the market of Bitola, discover traditional smell and taste

Journey in the city that keeps Oriental memories with a glance turned to the west


City of Bitola, Republic of Macedonia.

City of Bitola, Republic of Macedonia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sara Gigante – Bitola, formerly known also as the city of the consuli, is located on the old Street Ignatia that connected Salonicco with the Adriatic coast.
According to the estimate is , for size, the second biggest city of Macedonia and it is located on the south-west of the country. 

Source of inspiration for poets and singers – there are about 500 songs dedicated to Bitola – the beautyness and its position make this city an obliged stop for all the travelers which love history and research.
The ruins of the old city of Heraklea, really important military and strategic center wanted by Filippo II, surely deserve a visit. He excavation started in the 1938 showed relevant and well kept remains, as for example the mosaics and the city walls.
The city of Bitola, instead, assert itself as an important commercial city since the middle age. The impression that gets people walking through the tight streets is the one of a magnificent fusion between the oriental and occidental world, an explosion of colors and bazaars, smells of past times that we, travelers

English: Bitola (1914), Macedonia

English: Bitola (1914), Macedonia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

coming from a so close and even so far western world, have forgotten already since time or, even, never known.
The sight search with curiosity the low houses, painted with soft colors from pink to beige, the goods invite me to pick up the money that i still didn’t learn to handle and that i put casually in my pockets.
Bitola is a city with thousand legends….a bit charming a bit truthful.
One of those is about the tower with the clock Saat Kula, which existence is proved from some documents from the XVI century, but, as there are some lack in the description, it’s not sure that is surely the same building. According to the opinion of a lot fo people Saat Kula was built in the 1830, at the same time of the Saint Dimitija church. The popular tradition says that the Turkish authorities confiscated to the farmers 60.000 eggs, that, united with the mortar, were used to build the tower.
The real attraction of Bitola is, without any doubt , its čaršija (old market), that is also one of the best kept, with its about 60.000 shops.
Its History is lost in the centuries, in fact was built contemporaneously with the first mosque by the Ottoman authorities (XIV cent). The Turkish, after the occupation of Bitola, built tekii (muslim monastery), amami (turkish bath), bezisteni ( covered market), imareti (public kitchen).
During the XV century the čaršija developed quickly thanks to the huge commercial activities with Venice, so Bitola became a real oriented flavored city.
The end of the Turkish domination and its 2 Balkan wars scared the beginning of the decadence of the old market , because a part of that was destroyed after the liberation of the city.
One law of the 1967, was enacted to protect the rests:27 streets, 604 shops, the Bezisten, the Deboj and the complex of the Hadzi Bey mosque.
Bezisten is the covered market of Bitola, built by the Turkish in the XVI century. It owns 86 workshop,that offered every kind of fabric or textile clothing. Its shape remained intact since the 2nd world war in which was seriously damaged.
Recently a lot of small shops and restaurants gave new life to this superbe architectural work.
In the Bitola’s museum is possible to visit the memorial dedicate to Kemal Ataturk that lived his first years in Macedonia and finished his high-school studies here in Bitola. An old proverb says:
“without Napoleon, without De Gaulle there surely would be France
But without Ataturk there would be no Turkey”.
The church of Saint Demetrio was built in the 1830 when the Ottomans, after centuries of forbiddance, allowed the construction of churches to please the population. This grant anyway included the command of not adorning the wall face and to built the floor about one meter lower than the ground level, so that the building could not be seen.
Not be lost is also the Jews cemetery (1947), the oldest in the Balkan, and the french one.
Rich history, well kept monuments, smiling people and incredibly tasty and genuine food (watch out the shape!). All that and a lot more is Bitola. A place to visit and to come back.

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