The museum on water, otherwise known as Bay of Bones, is an archeological complex located at the excavation site of Ploca Micov Kamen, near Gradishte and Pestani along the Ohrid coast. An authentic reconstruction of the pile dwelling settlement, Bay of Bones is a very popular day trip and one of the most attractive destinations in Ohrid and Macedonia.
Dating back between 1200 and 700 BC, the original prehistoric settlement occupied 8500 square meters. The Ohrid Lake, quite shallow around this period, allowed for a massive wooden structure to be erected above the water, considered by many as one of the largest prehistoric palafittes.
Bay of Bones is a partial recreation of the settlement, giving locals and foreigners a unique chance to learn about life in prehistoric times. Enjoying the magnificent view and the unprecedented setting of this surreal archeological site, you will immerse yourself completely, losing track of everything else.
When was Bay of Bones officially open?
Before the elaborate reconstruction of the original settlement, there were series of excavations near the Pestani region, several kilometers away from Ohrid. The archeological investigation took place between 1997 and 2005, during which a large number of excavated remains were discovered.
The findings point out to a massive settlement, supported by 10,000 wooden piles, each anchored to the lake bed. Learned guesses put the settlement at the very end of the Bronze Age, and the beginning of the Iron Age, effectively making it over 3000 years old.
The reconstruction process was closely monitored by the director of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office, Pasko Kuzman, and the museum on water officially opened on the 8th of December, 2008. The opening ceremony was supported by many people from the government, as well as the former prime minister, Nikola Gruevski.
Placed on a hill above the museum, there is another reconstruction of a small Roman military fortification, designed to bond the continuum. It is also part of the Ploca Micov Kamen archeological investigation site, testifying for the geographical importance of this location.
The name Bay of Bones, although coined to sound attractive, is actually fairly accurate. The excavation site provided a number of findings, among which were plenty of animal remains, and fragmented but well preserved vessels.
These findings point out to a highly developed settlement. A small prehistoric town, neatly constructed above the water, connected to land only by a number of small, but sturdy bridges.
The Bay of bones museum you are seeing today, though an accurate rendition, is only a partial reconstruction of the massive prehistoric complex.
The Bay of Bones museum as an attractive tourist destination
The water museum is an important cultural and historical landmark of the Republic of Macedonia, and a truly unique large-scale underwater excavation on the European continent.
Combined with picturesque scenery and the crystal blue lake, the archeological complex is incredibly captivating. Placed along the Ohrid shore, on a fairly isolated and remote location, the museum is one of the most attractive places within this region.
The settlement counts 24 replicas of prehistoric houses, narrating the everyday life of prehistoric people living in community. Resting above the water, and looking towards the lush forest of Galicica, it very much reminds me of the movie set for the TV series Lost. On a cloudy weather, the setting looks rather similar to Oahu, Hawaii, and the marvelous north coast.
You will snap your camera left and right, capturing the beauty of the yellow settlement as it provides a nice contrast to the vast crystal blue lake. The pictures, regardless of your gear, will look surreal and amazing.
Scuba-diving near the Bay of Bones museum
The UNESCO protected Ohrid Lake, along with the Titicaca and Baikal, one in South America and the other in Russia, is among the oldest water formations worldwide.
Scuba divers, however, appreciate more the clarity of the water as well as the impressive depth. For anyone who is interested in underwater exploration, there are several landmarks throughout the lake. One is the sunken German boat from the Second World War, and the other is the Bay of Bones underwater archeological site.
The area has a maximum depth of twelve meters, and it is perhaps the easiest dive when you consider the challenging depth of the lake. The water is relatively warm during mid-summer, and with a nicely fitting wetsuit the experience is quite pleasant.
Considering the location of Bay of Bones – which is just off the shore – the dive doesn’t require any prior experience.
Once you reach the sand, the relics seem to be scattered all around. From necklaces and primitive tools, to broken animal bones, the area under the pile dwelling settlement is rich with excavation material.
Local diving guides are available for hire, and you should definitely check the professionals from Amfora. They can supply equipment and expert advice on how to have an unforgettable experience even if you are diving for the first time.
Useful information for visiting the Bay of Bones museum
As an open monument, the Bay of Bones museum can be visited throughout the entire year. The ticket office will open in the morning, and will be operating during business hours. The fees, like any other ticket in Macedonia, are ridiculously affordable (even more so for students and children).
- Price: 100 MKD for adults, 30 MKD for students and children
- Hours open: 09:00 am to 07:00 pm (July through August) 09:00 am to 04:00 pm (rest of the year) Closed on Monday (October through April)
- The ticket will cover the Roman military fortification as well
- Parking space on site
- Distance form Ohrid: 16km
- Buss ticket from Ohrid: 60 MKD (1 EUR)
- Taxi: 16 EUR, taking you to the monastery of St. Naum as well
Even if you are currently located in Skopje, and cannot afford the logistics of booking your accommodation in Ohrid even for the weekend, the Bay of Bones is not out of reach. The Skopje to Ohrid distance is 172 km, which usually takes about two and a half hours.
If you are already in Ohrid, reaching the museum on water is relatively easy. The road will take you towards the Saint Naum Monastery, going through all of the coastal villages such as Lagadin, Pestani and Trpejca. The Bay of Bones, however, is much closer on the road.
To orient yourself properly along the coast of Lake Ohrid, here is a map that puts everything in perspective.
Visiting the Bay of Bones plus other things to do in Ohrid
The beauty of Ohrid has to do a lot with the diversity of the region – from heavenly nature sites and cultural landmarks, to stunning architecture and a vast religious heritage. Whatever else might be said, Ohrid is a kaleidoscope run wild. It is a blend of places and experiences, through which you are discovering Macedonia in a unique and unforgettable way.
Having this in mind, you can leave this prehistoric settlement and look for the next tourist attraction right away.
Stepping of the bridge, you should continue towards the monastery of St. Naum. A magnificent complex with a captivating byzantine-style church, the monastery is unlike any other.
You can also visit the villages along the coast, enjoying the beaches and the wonderful Ohrid Lake. Seeing the museum on water, you will definitely want to dip your toes into the crystal blue lake, and we are recommending the village of Trpejca.
If you happen to visit the Monastery of Saint Naum, make sure to explore the springs as well. This site offers one of the most surreal settings you’ll ever come across. The colors blend perfectly, into a nature collage you’ll never forget.
Regardless of whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, or someone with a chief interest in culture, there are many things to do in Ohrid. You can enjoy the National Park of Galicica nearby, hiking the formidable yet alluring mountain terrain. You can also swim in the crystal blue water, or visit the historic town and the Samuil Fortress overlooking the harbor. The Robevi Family house is another attractive destination, and it is a monument to traditional architecture of the region. The magnificent churches nearby are a mandatory destination on your list. Consider Kaneo and Plaoshnik.
Ohrid blends nature with spirituality and culture like no other town does. And the Bay of Bones, of course, is uniting all of these aspects into a must visit attraction – you will travel to the past, while at the same time enjoying the surreal setting only the Ohrid coast can provide.