On May 13th, we decided to visit Saint Naum which is an Eastern Orthodox monastery, about 29 km south of Ohrid. While waiting for a bus, a Mercedes pulled up and the driver offered to take us to Saint Naum for the price of the bus fare. We often get where we want to go by taking these independent transport services. It’s always the same price as the bus, but much more convenient. The drivers speak English and always have interesting information to share about the area. When we arrived at our destination, we marveled at how beautiful the area was, surrounded by the lake and mountains. From the entrance, we took a stone path that ran between the lake and the springs, to the monastery, stopping occasionally to sneak a peak in the souvenir stalls. On one side of the monastery was a lovely garden with fountains and a quaint little bridge. On the other side, there was a wall overlooking the lake, where we stopped to admire the view. At the entrance, to the monastery, there is a courtyard where some gorgeous peacocks were hanging out. After nearly being attacked, by one, I kept my distance, and we decided to admire them from afar.
The monastery, which is an example of Byzantine architecture, was established during the Bulgarian Empire in 905, by Saint Naum. It was destroyed by the Ottomans in the 15th century and rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries. The main room consists of an altar with a wall of gold-framed paintings, of saints, and a dome on the ceiling, lined with frescoes, dating from the 19th century. Another smaller room has walls covered with frescoes and contains the tomb of Saint Naum. They say if you put your ear to the tomb, you can hear his heartbeat.
After visiting the monastery, we went out the back gate, and down the hill, to the Springs of Saint Naum, which are fed by Lake Prespa. The highlight of our trip that day was taking a ride on the springs in a rowboat. We waited until a large group had gathered, then nine of us went out with a guide, and it only cost us $3.00 each, for a half hour ride. Though he didn’t speak much English, our guide made sure that we witnessed all the beautiful scenes that were possible, from the greenest trees and shrubs reflecting on the crystal clear water to the springs, bubbling up from the lake bed. He took us to the deepest part of the river, where it was so clear, you could see to the bottom. It was so peaceful out there, we planned to go back for another boat ride on our anniversary. After a great day at Saint Naum, we headed for the parking area to see when the next bus would arrive. Our driver was waiting outside the gate and told us that he had arranged another ride back for us. This time we took a van with some other guests and another very nice driver.