Dzepane or “The Fortress above Bitola” (Turkish “cephane” – gun powder / ammunition depot; Macedonian: Џепане) is a monument of culture in Republic of Macedonia.
Built in 1876, it consists of four unique buildings, built from carved stone and surrounded with high stone wall.
The object is located in the former Bitola barracks area and is considered to be the supreme architectural accomplishment of the masons from Smilevo village.
According to one legend, when the Bitola Vali (Guvernor during Turkish time) offered money to the masons for their work, they replied:
“… it is already paid Vali, we do not take money for holy work”.
He didn’t realized what they were saying, but later he found out that the object was raised in a shape of a cross, as it is clearly visible from the opposite hill.
During Turkish rule near the object were located the great “Red” and “White” army barracks, (in today’s city park) which at certain moments were a base for at least 30,000 Turkish soldiers.
The Red Army barack with Dzepane in the background – Bitola ~ 1908
During the First World War, all of these military facilities were severely damaged, but unlike the Barracks, the Dzepane remained and was later renovated.
Dzepane damaged by granades during WW1 – 1917
This object was again used by YNA (Yugoslav National Army) and later ARM (Army of the Republic of Macedonia), and it was once again a warehouse for weapons, kept as military secret, protected by guards, barbed wire and steel gates.
Especially interesting are the large number of lightning rods surrounding this building, as a different kind of protection, now against natural influences.
Today, with the closure of the army barracks the building is empty and lately is a target of theft and destruction.