Throughout its long history, Bitola was known as an important trade center of this part of the Balkans.
Traders from Bitola were well known to the East and West. The Old Bazaar in Bitola, as one of the most vital parts of the city, played important role in its prosperity through the ages. It was not only an integral part of everyday life of the local residents, but also through it survived a much wider region, and the larger structure of people: merchants, craftsmen, farmers, hann (inn) owners, tradesman etc.
Although trade in Bitola was developed much earlier, the Bazaar as a separate unit, begun to develop during the Turkish rule. It was a distinctive oriental way of trading. Since its birth in the fifteenth century, by the end of the nineteenth century, this living organism grew, evolved, had its diseases and suffered many accidents, as fires, floods, epidemics, etc.
The Old Bazaar is one of the most important features of Bitola and as a cultural and historical monument. It followed the fate of the city of Bitola. The Bazaar was not only a place for commerce, but here was also felt the breath of time, politics and culture. The Old Bazaar had its own life, philosophy, and respectful attitude towards all people, especially to social phenomena. The money, gold gains from trade of goods, have established very strong human, national, racial, religious and any other kind of tolerance between the Macedonian, Turkish, Jewish and other ethnic groups.
In the Bitola Old Bazaar, in the seventeenth century there were over 900 stores, and since the half of the nineteenth century this number grew up to thousands trade, craft and merchant stores.
The Bazaar of Bitola (Monastir) was simply a place where you can find anything. The silversmiths, tavern, butchers, shoe makers, gun powder makers, hann (inn) owners, soap makers and others, were known to be good masters, whose products had a high reputation. At special price were the "artistic" craft jewelers, painters, shop owners, masons, carvers, photographers and others.
As for products, especially was traded with: grain, leather, wool, kerosene, tar, salt, cattle, cotton, wax, fat, lead, gunpowder, and silk, sterling silver, precious metals, gold and silver products, watches etc.
Concerning the Bazaar life and bazaar clients, all these people had their own habits and requirements, minor human weaknesses and desires to experience, buy or carry some of the most mannerly city in this part of the Empire.
Apart from trade, as a separate branch of interest was the large Turkish army stationed into the city (Sometimes more than 30.000 soldiers) and later the diplomatic world with the consuls from many European countries.
Of course, these were only a part of the good times of the Old Bazaar. However, due to wars, economic crises, fires and other accidents, the Bazaar suffered a lot during the years of its existence, but yet the most difficult years for the Bazaar were those from the end XIX and beginning XX century. Since then, the glory of Bitola, and by so the glory of the Old Bazaar from Bitola, was in constant decline.
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