A city in the southwestern part of the Republic of Macedonia BITOLA is a cultural, industrial, commercial and educational center. It is also known as "the city of the Consuls" since many European countries have consulates in Bitola.
Bitola has many historical buildings. The most notable are the Clock Tower, St. Dimitrija Church, Jeni Mosque, Ajdar-Kadi Mosque, Ishak Mosque, the Old Bazaar (Stara Carsija) and the Deboj Bath. Also about 2 km from Bitola town center is the Archeological site Heraclea.
Bitola was also the site of the first segment of this year's Euromeet2011. Many came from far and wide to attend our annual meet.
Favorite thing: The main street of Bitola SHIROK SOKAK stretches from the Clock Tower all the way to the City Park. The street, for Pedestrians only, is lined with colorful and neo-classical buildings and many cafe's and terraces. Shirok Sokak is especially lively in the evening. I have never seen so many people packed into one small area. Also the young people love to parade up and down the street, dressed to the nines - to see and be seen that's for sure.
The present CLOCK TOWER or SAAT KULA, was built in the 1830's. The entrance is on the north side of the tower. Approximately one hundred stairs lead to the Clock. At its peak the tower is about 32 meters high. The first clock face was white, with black numbers and hands and it was smaller than the present one. This clock mechanism was changed in 1936, when 15 new bells were installed there.
The Clock Tower is featured on the cover of many Bitola tourist information books and is a symbol of Bitola.
Fondest memory: Bitola is also the city where the footage was shot for the TV series “Farewell Rumeli”, which captured the imagination of Turkish TV audiences. One of the most important filming sets was the village of Makovo near Bitola. The TV series has resulted in special tours being arranged from Turkey to Macedonia, especially Bitola the primary shooting location.
Built in 1558/1559 with a minaret that is about 39 meters high, THE JENI MOSQUE is located in the center of the city near the fountains and near the Clock Tower. The Mosque is currently an art gallery.
What is most special about this mosque are the decorations of the interior, called fajans - especially the ones on the frontal gate.
The DENAR or plural DENARI is the currency of the Republic of Macedonia.
1, 2, 5 and 10 denari
10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000 5,000 and 10,000 denari
CONVERSION RATES - as of June 8, 2011
1 MKD = .02411 USD
For example 100 MKD equals $2.36 Canadian Dollars
Shown in my pic:
I liked everything about Bitola, especially the people. Anyway, I'm writing this because I've just discovered the official Bitola municipal tourist info site, which looks pretty up to date and full of useful information. It's http://bitolatourist.info/
Fondest memory: Civilisation at last - hope to be back next year.
Behind the bars (so to speak) another thing than enamoured me to the city was the profusion of local artists. There always seemed to be youngsters wielding paintbrushes around the city during my wanderings. As well as the two main galleries (the Yeni Mosque and the Magaza) there are several small commercial galleries dotted around, as well as artists supplies shops, such as the couple pictured below.
The city even has a sort of twinning thing with Paris's Montmartre artists square with its mini-Montmartre in the Old Bazaar - although during my visit this was in the process of being repaved, which was almost a work of art in progress in its own right.
Then on one of my wanderings I came across the customised car (pic #5) parked on a side street. This was otherwise just an ordinary car, its functionality demonstrated by the well-used roof rack and tow bar, but the painting of the Indian girl and the wolves on the boot is absolutely stunningly rendered.
Favorite thing: It's hard to make a choice between sitting in a cafe and visiting Heraclea as my favorite thing about Bitola. But I'll choose Heraclea as you can tour antiquity AND sit at a small table under a grape arbor with a cool drink:)
Bitola's Shirok Sokak (literally the "Wide Alley" and formally known as ul Marshal Tito) is the city's main street forming the backbone of what the local tourist board promotes as "The Golden Line". This pedestrianised street is where it all happens. At the top end you'll find the twin mosques and the clock tower, at the bottom the former military barrcks, now the city musuem, whilst in between you'll find the full gamut of examples of the city's diverse architecture from Ottoman through neo-classical mid-European to the rather inconguously modern National Theatre and Centre of Culture building.
During the day this is where you'll find all the useful shops and services, banks, art galleries and museums, a couple of churches and the consulates of several European countries (hence the sometimes used nickname "City of Consuls"). At night though the street comes into its own. Every other building seems to be a cafe/bar with their terraces extending into the middle of the street (although they do have fixed lines which they are not supposed to cross).
The top end, above the Coce Delchev Square (where the National Theatre is) is mainly the youngsters half where the music blares from within and the terraces are packed to bursting as the evening progresses. The bottom half is that little bit more subdued, the music is a tad gentler on the ears (and even almost recognisable to me) and the pace is a little slower.
So during my visit what I'd do is meet up with people at the top end bars (usually The Millenium) before they got too busy, then go out for a meal and afterwards take a wander down to the bottom end for a bit of chill out and my nightcaps (yep plural HIC!).
OK so my intro page might lead you to believe that all I'm interested in when travelling is beer and pretty women but honestly (please believe me) I'm not that shallow a person.
I also love a good food market (especially one with pretty girls and surrounded by bars) and the market here in Bitola, attached to the main bazaar, is a perfect one. For me the perfect food market is one where everything on the stalls is local and seasonal, where the first sensual experience is the assault of the aromas.
Fondest memory: On the morning I visited my first assaillant was the lady with the full-headed sheaves of wheat which she alluringly invited me to savour. I can still smell them now, musky and earthy and redolent of the sun and rain that nurtured them.
Next around the corner was a stall with nothing but spring onions, verdantly green-topped, bulbously white fleshed and presented root first to showcase the plants overall health. These too told me their story, their oniony springness pervading their corner.
But best was yet to come. Every other stall was selling strawberries, strawberries as I remember them from childhood, plump and imperfect. Piled high a few were bruised but these weren't showcase strawbs, not neatly arranged in little plastic punnets like you get in the supermarkets, these were strawberries ripe for eating - no delicacy required just plunge and eat and so cheap that I envisaged a feast with whipped cream and just a hint of sugar and no utensils, apart from fingers, necessary.
Then the back flavours - the spice stalls with their mini mountains of ground paprikas - Man this was just heaven for me (and the pretty girl buying them added that extra dimension of sensuality).
Not only pretty girls though as the last pic demonstrates - a bit of shopping before heading for the bar!
From the ground level Bitola comes across as a very neat little city with everything compactly clustered around its centre. To appeciate just how neat and compact it in fact is you only need to take a short walk along the river, up the Blvd 1st May, and have a brief scrabble up the hill where the Tsoi Most (Bridge) leads to ul Dragorska.
From here the panorama takes in the minarets of the two main mosques, the clock tower and the tower of the orthodox church as well as the general overview.
Favorite thing: go out and get wasted,such places are:Rascekor(one of the best places to meet people and get together with your friends),Pajton(the place where the 'cream' goes out),Gradska Kafeana(the best seafood you can find...)...
As a fan of "lady hand shaped" door knockers I found some that type door knockers during my Bitola visit.
For more door knockers you can visit my door knockers album at my homepage
Favorite thing: When I was visiting the Museum at Bitola I saw an exhibiton about Pianos of Bitola. I learnt that Bitola boasted 2,000 households and every second household owned a piano.