Bitola, city of culture and antique

Sirok Sokak Bitola

Press kit from Municipality

1.       Sirok Sokak (Broad street)

Bitola, the second largest city in Macedonia, is a new tourism destination in southeastern Europe with a unique offer for the admirers of antique, old architecture, beautiful mountain landscapes, as well as cultural artistic manifestations organized during the whole year.

The famous street Sirok Sokak stretches through the square. There are a large number of café-bars and restaurants, shops, theater and cinema, galleries and consulates. Bitola has a special architectural ambient specific for it since the second half of the 19th century when Austria, Russia, England, France, Greece, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Italy opened consulates. Since then Bitola is renowned as the city of Consuls, pianos and chariots. The end of Sirok Sokak leads to a wide flowery park full of tree lines followed by a zoo and the archaeological site Heraclea Lyncestis.


2.       Churches and mosques

The most conspicuous monument in Bitola is the 33 meter high Clock Tower erected in 1830, whereas 60.000 eggs were put in the plaster, in order to give the building more strength. The past centuries only justify that building mastery.

Next to the Clock Tower is the statue of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander The Great and founder of the predate city of Bitola, the antique city Heraclea.

Because of the large number of churches and monasteries, Bitola in its history bared the name Monastir. Now the square is adorned by the church Saint Dimitry from 1830, famous for its gilded carved iconoclasts. There are many mosques too. Among them Isac Mosque with the highest cube in the Balkans. The churches and mosques actually transcend the century long picture of Bitola – city of cosmopolitanism and coexistence.

Bitola is also known by the reformer of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürkwho was educated here. In his honor a museum set-up is posed. Given this historical connection, the Turks are the most common visitors in Bitola.


3.       The Manaki Brothers

Bitola is worldly renowned for the brothers Yanaki and Milton Manaki, the first cinematographers on the Balkans. With their Camera 300 they have captured many events from the Ottoman time, when Bitola was an important economical and military center. They were personal photographers of King Karol I, the Turkish Sultan in 1911 and the Yugoslavian King Alexander Karagorgevich in 1929.

In their honor each autumn the International Cinematography Festival “Manaki Brothers” is held in Bitola – the only festival of its kind in the world. Up to now,stars likeCatherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Daryl Hannah, Michael York, Victoria Abril, as well asmanygreat cinematographerssuch asVittorio Storaro, Vadim Yusov, Henri Alekan, Luciano Tovoli,Bruno Delbonnel, Vilmos Zsigmond, José Luis Alcaine and many others,have been special guestsof the festival.

The Manaki Brothers had a cinema in Bitola, but it was burned to the ground. Last year the Municipality started renovation of that historical object. Besides the projection hall, a museum will be built.


4.      Tourism and cultural awards

JustLuxe Travel placed Bitola in Editor's Choice: JustLuxe Lists Their Dream Destinations for 2014. The Balkan Alliance of Hotel Associations BAHA pronounced Bitola for Balkan leader in cultural tourism. At the International fair in Lugano, Switzerland Bitola was awarded twice. First, as the most avantgarde destination among 300 cities. Second, as the most prestige Balkan destination for cultural heritage and festival programs.


5.      Festivals

The special attention that Bitola dedicates to the cultural and historical treasure confirms the brand of Bitola as a city of culture. Last summer, the festival Bitfest, offered 242 cultural events in only two months. For the forthcoming summer the mayor of Bitola, Ph.D.Vladimr Taleski announced even more eventful program, with lots of concerts, plays, exhibitions and festivals, with special accent on the Manaki Brothers festival and The Shakespeare festival, hosted also by Bitola. Moreover, in June, in antique Heraclea theShakespeare's Globe theaterfrom London will be guest staring. “Bitola Open City” Festival that brings popular rock stars, the high heal race on Sirok Sokak and many other events are special attractions for the youth.


6.      Heraclea Lyncestis

The ancient city of Heraclea, situatedon the Roman road Via Egnatia, is a real pearl. Founded in the middle of the IV century B.C. this antique site enchants with beauty of its floor mosaics, basilicas, the arena theater, baths and lots of sacral objects. Today the site is visited by tourists worldwide, while in the antique theater, concerts and cultural performances are organized.

Philologist translated the antique recipes of Marcus Gavius Apicius, the chef of the Emperor Tiberius. These specialties are now being cooked in Bitola, hens the tourists can enjoy in the lavish and extravagance of the royal feasts in Heraclea.


7.       Pelister

With spacious pine tree forests, glacial lakes and alpine meadows, the National park Pelister, 15 km from Bitola, is a place for rest and adventure. With 2601 meters, Pelister is the highest summit of Baba Mountain. The glacial Big and Small Lakes, also known as “Mountain Eyes” radiate with special beauty. The mountain is a dwelling of rare animals, birds and plants. In the lakes live indigenous crabs, while in the streams there is the rare Pelagonia trout. The main phenomena of the park is the five needle pine “Molika”, a relict of the Tertiary and endemic Balkan tree, indigenous kind that grows only on several mountains on the Balkans.

Photo Credit Press kit from Mu

The Clock Tower and the statue of Philip II of Macedon
Photo Credit Press kit from Mu

Catherine Deneuve on Manaki Brothers Festival
Photo Credit Press kit from Mu

Bitola awarded for Balkan leader in cultural tourism
Photo Credit Press kit from Mu

Grammy winning American house music DJ David Morales performs in Bitola
Photo Credit Press kit from Mu

The ancient city Heraclea
Photo Credit Aneta Sijakova


Aneta Sijakova

Aneta Sijakova is a Journalism graduate from University of ‚ÄĚSt. Cyril and Methodius‚ÄĚ in Skopje, Macedonia. She currently works as a journalist correspondent in the Independent National TV station ‚ÄúChannel 5‚ÄĚ. Based in Bitola, the second largest city in Macedonia, she also works as journalist and news presenter in TV station ‚ÄúTERA‚ÄĚ and writes for the newspaper ‚ÄúJavnost‚ÄĚ. She...(Read More)

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