Located in the center of the city, the Clock Tower is the most recognizable landmark of Bitola. It is assumed that it was built in a same time with the church St. Dimitrj, that is, sometime around 1830. This was a period when large construction projects were undertaken in Bitola, which later transformed the city into the center of European Turkey.
Although today everyone knows the Clock Tower, and people often pass by it, few people know about the relief symbol located on a stone on the south-eastern edge, i.e. on the side of the track leading to Sirok Sokak. It is a relief that shows a battle between eagle and snake.
Location of the relief symbol on the Clock Tower
The eagle is a big and strong bird, with a curved beak and good vision. Flying high in the sky, eagles can clearly see things on the ground. The eagle is a symbol of clear vision and understanding of things, courage, strength and immortality. It is also considered a “king of the sky” and a messenger of gods. These attributes made it a symbol of power in ancient Rome, the ancient Greeks associated it with the god Zeus, the German tribes with Odin, and in early Christianity it was considered a symbol of hope, strength, salvation and was connected with Jesus Christ. Today, as symbol, it can be seen on the flags and coats of arms of many countries.
The snake is a universal and complex symbol and can represent death, destruction, evil, poison, but also healing and revival. In the Christian tradition, the Satan in form of a snake deceived Adam and Eve to try the forbidden apple. So the snake can be associated with temptation, Satan, and deception. However, often the snake is associated with a positive symbolism such as the snakes around the Rod of Asclepius as a symbol of medicine and healing, that is, the serpent can symbolize healing and / or revival (changing its skin).
If we take into account the period when the Clock Tower was built and the fact that such representations are not allowed in Islam, we can assume that the relief was placed by the masons of the Clock Tower which were probably of Christian faith. Although it is not known who they were, it is a fact that in that period many of the important objects in the city were built by masons of Christian faith. The Great Red Barrack was built according to the design of the architect Stojan Vezenkov, and at the gun powder storage – The Dzepane, which seen from distance has a shape of cross, was built by Christian masons from village Smilevo.
Eagle and snake fighting symbolize two sides of a conflict. Both animals are strong and ruthless, but most often the eagle is seen as the noble side and as a contrast to the snake, which is often represented as bad. Most often in this battle, the eagle, that is, the good side wins.
Today it is not known exactly when the Clock Tower was built and who were the masons. Did the Turkish authorities knew about the relief and its meaning and whether it was a stamp or a message the masons wanted to convey, are topics also interesting as the legend of 60,000 eggs used in the construction of the Clock Tower.