Bitola (Битола)


Bitola - a city in the southwestern part of Macedonia and seat of the eponymous Municipality of Bitola, administrative, cultural, economic, industrial, educational and scientific center for that part of the country. The city is known as the city of consuls, because it was home to the consular offices of European countries during the Ottoman Empire, where together with Thessaloniki it was the most important place in the European part of the Empire. In the period 1864 - 1912, Bitola was the capital of the Bitola vilayet, one of the three vilayets in the region of Macedonia. Even today, many of the consular offices in the Republic of Macedonia are located here. Bitola is the second largest city in Macedonia in terms of population (2002). To the north of Bitola is the capital of Macedonia, Skopje (169 km), to the northeast is the city of Prilep (43 km), to the south is the city of Florina (Greece) (33 km) and to the northwest are Resen (29 km) ) and Demir Hisar (29 km). During Yugoslavia it was one of the cultural centers, both in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and in SFRY. The father of the Turkish nation Kemal Ataturk graduated from an officer school in Bitola. Some of his works are now kept in the National Museum.


Origin of the term
Throughout history, depending on the rulers, the city of Bitola had many names. According to Adrian Rum, the Slavic name for the city, Bitola, comes from the word Obitel (Old Slavic Obitelj), this term is still used today in (Croatian, Obitelj) which during the Middle Ages was used for a community of monks, as a family, ie a monastery. It got its name from the many monasteries that were located in and around the city, and some still exist today. Over time, the sound O is dropped in the pronunciation of the word "Family", and the name of the city becomes Bitola. The Greeks for the same reasons called the city Monastiri (Greek: Μοναστήρι). Bitola is today's official name for the city, but also the oldest name, judging by the Bitola plaque from 1015 on which the city is mentioned, as well as according to many military leaders of Tsar Samuel, as well as travelers of that time. The Arab traveler Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Idrisi wrote in the 12th century: "It takes two days to travel east to get from Ohrid (Ohrid) to Butili (Bitola). "Butili is an unusual and beautiful city."

There are stories according to which on the right quay of the river Dragor there were 41 churches and the same number of mills for their maintenance. Also on the left quay of Dragor there were 29 churches with the same number of mills. During the holidays at that time, the people from the villages of Bitola Field gathered at these churches where they performed their religious rites. Considering that the land on which the city of Bitola was located at that time was covered with numerous churches, the city got the name Monastery. There is a version that says that the city of Bitola was named Manastir after a huge church that was located above Bitola, near the current bridge called Crn Most (Turkish: kara köprüsü). This church could accommodate all those present from the village population from the Bitola field who came during the holidays to perform religious rites.

According to the records of Marko Cepenkov, the city of Bitola was named after the great owner Toljo, who had his fortress near the present-day Bitola village of Bukovo. At the time when the Turks came to conquer this part of Macedonia, to call the great owner Toljo to fight, they said "Bi Toljo, do bi Toljo", which according to Marko Cepenkov hence the name of the city of Bitola.

During the Ottoman rule, the city was called Manastir, which was adopted by the Turks and Albanians from the Greeks. After the Balkan Wars of 1913, the city fell under Serbian occupation and was renamed Bitola.

Many important events in Macedonian and Balkan history took place in Bitola. The city has been built, rebuilt, demolished and rebuilt and upgraded since its first settlement in the Late Bronze Age. Then in the Hellenistic period, until the Roman Empire, until the Byzantine era had the status of a city with a high degree of civilization.

The traditionally strong shopping center is also known as the city of consuls because in one period during the Ottoman Empire, Bitola had as many as twenty consulates from various European countries. At the same time, the city had many schools, including a military academy, which was attended by the famous Turkish reformer Kemal Ataturk. At the end of the 19th century it was such a strong city that its population was constantly growing and exceeding the population of Belgrade. The city was full of factories and photo shops, and it is interesting that besides Singer, there was a candy factory in Bitola at that time. The first photographs and films in the Balkans were shot in Bitola, thanks to the Manaki brothers. Janaki buys the first film camera from London, produced by the company "Charles Urban Trading", the 300th copy of the BIOSCOPE series. Thus, with that famous "Camera 300", the cinematography of the Balkans began. It was the golden age of the city. Unfortunately, during the Balkan Wars, many battles were fought around the city and the city itself, so much material evidence burned or was completely The architecture could be rebuilt, especially in the last fifteen years, and the evidence for everything that has happened is the retelling of the old ones that are well remembered, but today there are many organizations and festivals that, after a long time, are held again. They are held every year from July 29 to August 2 in Bitola, in memory of the Ilinden Uprising, under the name "Cultural Festival Ilinden Days".


