In September 2018, CyArk documented St. Sophia Church on the shores of Lake Ohrid in the Republic of North Macedonia. Several months prior, CyArk was contacted by an architect from the city of Ohrid who requested assistance documenting some of the monuments in the historic old town, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. CyArk began discussions with the Ministry of Culture and decided to complete work on St. Sophia Church in advance of an upcoming conservation program. CyArk documented the exterior of the church with additional high resolution capture focusing on the frescoes located on the interior. In addition to the documentation work, CyArk staff also provided a workshop to the Ministry of Culture of Macedonia as well as local architects from Ohrid.
Introducing the Church of St. Sophia
From the foundation’s mortar to the heavy roof, St. Sophia Church illuminates centuries of an area ruled by Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires, reflecting the diversity of religious life that people have cultivated in the area for over 1,000 years. Built on the foundations of a 5th century Roman church, rulers have continually destroyed and rebuilt the structure, reusing materials from previous buildings. Byzantine influence covers the walls of the church, displayed in a muted array of fresco paintings. When the Ottoman empire moved into the region in the 15th century, they converted the building into a mosque, plastering over the frescos and constructing minarets on the north chapel. Remnants of the Byzantine empire can also be found in the pavement, which was modified using rubble from the preexisting structure. The building’s reuse of old materials reflect centuries of different empires influencing life on the shores of Lake Ohrid.
Lake Ohrid in the North Republic of Macedonia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (2018) by CyArkCyArk
60 Seconds on Site: Church of St. Sophia, Republic of North Macedonia (2018) by CyArkCyArk
View of Lake Ohrid's historic district
The Frescoes of St. Sophia Church
The paintings covering the walls of St. Sophia Church document four centuries of achievement in Byzantine art. The earliest frescoes covering the walls encapsulate the period before the separation of Christian churches into the east and west. Commissioned by Ohrid Archbishop Leo, the paintings reflect his Eastern Orthodox beliefs tied to religious leaders in Constantinople. Paintings of St. Cyril of Salonika and St. Clement of Ohrid are the earliest images of these saints in Byzantine art still preserved today. Later paintings from the middle of the 14th century depict the Legend of Joseph from the Old Testament, displaying one of the most extensive depictions of this scene painted during the middle ages.
Drawing of St. Sophia Church in Ohrid (2018) by CyArkCyArk
CyArk produced a variety of orthographic images of the church's frescoes to be used in ongoing site management.
Open Heritage 3D by CyArkCyArk
Data from this project is now freely available through Open Heritage 3D.
Download the data from this project.
About Open Heritage 3D
The mission of the Open Heritage 3D project is to:
● Provide open access to 3D cultural heritage datasets for education, research and other
● Minimize the technical, financial and legal barriers for publishers of 3D heritage data.
● Promote discovery and re-use of datasets through standardized metadata and data formats.
● Foster community collaboration and knowledge sharing in the 3D cultural heritage community.
● Share best practices and methodologies for the capture, processing and storage of 3D cultural heritage data
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This project was made possible through a partnership with Ministry of Culture of the Republic of North Macedonia