Bitola (Macedonian: Битола) is a grand old town that still bears the marks of its turn-of-the-century importance as a center for diplomacy – while also exemplifying the country’s time-honored cafe culture. Bitola is nicknamed “city of consuls” and is the second largest city in the Republic of Macedonia, with a population of nearly 100,000.
Founded in the middle of the 4th century by Phillip II, the father of Alexander the Great, Heraclea Lyncestis ("the city of Hercules on the land of the lynx"; ''Lyncestis'' being an ancient moniker for Upper Macedonia, mountains of which are still home to a number of lynx), this is the only site in the country that is actually associated with the ancient Macedonians, although most of the ruins that can be seen today date back to the Roman and the early Christian period. Only a small portion of the city has been unearthed, including a theatre, two water fountains, a courthouse, baths, the bishop's palace and two basilicas (but, save for the theatre, you'll need a lot of imagination to visualize how these buildings looked like in their heyday, as all that is left are their foundations). What actually worth seeing on the site are the '''mosaics''' of the big basilica, made in the 5th century. The floor mosaic in the narthex is the most complete presentation of the world as they understood it back then. In the centre of a rectangular field there is a fountain out of which a grapevine comes (as a symbol of Christ's teachings) and peacocks and deer are gathered around (as symbol of eternal life), meaning if you accept the teaching of Christ you’ll have eternal life. On the left and on the right there are 5 trees rich with fruits with birds flying around (representing the garden of Eden and the afterlife), and a huge red dog called Kerber (Cerberus) is guarding the entrance. Below the trees, animals like deer are presented attacked and eaten by wild animals (presenting the suffering of the Christian soul in the earth life). The field is surrounded by water with medallions in which 28 water animals are presented. The mosaic has been made with little stones in 27 different colours (the only “richer” mosaic is found in Pompeii - a wall mosaic made of stones in 32 colours). There is a small '''museum''' (no extra fee) on the grounds with very few artifacts (more or less limited to a couple of ancient stone masks) and a nice scale model of the city at its peak. If you are already in Bitola, Heraclea is probably worth a visit, but if you have already been to much better known sites of antiquity around the Mediterranean basin, keep in mind that this place leaves much to be desired—but, hey, where else has such a romantic name? - A leisurely stroll around the ruins will take 45–50 minutes at most. Most of the site is inaccessible for wheelchair users.
A pedestrian street lined with nice colourful romantic and neo-classical buildings. It is divided into three parts and even though the first part has the best preserved buildings it is worth walking all the way to the end. The street is very lively and lined with cafes which are excellent for relaxing and people-watching, especially since the girls from Bitola are known as the most beautiful in Macedonia and they love to parade up and down the street dressed in their Sunday best. In the first section check out the '''Catholic Cathedral'''. Shirok Sokak ends with the '''old barracks''', where the military academy where Atatürk studied was situated, and which today serves as the city museum. Opposite it stands the '''ball hall'''. Across the street as a continuance of Shirok Sokak the '''City Park''' stands, where the old '''Sokolana''' (physical education building) for the students of the former military academy is situated. For more nice houses walk in the streets left of Shirok Sokak.
Is the cathedral church of the city and the most beautiful example of the so-called “revival period” churches in Macedonia. Turks didn’t allow building of new churches during their occupation, but as the empire was weakening in the 18th century they started giving permissions for building of churches to keep the population happy. There were many rules to be followed, like the exterior had to be without decorations and the floor of the church had to be at least one metre below the ground so the church wouldn’t dominate the skyline of the city. It was built in 1830, as a three-naved basilica with galleries and five chapels. While they had to keep the exterior modest the interior is lavishly decorated with woodwork. The huge icon screen was made in 1845.
The consulates were probably the most beautiful houses in Bitola, and they are all situated in a half circle. On Leninova Street check out the '''Russian consulate''' and the old '''theological high school'''. On Kiril and Metodi Street are the '''British''', the '''Serbian''', the '''French''', the '''Greek''' and the '''Austrian''' consulates (I don’t know where the Italian, the Bulgarian and American consulate stand). Most interesting is the British consulate, which was the first one to be built and is a combination of traditional architecture and neo-classical decorations.
– even though it is smaller than the one in Skopje, the bazaar in Bitola is cleaner and much more taken care of, so it is purported to be the most beautiful old bazaar in Macedonia, yet it lacks the hustle and bustle of the bazaar of Skopje, even feeling like a ghost town in parts (maybe the shop owners are on vacation in summer?). It has pleasant small squares with water fountains and many Ottoman monuments in and around it. A large portion of the old bazaar was demolished in the 1950s for the city square to be built. Fortunately the main monuments were left standing.