The city of Bitola with its surroundings is very rich in monuments from the prehistoric period. The two most important are Velushka Tumba and Tumba Bara, which are located near the village of Porodin. From the Copper Age, Tumba settles here near the village of Crnobuki, Suplevac (near the village of Suvodol) and Visok Rid (near the village of Bukri).

Roman period
The city is located on the Roman road Via Ignatia, where the ancient city of Heraclea Lyncestis is located. In the period of the II century BC. When Macedonia became a Roman province, Heraclea became a strong economic and political center (Septina Aurelia Heraclea) with its permanent Roman viceroy and Roman army, which testifies to Bitola as a center of eternal power, civilization, culture and beauty that is here today.

Ottoman rule
The beginning of the Turkish wars in the Balkans announced a new era of living. The Turkish armies during 1382-1383 after very hard and bloody battles and after the fierce resistance offered by the local population finally managed to conquer Bitola. According to some legends, the monks of the seventy monasteries and churches that existed in Bitola at that time also offered fierce resistance to the Turkish conquerors. Hadzi Evronos Bey, who was at the head of the Turkish army, revolted by the fierce resistance he encountered during the conquest of the city, ordered the demolition of the Bitola fortress. Ashik-pasha Zede, who accompanied Euronos-bey in his campaign, noted in his reports that the Turkish armies had attacked Bitola several times, and the monks, giving great resistance, at the very end of the river Dragor, were all massacred. However, the Turks completely captured the city only after the death of King Marko in 1395, and during the occupation of Bitola I first entered Timurtash-pasha with his army.

From this period, in fact, begins the "oriental" shaping of the city, which was the result of the construction of this type of buildings, but also of the oriental construction techniques and styles. In the period of the XVI - XVII century, a period of historical and cultural changes, the Turkish administration began to name the city of Bitola as Manastir or Toli Manastir. However, in the whole period of its existence, the name Bitola was never forgotten, but on the contrary, it was in daily use by the Christian population.

In the middle of the 17th century it became an important cultural center of European Turkey. It is the seat of the Bitola district in which there were 150 settlements. The city was famous for its numerous markets, the most famous of which was the cotton market. The famous travel writer Evliya Çelebi visited Bitola in 1662 and noted: with iron gates and 86 shops. "There were 70 Muslim temples, nine madrassas, several Christian churches and public buildings in the city." The city itself, seen from afar, seemed to be immersed in greenery. In this period Bitola is one of the most important religious-Muslim centers, a High Religious Law School, which existed throughout the XVII century. In the same century. the city has grown into an important administrative, economic and cultural center. When Skopje was burnt down in 1689 due to cholera, Bitola took over most of its important functions. It developed trade, mainly with European centers, Vienna, Paris, London, etc.

The most important period of the historical and economic development of Bitola is the XIX century, when the headquarters of the Rumelia vilayet was moved to Bitola, and as such, it is ranked as the first city in the European part of Turkey. According to a document from this period, it is said that there were 1,380 shops in Bitola, most of which were handicraft.

In 1805 in Bitola lived about 15,000 inhabitants. Crafts have made significant progress in the industries. In the middle of the XIX century the number of craft shops reached over 2,000 with about 140 types of crafts, organized in 70 guild organizations. The diplomatic missions, consulates of several foreign countries also made a significant contribution to the development of Bitola. That led Bitola to become a "city of consuls" but also an arena of foreign propaganda.

In Bitola at the end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX century there were about 3000 pianos for which the city was called the "City of Pianos". Due to some former understandings, the piano symbolized wealth, class division, and in the 1950s, with the nationalization process, many families lost their pianos.


In the school year 1899/1900 in the Bitola Boys' High School, one of the founders of VMRO, Dame Gruev, was employed as a teacher, who was in charge of teaching geography, arithmetic, geometry and drawing.

According to the statistics of Vasil K'nchov ("Macedonia. Ethnography and Statistics") from 1900, Bitola had a population of 37,000, of which 10,000 Macedonians, 10,500 Turks, 1,500 Albanian Muslims, 2,000 Roma, 7,000 Vlachs, 5,500 Jews and about 500 others.

