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Bitola

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The city with numerous testifying for Cosmopolitism ...

In the south-west part of Macedonia, at an altitude of 580 to 700m, in the south part of Pelagonija valley rests the town of Bitola, home to almost 78 000 people.

The Birth of Bitola:
The present day town was established in the 7th century by the Slav tribe Brsjaci, close to Herakleja Linkestis. The name Bitola is mentioned for the first time in the documents of Tsar Samoil in the 10th and 11th century. In 1382 Bitola was conquered by the Ottomans whereupon it became a strategic centre. In the 18th century the town had population of 12000 – 15000 people and in 1836, according to Ami Bue, there were 40000 people in the town. The merchants from Bitola traded with Venice, Vienna, Paris, London, Leipzig, etc. 2000 shops existed in the 19th century. In 1848 the old Turkish Barracks were built in which the Military Academy worked. One of its students is the father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal – Ataturk. Today the object is a Town Museum, in which a room is dedicated to Ataturk.

Its significance is clearly stated by the fact that, until the First Balkan War, 12 states had their consulates in Bitola: England, Austria, Russia, Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, France, America, etc.

From the time when Bitola was second town by size and significance (after Thessalonica) in the European part of the Ottoman Kingdom, a greater number of cultural and historical monuments have been preserved. Among them are 500 houses, which were built in the 19th and the 20th century. They consist of more architectural styles.

The culture in Bitola:
Among the other meaningful happenings, which Bitola can be proud of, is the first making of movies in 1905 by the brothers Manaki, Milton and Jovan. In their honor every year at the end of September, the Manaki Festival of Film and Camera is organized and in front of the “Dom na kultura” (Culture centre) a bronze statue of the Manaki brothers has been placed.

There are several cultural manifestations organized in Bitola. The one with the longest duration is the Bitola Simmer Festival. It includes variety of manifestations, such as musical and theatrical performances, opera, ballet, concerts, artistic exhibitions and literary achievements. It opens on the 1st of July and closes on the 10th of August.



Cultural and Historical Heritage:
In the town centre in 1508 the Isak – beg mosque was erected. It was a memorial for the Bitola cadi Isak Chelebi Ibni Asa, who was buried in the front yard of the mosque. It has got a square foundation and it is covered with a dome, big 26m in diameter. The minaret is 45m tall. The interior of the mosque is decorated with arabesque. Opposite the Isak-beg mosque is the Jeni (new) mosque, which in present is an art gallery. Close to the mosques is the Clock Tower, mentioned for the first time in 1664 and it is 30 meters tall.

The church St. Demetrius (Sv. Dimitrija) is apart about 100m from the Clock Tower. It was built from the presents given from merchants and craftsmen in 1830. The Ottomans had the approval to build a small structure. In order to acquire more area, the church was dug in the ground. It is a three-nave basilica with flat ceilings, 5 small chapels and a gallery. The interior of the church is adorned with a central iconostasis, manufactured in 1845. The two iconostases on the sides are parts of the iconostasis of the old church St. Demetrius from the 18th century.

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