spokeswoman for the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Petya Totcharova, told Balkan Insight recently that a commission would be sent to check government plans to build a university on Plaosnik Hill, which overlooks the city and is also the site of an important archaeological dig.

Totcharova said UNESCO inspectors would be seeking "to ensure that negative effects for the state of Ohrid are avoided."

She added that the UNESCO commission was "equally worried" about plans for a new development near the medieval monastery of St. Naum.

Losing its status as a World Heritage site would be a blow to the popular tourist destination, which is one of just 28 locations worldwide to have been listed by UNESCO in both its culture and nature categories.

WATCH: Ohrid's natural and cultural heritage

According to the organization's website, the "city and its historic-cultural region are located in a natural setting of exceptional beauty, while its architecture represents the best preserved and most complete ensemble of ancient urban architecture of the Slavic lands." 

Besides being situated between a stunning lake and the nearby Galicica Mountain, which are home to many endemic species, Ohrid is believed to be one of the oldest human settlements in Europe.

It boasts the oldest Slav monastery (St. Panteleimon) and also has one of the most important collections of Byzantine-style icons in the world.

Given all the attractions it has for tourists, it is perhaps inevitable that Ohrid will attract ambitious developers, much to the chagrin of conservationists.

Late last year, Indian magnate Subrata Roy caused consternation when he let it be known he wished to build a 240-hectare, Dubai-style complex on Lake Ohrid's shores.

According to Totcharova, UNESCO inspectors will descend on the city in September or October this year.

Should they decide to revoke Ohrid's heritage credentials, it will only be the third site to have suffered such an ignominious fate.

In 2007, Oman's Arabian Oryx Sanctuary lost its natural heritage status after the government reduced its size to begin drilling for oil. Two years later, the Dresden Elbe Valley was also delisted thanks to the construction of the four-lane Waldschlossen Bridge, which was officially opened last week.

-- Coilin O'Connor
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Kris from: Australia
August 27, 2013 20:29
Their should be a review. It's sad that large scale development has to happen, but what can the country do? Just sit and wait to join the EU. Macedonias name is a fundamental human right and membership could help put off development and support better management. But like other parts of the world the country must do everything it can so its people can have a job. The environment come second over and over again.
In Response

by: JC from: London
August 29, 2013 10:10
Fantastic Comment! I couldn't agree more. Its so refreshing to read a constructive post about Macedonia and its ongoing issues. Many thanks.
In Response

by: Nick the Greek from: United Kingdom
September 08, 2013 19:05
There should be no resistance from Southern-Slavs admitting to the Hellenic origins of the Macedonians. Macedonia is Hellenic - FYRoM is Slavic! Slavic Countries inform FYRoM they are Slavic...if they disagree, eject them from Slavdom, from the Slavic collective of peoples. We cannot have a situation where a newly emergent Slavic country rejects its Slavic heritage in order to usurp a Hellenic one. Macedonia is Hellenic, Macedonians are the Greeks that still continue to self-determine in the tradition of their regional-tribal ancestors. Macedonians have always been Centum Greek-speaking Hellenic-peoples...a regional historical people-group of ethnic-Greek stock. FYRoM contests it, that is why they are shunned and isolated, stuck up a siding, kept at arms length, at a distance from the European family of Nations they say, they aspire to join.

Macedonia is Hellenic and the Greeks that live there reserve the right to carry on self-declaring in the tradition of their regional-tribal ancestors - Who got face to deny them! There are no rights or protocols high enough, that can force Greeks to discontinue self-determining in the tradition of their regional-tribal ancestors. FYRoM is Slavic, the parent-ethnicity there is Slavic...Macedonians cannot have a Slavic parent-ethnicity when history recorded them as a Centum Greek-speaking Hellenic-peoples with ethnic-feelings and collective memories to match. The word Macedon comes from the Greek word 'Makednos' first mentioned in Homer's Odyssey and later by Herodotus who called the Doric-tribes Makednon Eunos. The word Makednos means "tall" akin to something like highlander. Some archaeologists believe that Macedonians were named thus because they were tall mountain peoples. The Greek words Macetia and Macetae were also used to Identify ancient-Macedonians.

