Located at the foot of Mount Jablanica, Struga is a city sprawled on a lake and river. And not just any lake, but the oldest one in Europe – Lake Ohrid. And not just any river, but the Crni Drim – the river that is born from the springs near St. Naum, passes through Lake Ohrid and in the very heart of the city, flows out from the lake and heads on a long way to the Adriatic Sea.
Struga is the “City of Bridges”, as Anna Komnina, a Byzantine princess and one of the first female historians, called it. Also known as the “City of Eels”, due to the fascinating story of the Ohrid eels. Namely, for millennia they have been migrating by traveling through the Crni Drim, swimming across several seas to reach the Sargasso Sea – to breed and die there, and their young instinctively, by the same way, return back to Struga. Hence the old name of Struga, Enchalon, which in ancient Greek means eel.
Man found a nice place to live on the territory of Struga as early as the Neolithic, which is evidenced by the prehistoric settlements at the sites “Usta na Drim” and “Crkovni livagje”, as well as the rich underwater archaeological site “Vrbnik”. Over time, the rule over Struga passed from one ruler to another, leaving each part of their culture as a seal of the city of their own time. However, the city keeps its calm all the time, which seems to come from the yin-yang relationship of the two waters, from the
whiteness of Lake Ohrid and the darkness of the Crni Drim.
Although inhabited since the Neolithic, Struga lived well through antiquity, especially due to its proximity to the Via Egnatia, the road that connected the two Roman Empires. You can still see a part of it in the village Radozhda and also near Vevchani. Life went on uninterrupted in the following centuries, and you can see the development and progress through the Christian heritage: from the early Christian basilicas in the villages of Oktisi and Radolishta with old floor mosaics, through the churches built in the Middle Ages and the icons more than 7 centuries old, among which is the miraculous icon of St. George in the church of the same name, all the way to the cave churches built secretly in times of the Turks. You will find them in the monastery complex Kalishta and near Radozhda. From the era of the Ottoman Empire, you can also visit the small hammam and the “Halveti Tekke”, a protected cultural monument.
Struga has another very important epithet. Struga is the “city of poetry” and host of the Struga Poetry Evenings – the world’s largest poetry event which, in honour of the great revivalists, the Miladinov brothers, gathers every year the most important poets from around the world and tourists who want to enjoy the modern poetic word.
As you walk through the beautiful city bazaar and the rich market or along the shores of the lake and the promenade of Drim, Struga brings its peace to you. At the same time, it invites you to try to enjoy its taste through local restaurants and patisseries, and to take it with you wherever you go, as a reminder of the place that will always draw you back.