StrugaStruga (Macedonian: Струга, Albanian: Strugë) is a city in Western North Macedonia on Lake Ohrid. Nicknamed the "City of Poetry", it is known for its annual international poetry festival. Unlike larger and more popular Ohrid, Struga has flatter geography and is more ethnically diverse. Nonetheless, it contains a fair amount of places of interest both within the city and the outlying villages.
Unlike Ohrid which is situated on hills, Struga is flat, spread around Drim river. It is a great place to relax with a cup of coffee by the river.
While the city of Struga has a majority ethnic Macedonian population, Struga Municipality as a whole with its 50 surrounding villages is home to an Albanian majority.
HistoryIn ancient time the city was known as Enchalon, which means eel (fishing eels in Drim river was very popular in Struga up until recently). The Via Egnatia road that connected Rome with Thesaloniki and Constantinople passed through Struga. The name Struga was used for the first time in a document in the 11th c, but it originates from the 7th c. The Byzantine travel writer Ana Komnina visited Struga in the 11th century and named it “City of 100 bridges”.
While the nearby Ohrid was always cultural and religious centre, Struga played the role of trading centre of the region. It still does and a visit on market day can be fun.
In the 19th century Struga played important part in the national revival as it was home town of Konstantin and Dimitar Miladinovi, brothers who collected and published a collection of folk songs (named "Folk songs from Macedonia") in 1862. Konstantin Miladinov wrote Sorrow for the south (also translated as 'Longing for the South') during his studies in Saint Petersburg. Today, in his honour, the biggest poetry festivals in the world is held in Struga every year.
- The river Drim, which enters Ohrid lake in the St. Naum monastery, comes out in Struga after going through the whole lake.
- Before the Drim had been blocked by several dams downstream of Struga, Lake Ohrid was home to a large population of eels. The annual run of the eels, when they left the lake en masse every fall, to spawn in the Atlantic Ocean, was a major event in Struga, where weirs were constructed to catch the fish. The towns' eel lore is celebrated in Luan Starova's novel The Path of Eels ("Патот на јагулите").
- Vlado Maleski, a poet from Struga wrote the Macedonian national anthem "Denes nad Makedonija se raga". It was sung for the first time in Struga.
- The Vasilica carnival in Vevčani village has been held on 14th & 15th of January for over 1500 years.
By busThere are direct buses from Skopje and other cities in Macedonia to Struga. Also there are buses to Tirana, Albania.
Long distance bus stationphone: +389 46-782770
Minibus stopGathering point for minibuses going to Ohrid (E 15km). Buses leave once every 20-40 minutes and cost 100 denars. There are also shared taxis to Ohrid, which cost 100 denars per person as well.
Bus companies' officesphone: +389 46 787 467address: Partizanska 15 bbA few kiosks selling tickets to various destinations. One of them, Euro linia, operates buses to/from Vlore in Albania (passing Elbasan, Tirana €13, Durres), and departs from Struga at 05:00 and 06:00. Coaches to Skopje (via Tetovo) leave at 05:00, 08:00, 10:00, 17:00. Bus connection with Germany.
Struga is small and easiest to get around is by walking. To visit the cave churches on the west coast of Ohrid lake take a taxi or check out the bus schedule. A 15 minutes walk along the lake will take you to Kalishta village and cave monastery.
Old Bazaaraddress: Marshal Tito Stis a straight street, and today has more cafes than shops. It ends with a lively market.
St. George Churchaddress: Marshal Tito StThis is a good example of revival period architecture built in 1835. The church is most famous for the St.George Icon painted in 1267, and considered miraculous as it was found in the lake. The only part of the city which has managed to preserve couple of old houses and atmosphere is along Goce Delcev Street left of the old bazaar. It starts with a lovely small stone house which once was a residence of church officials (notice the small altar of the chapel that once was in the house).
Traditional housesthere are couple of traditional houses preserved, including the so-called island house as it stands alone in the middle of a small square.
Halveti Teke- is one of the most representative examples of Ottoman architecture in Struga and it is protected by the Macedonian Cultural Memorial Institute. The tekke (Muslim monastery) was established by Hasan Baba (Asan Dede) in the beginning of the 18th century and consists of five rooms in the shape of the letter T.
Miladinovci Houseinteresting examples of traditional architecture. The brothers were born and lived in this building, and today it serves as a museum dedicated to them.
Vangel Kodzoman Galleryone of the most famous Macedonian painters of the 20th c. Checking out his paintings will show you Struga which unfortunately does not exist any more.
phone: +389 46 786 664address: Niko Nestor StreetThe museum was founded in 1928 by Nikola Nezlobinski, a Russian doctor who lived and worked in Struga after the October Revolution, and who was the prototype of one of the main characters of Starova's "Path of the Eels".