Greece objects to FYRoM's use of the Macedonian name for ethnic-racial, cultural-linguistic Identity, when it is known, all of those Identity factors apply more to Greeks than to FYRoM's ethnically-engineered propagandized South-Slavs. Greece objects to FYRoM's use of the name "Republic of Macedonia" for sovereign state-name when this is historically and geographically incorrect. There has never existed a Macedonian Nation outside of Hellenism...attempting to create one now could only be achieved through pseudo-historical revisionism, the rewriting of classicist history. History shall record that FYRoM attempted to rewrite Greco-roman history in order to place itself in classicist antiquity, as a Nation of Serbo-Bulgarian speaking Macedonians, with ethnic-feelings, kinship bonds, blood-ties and cultural-linguistic affiliations, not to Greeks and Hellenism but to Slavs and Slavdom. In truth, Macedonia is Hellenic - Macedonians always spoke Centum-Greek, they espoused kinship bonds, blood-ties, cultural-religious affiliations to Hellenism and other Greeks. By their own admissions and testimonies, Macedonians always self-declared speech, in genous and in demeanor. FYRoM shall go down in history as the usuper of Greek history, a culture thief, the Slavic pretender to the ancient-Macedonian legacy. History shall record FYRoM this way!

by: Rasto from: Seoul
August 29, 2013 02:18
Mr. O'Connor you wrote "It boasts the oldest Slav monastery (St. Panteleimon) and also has one of the most important collections of Byzantine-style icons in the world".-..?????? Dear Mr.O'Connor what makes you think that church and monastery from 12th century is an oldest Slav monastery. Please sort out your facts and figures. That sentence is so out of reality. It is worst than reading an article about the Scottish saint St.Patrick.

Thank you for your comment, Rasto. I actually took this information from UNESCO's own website description of Ohrid, which I took to be a reliable source in this instance:

"Situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid, the town of Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. Built mainly between the 7th and 19th centuries, it has the oldest Slav monastery (St Pantelejmon) and more than 800 Byzantine-style icons dating from the 11th to the end of the 14th century."

I would be happy to make a correction if you have information more reliable than that published by the UN's Educational, Science and Cultural Organization.

Best regards

-- Coilin O'Connor

by: Nick the Greek from: United Kingdom
September 08, 2013 19:08
FYRoM and Greece could have been friends if things had started out differently. What ruined it was FYRoM's diaspora communities in Canada and Australia. There are so many radicalized-propagandized groupings in those places, each with their own financial-resources and political-agendas.

It quickly became apparent to Greece and a big concern for the International security community, that some politicized diaspora communities might affiliate with outside-Interests, to push their specific agendas.

Turkey specifically, involved itself politically with FYRoM's diaspora communities, supporting the UMD financially, and at various other levels which ultimately affected the overall balance in the diaspora, also influenced indirectly, the internal political affairs of the mother-country FYRoM. These actions disturbed the International security community.

It's never too late...there is no bigger problem for FYRoM than to resolve it's problems with Greece. The name dispute should end now - there are no valid arguments for it's continuation.

Macedonia is Hellenic - FYRoM is Slavic...Macedonians have always spoken Centum-Greek, espoused kinship bonds, blood-ties, religious and cultural affiliations towards Hellenism and other Greeks. There are no radicalized propagandized groupings big enough or powerful enough to alter these established historical facts any longer. There voice is much diminished now, it no longer reverberates outside Canada or Australia.

FYRoM has to find a different narrative now, for coveting without due regard, the Macedonian name for sovoreign state-name, nationality, language and ethnicity - it is common-knowledge now...FYRoM is Slavic and Macedonia is Hellenic.

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