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Macedonia's underwater world - discover with us the ancient lake...

Macedonia changed hands for years. In 148 BC it became a Roman province. It was here that the via Egnatia trade route ran. In the 6th to 7th century Slavs arrived here and in the 9th century the area became part of the Bulgarian state. Today it is a poor, small country, torn by numerous
Published: November 9, 2016 - 13:29
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 14:13
Macedonia’s underwater world – discover with us the ancient lake…

Macedonia changed hands for years. In 148 BC it became a Roman province. It was here that the via Egnatia trade route ran. In the 6th to 7th century Slavs arrived here and in the 9th century the area became part of the Bulgarian state. Today it is a poor, small country, torn by numerous wars, which regained independence only in 1991, but Greece still has claims to it and since 2005 has been blocking Macedonia’s entry into the EU. The rich, but still Slavic, history of the country means that we can communicate in Polish (broken Slovak-Russian), and the tasty food is a mixture of Greek, Turkish and Bulgarian cuisine.

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In search of …

We sit in a pub with a terrace on the water. Swans splash by our feet, peeking out in the hope of tourist leftovers, while soft blues drifts from the speakers in the background. I sip yellow rakija, which unfortunately I don’t like at all and it is very cold today, but the view of high mountains with small towns scattered around and the sun setting over the lake make up for everything. And that’s it – the lake. As befits racial divers, the most interesting landscape is the one whose main component is water.

Lake Ohrid – Museum of Living Fossils

We are stationed in Ohrid, which is said to have been inhabited for 7,000 years. The city has its own unique atmosphere, with narrow and winding streets, and old buildings with Turkish-style overhanging floors. Here you can get lost with pleasure, visiting the Orthodox churches and admiring the views with bated breath. However, this town is famous not for its views, but for the large and deep lake for which we have come here. Its age is estimated at between 4 and 10 million years. Endemic creatures live in it, virtually unchanged since the Tertiary. The lake is the oldest in Europe and next to Baikal, Titicaca, Victoria and Malawi it is one of the oldest in the world. It is also called a “museum of living fossils”.

From the shells of the clam Sedefna schooner and the scales (or bones) of the smallest and oldest endemic platy fish living in the lake, a paste is made which, when applied to the beads, imitates mother-of-pearl. Exactly how the famous ochre pearls are produced is not known, as it has been kept secret for generations, but the fact is that any non-diving partner will appreciate such an original (and inexpensive) gift.

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Diving

The lake is situated not much lower than Zakopane, at 693 m above sea level. As it is in a deep lake, the water is not the warmest, so it is best to dive in a dry suit. The thermocline was present from about 24 metres depth.

Practical information:

  • Visibility to 20 m
  • maximum depth 280 m,
  • the lake is 15 km wide and 31 km long, with 1/3 of it belonging to Albania
  • diving base has a comfortable rib (takes up to 12 people at a time with equipment in full comfort) and is located about 15 km from the city – it can be reached by taxi for 500 mkd (about 40 PLN)

The aforementioned diving base is located at Zaliv na Koskite (Bay of Bones), where a Bronze Age surface settlement dating from 1200-700 BC was found. The settlement has been reconstructed as part of the museum. You can dive on the archaeological site and between the piles of the reconstruction, while admiring the original piles, still well preserved. We can find here literally a sea of pottery: vices, spouts and bottoms, elements of amphorae and pitos, spinners, flints or querns – diving here, despite only 4 m depth, can be recommended to everyone.

Some interesting facts after the dive

The small town offers plenty of places to visit, including pleasant pubs with affordable prices. Macedonia is the cradle of Slavic Christianity and has only 26,000km2 – the size of Lublin Voivodeship. The population according to the 2015 census is 2 million, which in turn can be compared to the population of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship. Ohrid became the first capital of the Macedonian state in 969, thanks to Tsar Samuel. It is said that it was here that two missionaries Kliement and Naum founded monasteries and schools to teach a new alphabet – Cyrillic, which replaced the difficult Glagolitic created by Cyril. Interestingly, the official form of Macedonian language was not established until the 1940s and the spelling rules in 1945.

Photo: Bartłomiej Kujda

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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