According to architect Dimitar Zarcev, the fundamental architectural feature of Ohrid ever since its foundation have been the three main entries to the city: Dolna Porta (Lower Gate), Celna Porta (Front Gate), and Gorna Porta (Upper Gate). The streets within the fortress crossed downtown, in the vicinity of St. Sofija Cathedral Church, the pride of Ohrid. In terms of its architectonics, the old and most commonly two-storey houses were tall, with eaves, and without cellars. They comprised a guest room and one or two family rooms.
It is characteristic that the ground floor was made of stone covered with raw plaster or mud, whereas the other two floors were a wooden construction. They had rectangular windows and massive nailed doors. The light construction allowed the erection of more floors, architect Zarcev says. All this was done for practical reasons -- the streets were narrow, so every inch had to be used.
Another feature is the absence of side walls, unlike the Struga houses. Instead, each and every Ohrid house had a four-sided roof to protect it, making each neighbouring house inaccessible.
Despite the Turkish influence on Ohrid’s old architecture, Zarcev says that the Turkish houses must be distinguished from the Macedonian ones, especially those from the period of Dzeladin Bey, when Ohrid flourished as a city.
As opposed to the Macedonian houses, all Turkish houses with no exception had a ground floor and an upper floor, arch windows, and a balcony, which is not typical of the Macedonian urban architecture. Moreover, Turkish houses had cushioned wall benches for sitting, whereas Macedonians used to sit on sofas.
Ohrid’s bazaar is also specific. Ohrid, however, did not have a covered market, as a basic feature of every bazaar at the time. Architect Zarcev assumes that Ohrid may not have been powerful and rich enough back then. Speaking of 20th-century and present-day architecture, Zarcev says that a nation's treasury is not measured only by its old architecture, warning against neglecting the architecture of the socialist era, because it is, after all, part of our history and of our people's mentality.
According to Zarcev, the society’s industrialization marked the beginning of a decline in architecture. Public space destruction and dehumanization is the worst thing that has happened to Ohrid. Architecture is disregarded as a science and what dominates is professional urbanism, which is profit-making by nature, Zarcev explains, warning that Ohrid must not allow this.
Author: Iskra Opetceska