History of Bitola


Part 2

In the XV century, in Bitola settled Jewish population expelled from Spain and Portugal, and in the XVIII century Vlach population came, which was forced to flee in front of Ali Pasha from Janina, an oppressor who burned down the great and prosperous city Moskopole in 1778.

Ентериер на синагогата во Битола (се наоѓала во близина на Безистенот)
Interior of the synagogue in Bitola (located near the Bezisten Bazaar), demolished during WW2

This growth of the city enabled Bitola, after Thessaloniki, to become the most important economic and cultural center of Macedonia. The Ottoman government, through its distinctive Timar-Spahi system of government, burdened the peasant population. There were also numerous gangs of bandits who relentlessly terrorized the inhabitants of the Bitola villages.

As a result, the villagers fled and settled the city. With the displacement of the peasants in Bitola, which began in the 17th century, the city of Bitola will again become a predominantly ethnic Macedonian city. The Albanians also gradually settled Bitola.

In addition to the wealthy Turks, Vlachs and Jews, there were also wealthy Macedonians with ties to Trieste, Vienna, Leipzig, Constantinople, as well as to the states of Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and others. These traders had their own magazines and warehouses in the Bitola Bazaars.

In the city special bazaars were established, where all kind of goods were sold, such as: Pekmez-bazaar, Lenski, Sheep-bazaar, Wood-bazaar, At (horse)-bazaar and others. It was similar with the neighborhoods which received the names: Bair-neighborhood, Bela-Cesma, Cifte-Furni, Arnaut, Gypsy, Jewish, Yeni-neighborhood and others. During the market days in the bazaar, many different languages were heard such as Macedonian, Vlach, Ladino (Hebrew), Turkish and others. Most of the population spoke two or three languages.

Market day in Bitola – Bitola during the Balkan Wars
Житни Пазар мај 1905 испратена во Анверс, Белгија, 7 март 1907 год. Житни Пазар постоеше сé до 1973 година кога на тоа место беше изградена Стоковната куќа на Т.П.„Јавор”.
Cereal Market – May 1905 – The Cereal Market existed until 1973 when the Javor store was built there.

During this time, the Venetian envoy Lorenzo Bernardo left wonderful data on the city. He writes:

… Monasterio is a very populated place … As they say, there are 1,500 houses of which 200 are Jewish … there is no fortress … there is a seat of judges and judicial authorities, its abundant in grain and trading in wool, wax, skins … Abundant with water and fountains … it Has free-standing, beautiful mosques, caravan …“.

During this period, the citizens of Bitola, for their own needs, for all occasions, copied Western European fashion, clothing, contacts, manners, and also copied the exterior shine through architecture, bringing a new western-style lifestyle to the city. Then the number of inhabitants in Bitola increased significantly.

Thus, from a city of about 8,000 in 1807 to 46,000 in 1858, it was among the most developed cities not only in Macedonia but in the Balkans.

Since the 50’s of the 19th century Bitola as a center for European Turkey has aroused the interest of many Balkan and European countries to open their own consular offices and agencies. This has led Bitola to become an important military-economic – political and cultural center, to develop trade links with Europe, and to orient itself from an oriental into a European city, in architecture, lifestyle, behavior, clothing, and so on. This is the period when Bitola got the epithets “City of consuls”, “city of pianos“, etc.

Концертен клавир - J.CZAPKA & SOHN - WIENA, 1840 година Сопственик: НУ Завод и музеј Битола / Откупен од семејството Спростран кое го купува клавирот во Виена
Concert piano – J.CZAPKA & SOHN – WIENA, 1840
Owner: NI Institute and Museum Bitola / Redeemed by the Sastran family who bougt the piano in Vienna

In November, 1851 Austria was the first to opened its consulate, and later diplomats were sent from Russia, Greece, Serbia, Italy, Romania, the United Kingdom, France, so that for nine decades of the consular period, Bitola had more than a hundred consuls.

Bitola abounds in old architecture, dating back to the period of Romanticism, Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque. Some of the monumental buildings are protected by law, such as: Bezisten, Isak Mosque, Hajdar-kadi Mosque, Clock Tower, House of Army (Oficerski), Catholic Church, St. Dimitrij church, Holy Sunday and St. Mary, former Ottoman Bank, etc.

Clock Tower Bitola
Св. Димитриј, Битола
St. Dimitrij church