The Christian inhabitants of the city were divided into several denominations. According to the statistics of the Exarchate Secretary Dimitar Mishev ("La Macedoine et sa Population Chrétienne") in 1905 the Christian population of Bitola consisted of 15,252 Macedonians, of which 8,844 exarchs, 6,300 Greek patriarchs, 72 Serbian patriarchs, then 100 G patriarchs, 36 7,200 Vlachs, 120 Albanians and 120 Roma. There were 10 primary and 3 secondary Bulgarian schools in the city, 7 primary and 2 secondary Greek, 2 primary and 2 secondary Vlach and 1 primary and 2 secondary Serbian.

Bitola due to its location, at the crossroads between all the most important roads (east, west, north and south), from the earliest period of Turkish rule gained the deserved importance and became an important military-strategic center that was only confirmed in 1830 when it it also became the political center of the Rumelia vilayet. After the disintegration of the timaro-spahi system and the intensified harassment by the landlords, there were new changes in the ethnic structure of the population in Bitola. In 1864, the Bitola vilayet was established with its seat in Bitola. The head of the vilayet was a vali, with the title of pasha, who was appointed by the sultan irade. The vilayet covered an area of ​​about 32,000 km2, extending to parts of today's countries: Macedonia, Albania and Greece.

Balkan wars
During the First Balkan War, the Battle of Bitola was fought in the vicinity of the city, in which the Ottoman army was defeated by Serbian forces. The city suffered during World War I due to its proximity to the Thessaloniki front.

In the period between the two world wars, Bitola became a border town. It lost its gravitational pull towards Greece and Albania. However, during this period, the city for the first time began to be built according to urban plans

world War Two
Bitola was the first city in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia to experience World War II, as it was bombed by Italian aircraft on November 5, 1940.

During World War II, the city was first occupied by the Germans and later by the Bulgarians. In September 1944, Bulgaria capitulated and began to withdraw from Yugoslavia and Bitola was liberated from the Macedonian partisans. On November 4, 1944, the Seventh Macedonian Brigade entered Bitola victoriously. On February 6, 1945, the first high school was opened in Bitola (originally called "Goce Delchev", in 1952 renamed "Josip Broz Tito") where it was taught in Macedonian.

During the National Liberation War, 606 people were detained in the city and the surrounding area, 117 were interned, 4 were deported and 8 were taken captive. 251 people were sentenced, of which 23 to death. 266 people died on the battlefields of Yugoslavia. 106 people from Bitola and the surrounding area were bearers of the Partisan Monument 1941 and 8 were declared national heroes.

The Jews in Bitola
Bitola was inhabited by Jews who fled Spain during the Inquisition of Queen Isabella of Castile. These Jews settled in most of the Balkans in cities of greater importance and with developed trade, including in Bitola. Here they helped the development of the city with good trade relations. On March 11, 1943, the entire Jewish population of Bitola (3,011 Jews) was deported to the Treblinka camp in Poland by Bulgarian fascists.

The city is located at the northeastern foot of Mount Baba and the southeastern foot of Oblakovska Mountain, in the central part of the Pelagonija Valley. The river Dragor flows through it. It is located 14 km north of the border with Greece, at an altitude of 576 m. Bitola is traditionally an important trade and passenger connection between the Adriatic and the Aegean Sea, as well as one of the most important passenger connections in the Balkans with Central Europe. Bitola is 168 km south of Skopje, 42 km southwest of Prilep, 32 km east of Resen, 33 km north of Florina (Greece) and 28 km southeast of Demir Hisar. It is located 200 km northwest of the Aegean Sea.


Air conditioning
The city has an average annual air temperature of 11.1 ° C, but with large deviations in certain years: from 10.1 ° C in 1975 to 13.1 ° C in 1952. The coldest month is January, with an average monthly temperature of -0.6 ° C, but with an absolute minimum temperature of -30.4 ° C. The warmest month is July, with an average monthly temperature of 22.2 ° C and an absolute maximum temperature of 41.2 ° C. The absolute annual variation of air temperature is 71.6 ° C, which is specific to the continental climate.

The temperature is characteristic of a continental climate, and the precipitation is a dry modified Mediterranean or steppe climate which, at times, has breakthroughs of hot air masses from North Africa, ie. Sahara. The average annual rainfall is 601 mm, with values ​​ranging from 338 mm to 879 mm.

Bitola is also an example with the appearance of aurora borealis. The isohazm passes through Bitola (a line that connects places with an equal number of days with the appearance of aurora borealis) 0,1 which means that in the sky of Bitola on average only once in 10 years, aurora borealis appears.

There is also a meteorological station in Bitola, located at the exit of the city on the road to Novaci. It started operating on March 16, 1945, although there are systematic data for certain meteorological elements from 1926 and 1927. The meteorological station in the city is located at an altitude of 586 m, close to the average altitude of the city which is 576 m.