One of the most attractive monuments of the Islamic architecture in Bitola. It was built in 1561-1562, as the project of the famous architect Sinn Mimar, ordered by the Bitola kadija Ajdar-kadu. The mosque was abandoned and over time, it was heavily damaged, but, the recent restoration and conservation works, have restored, to a certain extent, the original appearance to the mosque.
In historical, quiet and central area. 15 minutes to the bus and train station. The old part of the city is 2 minutes walk from the hostel. Young, friendly and English speaking staff, free city maps. Breakfast included in the price. Free bus and train station pick ups.
- is located in the very heart of Bitola. It contains 6 double, 7 triple and 2 luxury equipped suites. The hotel is 10 km from Pelister National Park. Every room is built in the old spirit and possesses all conveniences.
A small basilica church built in 1870. This church is a triple flight church with an octagonal cupola on the west side. Under the west entry (door) there is a magnificent iconostasis made by a master woodcarver from Mijak.
It offers great parties for the weekends and nicely atmosphere for the daytime. The music selection is always different: pop, ex-yu (music from Yugoslav pop and rock groups), DJ selections, romantic music.
There are a dozen buses between Bitola and Skopje (3 hours) that stop in Prilep and Veles, and a couple of buses connecting Bitola and Ohrid (1.5 hours) that stop in Resen.
Many nice buildings can be seen on a walk along the quay of Dragor river, including Josip Broz Tito High School and the building of the dean of Bitola University.
The clock tower is the pride of the people from Bitola. It was first built in 1664 but got its present appearance in the 19th century, and is 30 meters high.
This is a coffee and night pub. ''Kamarite'' and ''Porta Jazz'' are official coffee places for '''Brothers Manaki''' film festival and Bitola Fashion Week.
Large peach colored building on 80 Stiv Naumov street, across the street from DVD Club "Dju". Very nice rooms with TV and free wifi. €13/night.
This four star hotel is the finest and largest in all of Bitola. It is located near Shirok Sokak Street, and is the tallest building in Bitola.
Built in 1558 by Kadi Mahmud Efendi, the diameter of the dome is 19 m, and the minaret is 39 m high. This mosque houses the city art gallery.
This is one of the most visited clubs exclusively on summer time. Music hits, R'n'B and Hip Hop music are part of the music sections.
Coffee and a night pub. Like the name says it offers a nice jazz atmosphere. The pub is designed in retro and modern textures.
Elegant food, e.g. popular Macedonian baked pasta (called "Mekici") . Also sweets, for instance, cheesecake, or Nutella cake.
400 den or €7 p/p night, for a room with lots of space. Only open during the Holiday season -mid June till mid September.
Features a big collection of antique cars, as well as some old weaponry, music instruments and traditional clothes.
- built in 1508 by judge Isak Celebi Ibni Asa, the diameter of the dome is 26 m, and the minaret is 45 m high.
next to Sv Dimitri. Recently modernised. Nice double room with ensuite and breakfast €35 [June 2010]
It is also one of the most visited clubs. Music: Macedonian pop, Serbian pop, turbofolk, music hits.
One of the oldest restaurants in town. Offers delicious food, decorated in a modern style.
Built the 16th century, but later reconstructed in neo-baroque style and the city market
There are couple of trains connecting Bitola and Skopje that stop in Prilep and Veles.
27th March 10. Exclusive location in the centre of the city
Very central - just 20m from Shirok Sokak Street.
Elektromak (+389 47 521976)
Bitola is quite nice, and it is favourite city for the Macedonians, since it has the most European atmosphere. It was a seat of consuls in the 19th century and with them they brought the European culture and influenced the local aristocracy, who started living in European fashon and building their houses in mixed neo-classical styles. Bitola is a nice place to visit since Pelister National Park is close, the ancient city of Heraklea is there, it has nice Ottoman architecture and 19th century romantic architecture, so some good examples of everything. It can all be done in a day including enjoying coffee on Shirok Sokak, but you have to put aside a separate day for Pelister National Park. The friendly and helpful ''Tourist Information Office'' is on Ulice Sterio Georgiev, just a few metres from the clock tower (though it has at times been closed). There is a tourist map billboard on the city square (at the river end of Shirok Sokak), but this appears to be the only tourist information in the city out-of-season (October 2011).