Bitola is the second largest city in Republic of Macedonia, located in the south East part.
Placed on both sides of Dragor River in the Pelagonia Plain, beneath the Pelister mountain the city occupies 2.245 hectares of area. According to the 2002 census Bitola has population of 74.550.
With the other parts of Macedonia, Bitola is connected with the M5 Road (Ohrid – Bitola – Prilep) and the train station in Bitola, which trough Prilep and Veles, connects Bitola with the capital Skopje.
By air, Bitola is connected with the world trough Ohrid and Skopje airport. Ohrid airport is 75 (46.6 miles) km distant from Bitola and the Skopje Airport 160 km (99.4 miles).
Bitola has moderate continental climate with average year temperature of 11 C (51.8 F) and average year rains of 600 mm.
History of Bitola
South of Bitola in one of its suburb lays the antique city Heraclea Lyncestis, build by Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great and king of Macedon from 359 BCE until 336 BCE. Heraclea Lyncestis was important strategic city in Ancient Macedonia but also in Roman time, lying on the famous Via Egnatia road which connected the city of Byzantium (later Constantinople, now Istanbul) with the Adriatic Sea.
The modern city of Bitola was erected by the Slavs and they gave the city the name – Obitel, which means habitat or living place with many monasteries.
The city by its current name is mentioned for the first time in 1014 as Episcopal center during the rule of Tzar Samoil (976 – 1018).
During the whole middle ages, especially in XIII and XIV century Bitola became important trade center in Pelagonia.
In 1382 the city of Bitola was captured by the Turks, which ruled in Macedonia until the Balkan wars in 1912.
In the middle of XV century Bitola became important economic and cultural center of European Turkey and capital of “Bitolskata nahija”, administrative area in that time which had more than 150 populated places.
In 1492 escaping from the inquisition in Portugal and Spain, about 90,000 Jews came to the Balkans, from which 700 settled in Bitola. The Jews in Bitola in the time of the Turkish rule, preserved all of their ethnic marks, living in the city concentrated in one space – a ghetto which was established in the space behind today’s “Health home”.
The famous traveler-writer Evliya Celebi (1611 – 1682) had visited Bitola in 1662 and noted that the city (than called Monastiri) had ~ 3.000 small and big houses, grouped in 21 neighborhoods, bazaar with 900 shops and covered bazaar (Bezisten).
In the beginning of XIX with the destruction of Moscopole by Ali Pasha of Yannina (Aslan) (1740 – 1822) the Aromanian population from this city fled from the region, and significant number of Vlachs had settled in Bitola. This resulted with great expansion of Bitola in the areas of commerce and trade.
In 1835 the city had population of about 40.000 and in the middle of XIX the stationing of large number of Ottoman army in Bitola, resulted with increased craftsman and trade with more than 2.000 shops and 140 different trades.
Bitola as military center had also increased foreign presence of consuls from the neighboring countries and Europes major powers. Due to this, Bitola gained the epithet as “Bitola – The City of Consuls” a synonym used in modern days also.
The construction of railway Thessaloniki – Bitola in 1894, resulted with further development of trade in the city and the emergence of the first industrial capacities.
Bitola Macedonia old photos
The Balkan wars 1912-1913 and especially the First World War, brought great destruction and misery in the city of Bitola. In the First World War (WW1), Bitola lied on the actual Macedonian front line and the city was bombarded daily during 1917. Many experts claim that Verden and Bitola (than Monastir, Monastiri in some sources) were the two most bombarded cities in WW1.
Between the two world wars, with Macedonia as part of the kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes, Bitola lost its strategic importance and expansion momentum, but also for the first time in its history the further development of Bitola was planned, according to urban development strategy.
In 1948 Bitola had population of 31.761 and in 1991 in Bitola lived 84.002 people. In the following year there is evident decline in the number of population due to declined birth rate and emigration of the population in other countries. According to the 2002 census in Bitola live 74.550, among which 66.038 are from the Macedonian ethnic entity, 2.360 Albanians, 1.562 Turks, 2.577 Roma, 997 Vlachs, 499 Serbs, 20 Bosniacs and 497 other.
The city of Bitola is administrative center of the Municipality of Bitola which occupies and area of 78.795 ha and has 66 populated places with more than 100.000 inhabitants.
Within the city operate factories from the textile, leather, agricultural, machine, electro and other industry. Bitola is second largest administrative, political, cultural, educational and health center in Republic of Macedonia.
Today Bitola can again proudly carry its second name – The City of Consuls, since it again has 11 consulates from the neighboring and major European countries.
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