Museum of Livadhia
Kališta MonasteryThis scenic lakeside monastery offers much to explore. It is home to multiple churches, including two medieval cave churches. The Church of the Virgin Mary is the oldest and contains significant fresco work. The Church of Saint Athanasius, built into a rock outside the main monastery complex, is from the late 14th century. It also features interesting frescoes. The main church of the monastery was built in the 18th century, though most of its present appearance dates from 1977. It contains a unique icon found at the cave Church of the Virgin Mary that depicts the Holy Mother with baby Jesus in black. Under the small Church of Saint Peter flow waters purported to have healing powers. Just outside of the complex at its main entrance is the popular Hotel Biser and a beach.
Radozda village and St. Mihail cave churchA 14th century cave church built in the natural caves and decorated with frescoes.
Gorna Belica villagePicturesque mountain village 1,600 m above sea level on Jablanica Mountain. Settled by Vlachs (Aromanians) around 1730, the village in the present-day has few year-round residents. Nonetheless, many people maintain weekend homes in Gorna Belica. The village has a mountain lodge with capacity for 30 people. East of the village is a monastery church dedicated to Saint Clement of Ohrid. It is an old monastery but most of it was destroyed in World War II; eight icons and the cross survived. The church and its bell tower have been rebuilt.
Church of Saint Athanasiusaddress: village of VišniVišni is an old village situation on the border with Albania. It is home to multiple churches and its main one was built in the 19th century, dedicated to Saint Athanasius. It was built of stone and features a dark wooden cupola. The village cemetery is situated in the church's courtyard. Just outside the village are natural springs worth a visit.
Church of the Ascension of Christaddress: village of VišniThis is a significant cave church just outside Višni, along a river canyon. It requires a decent uphill hike through woods and rocks but the pathway features railing for security. The date of construction isn't known but it is several centuries old; the frescoes date from the 14th century based on characteristics of the painting style. Unfortunately, due to high levels of moisture at this location, the frescoes are not well-preserved.
Church of the Introduction of the Virgin Maryaddress: village of VraništeIn this large village sits a church dating from the 10th or 11th century. It is a small building built of stone but it features some interesting architectural features. It is surrounded by graves.
Church of Saint Nicholasaddress: village of VraništeThis main church of Vranište was built prior to the 19th century with funds donated by an Ottoman official. The church features a dominant bell tower. In 2014, a museum was opened within the church complex that houses archaeological pieces, medieval icons, and more.
Church of the Assumptionaddress: village of ZbaždiThe main church of this mountainside village is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It was built in the 19th century of stone. It has a detached bell tower and the village cemetery sits above it.
Jablanica villageSituated on the mountain of the same name, Jablanica is a picturesque village populated by ethnic Macedonians of the Orthodox and Islamic faiths. The village has several churches including Saint Elijah, built in 1886, and the Introduction of the Virgin Mary, the main church.
- Vevčani, 14 km northwest of Struga, is an independent village known for its ancient carnival and natural scenery.
Labuništa lakesaddress: village of LabuništaAbove the village of Labuništa on Jablanica Mountain are two small glacial lakes. Despite being small, they are set in beautiful mountain scenery. One is the upper lake and the other is the lower lake. Labuništa itself is a large village populated by Macedonian Muslims.
Struga Poetry EveningsThe international poetry festival held in the summer (usually, in the second half of August) every year since 1966. There are two rewards given, one for lifetime achievement, and one for a young poet (if you have just published your first book of poetry, send it to UNESCO as they decide who gets this award). There has been a wide number of notable recipients over the years.
Guided hikes by Mountaineering Club StrugaThey often organize hiking tours in region. They usually charge a small amount for transportation and 2-4 € for participation.
Klimeticaphone: +389 755-178
T'ga Za Jugphone: +389 46 788741
Dardaniaphone: +389 46 785088
Sv.Nikolaphone: +389 70 362720address: Goce Delcev 88Macedonian national restaurant where you can find the most amazing national food. The location of this restaurant is very good, next to the river Drim, where you can enjoy food and relaxing music.
phone: +38946787290address: Vlado Malevski, 6330 Ustrugha, Struga, Republic of North Macedonia
phone: +389 46 788 200
Same as in Ohrid, accommodation is easy in Struga as many people rent rooms starting from €15 per person per night. Here is a list of some hotels in Struga:
phone: +389 46 782611address: Kej Boris Kidric 51This is a four star hotel that is perfectly matching with the old architecture of this town and the old bazaar around it. It is on the bank of the Drim River. There are 50 rooms inside, a few restaurants, a night club, a casino, an automatic bowling room, indoor and outdoor pools, a congress center, and a tennis court.
phone: +389 46 784-136address: Marshal Tito RoadThis new hotel is one of the finest in Struga. It is located within 5 minutes walk from the town center and the town market. The hotel disposes to its guests 31 rooms (single, double and triple), equipped with everything necessary to make your stay complete, a restaurant and a summer terrace-garden.
phone: +389 46 780 330address: Dimce Kovaceski 20New family-run hotel on a great location.
phone: +389 71 390 809address: Marsal Tito bbDecent, big (60m2) apartments. Good location. Fantastic owners. Wi-Fi. 2 big shops right underneath the building. Fully equipped kitchen. Long term rent is also possible. There is no lake view from apartments and bedroom lacks sunlight.