Blue Pearl in the Midst of the Balkans
It's our bonus holiday episode!
Nestled in the mountains along the border of North Macedonia and Albania sits Lake Ohrid, a deep, blue lake as old as time. On its shores, in the town of Ohrid, Samuel, tsar of the First Bulgarian Empire, directed his kingdom's last hurrah against the mighty Roman Empire to his east. His opponent: Basil II, known now as the "Bulgar-Slayer." I guess you can figure out how this goes.
Eric Halsey of the Bulgarian History Podcast gives his thoughts on Samuel and his brothers and the epic confrontation with Basil, while Allison Greene from Sofia Adventures and Eternal Arrival shares her experience of visiting Ohrid, whose Byzantine-era churches charm and whose lakeside boardwalk invigorates.
And we talk about Macedonian food, including ajvar, a red pepper spread-slash-dip that pairs with everything.
Crapton, RJ. A Concise History of Bulgaria
Evans, Thammy. Macedonia: the Bradt Travel Guide
Herrin, Judith. Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire
Knowlton, Mary Lee. Macedonia
Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium: The Apogee
Michael Psellus. Chronographia
John Skylitzes. A Synopsis Of Byzantine History, translated by J. Wortley
Photograph by Silfiriel