Famous places
Wide street
Shirok Sokak (the official name of the street is "Marshal Tito", also known as the "Bitola promenade") is the busiest street in Bitola. It was originally intended for cars, but today it is exclusively a pedestrian street and the true heart of the city. Shirok Sokak has the largest shops, restaurants, opera house, galleries and many other cafes and clubs. Here are the oldest architectural works and buildings in the Balkans, which have adorned the city since Turkish times. Typical Turkish houses, in addition to beautiful villas, are not uncommon in this part of town. At the very end of Shirok Sokak you enter a spacious flower park full of rows of trees, which leads to the zoo and the ancient site of Heraclea Lyncestis.

Heraclea Lyncestis
Heraclea Lyncestis (Latin: Heraclea Lyncestis) is an ancient city from the Roman period, located near the city itself, at the foot of Baba Planina and dates from the middle of the IV century BC. It was founded by the Macedonian King Philip II. The city was developed as a military-strategic center on the northwestern border of the then Macedonian area of ​​Linkestida (today Bitola Field).

Historic buildings
Clock tower
It is not known exactly when the clock tower was built. Written sources from the 16th century mention the clock tower, but it has not been determined with certainty whether it is the same building. Many believe that it was built at the same time as the church of St. Dimitrija Solunski, more precisely 1830. According to legend, the tower was built when the Ottoman authorities in the city, ie the Turks, passed through all the surrounding villages and collected about 60,000 eggs from which they made mortar. From the mixture mixed with stones, they built the tower whose solid walls still stand today.

The tower has a square base and is about 30 meters high. At the top of the tower are terraces with wrought iron fences. On all sides of the terraces there are structures that hold lamps with the help of which the whole tower and its clock are visible at night. The clock is at the top of the three levels. The original clock was replaced during World War II with a newer and much more accurate and modern clock. The new watch was bought by the Nazis in gratitude to citizens for the German cemetery they erected for the victims of the Bitola conflict, along with the English and French cemeteries during the First World War.

The clock tower for many is a symbol of the city of Bitola. The tower is located in the park where young people constantly gather, enjoying the city center, in addition to the guitar sounds that are common. It is also a place where citizens wait for Christmas during Christmas Eve and light candles for health, along the lawn and sidewalk of the park where the tower is.

Ajdar-kadi mosque
The Ajdar-kadi mosque (Turkish court) is one of the most attractive monuments of Islamic architecture in Bitola. It was built in the period from 1561 to 1562, as a project of the famous architect Mimar Sinan. The mosque was ordered by the Bitola kadija Ajdar-kadi, after which the mosque got its name. Over time, the mosque was severely damaged, but today it has been completely restored and has approximately its original appearance.


Yeni Mosque
The name in Turkish means New Mosque. It is located in the center of the city. It has a square base, with a dome at the top. There is a minaret 40 meters high near the mosque. Today, the rooms of the mosque are used for exhibitions. Recent archeological excavations have revealed that it was built on an old church. According to the poet Laeli, the mosque was built in 973 AH or 1565. But according to the calculation of M. Tefik and K. Tomovski, the exact year is 966 AH or 1558-59, while according to the latest calculation (Ebjed Hesap) of E. Ayverdi and M. Asimov, the exact year of construction is 961 AH or 1553-54.

Isaac Mosque
It was built in 1506, by the famous kadi Isak Celebi. There are several tombs in her large courtyard, attractive because of the fine shapes of the sarcophagi. It is located opposite the Clock Tower and the Bezisten. This mosque has a minaret about 50 meters high, due to which the mosque simply dominates the space.

Bezisten is mentioned in a description of the city from the 16th and 17th centuries. The current bezisten does not differ much from the appearance of the then. Bezisten has 86 shops and 4 large iron gates. The shops used to sell textiles, and today the shops have different economic activities, some of which are offices.

Deboy Bath
Deboy is a Turkish bath - hammam. It is not known when it was built. It is badly damaged, but after repairs it now has the old look of two large domes and several small and striking facades.

Archaeological sites
Heraclea Lyncestis - a settlement from the Hellenistic, Roman, Late Antiquity and Middle Ages;
Almond Ballerina - a coin depot from the Middle Ages;
Gurgur Tumba - a settlement from the Neolithic period;
Jewish Cemetery - a settlement from the Neolithic period;
Kale - a settlement from the Middle Ages;
St. Trinity - basilica from early Christian times;