Bitola – Macedonia, Europe
Bitola (Macedonian: Битола ), formerly Monastir or Manastır; known also by several alternative names) is a city in the southwestern part of the Republic of Macedonia. The city is an administrative, cultural, industrial, commercial, and educational centre. It is located in the southern part of the Pelagonia valley, surrounded by the Baba and Nidže mountains, 14 km north of the Medžitlija-Níki border crossing with Greece. It is an important junction connecting the south of the Adriatic Sea with the Aegean Sea and Central Europe. It has been known since the Ottoman period as “the city of the consuls”, since many European countries have consulates in Bitola. According to some sources, Bitola is the secondor third largest town in the country, competing with Kumanovo. Bitola is also the seat of the Bitola Municipality.
Bitola is located in the southwestern part of Macedonia. The Dragor River flows through the city. Bitola lies at an elevation of 615 meters above sea level, at the foot of Baba Mountain. Its magnificent Pelister mountain (2601 m) is a national park with exquisite flora and fauna, among which the rarest species of pine, known as Macedonian pine or pinus peuce, as well as a well-known ski resort.
Covering an area of 1,798 km². and with a population of 122,173 (1991), Bitola is an important industrial, agricultural, commercial, educational, and cultural center. It represents an important junction that connects the Adriatic Sea to the south with the Aegean Sea and Central Europe.
The Bitola area is very rich in monuments from the prehistoric period. Two important ones are Veluška Tumba, and Bara Tumba near the village of Porodin. From the Copper Age there are the settlements of Tumba near the village of Crnobuki, Shuplevec near the village of Suvodol, and Visok Rid near the village of Bukri. The Bronze Age is represented by the settlements of Tumba near the village of Kanino and the settlement with the same name near the village of Karamani.
It is unknown when Bitola’s clock tower was built. Written sources from the 16th century mention a clock tower, but it is not clear if it is the same one. Some believe it was built at the same time as St. Dimitrija Church, in 1830. Legend says that the Ottoman authorities collected around 60,000 eggs from nearby villages and mixed them in the mortar to make the walls stronger.
The tower has a rectangular base and is about 30 meters high. Near the top is a rectangular terrace with an iron fence. On each side of the fence is an iron console construction which holds the lamps for lighting the clock. The clock is on the highest of three levels. The original clock was replaced during World War II with a working one, given by the Nazis because the city had maintained German graves from World War I. The massive tower is composed of walls, massive spiral stairs, wooden mezzanine constructions, pendentives and the dome. During the construction of the tower, the façade was simultaneously decorated with simple stone plastic.
Bitola is the economic and industrial center of southwestern Macedonia. Many of the largest companies in the country are based in the city. The Pelagonia agricultural combine is the largest producer of food in the country. The Streževo water system is the largest in the Republic of Macedonia and has the best technological facilities. The three thermoelectric power stations of REK Bitola produce nearly 80% of electricity in the state. The Frinko refrigerate factory was a leading electrical and metal company. Bitola also has significant capacity in the textile and food industries.
Bitola is also home to eleven consulates, which gives the city the nickname “the city of consuls.”