Bitola is Macedonia's second biggest city, with a population of nearly 100 thousand. The Greek border is only 14 kilometres away, the Albanian is almost as close - and it can be said that Bitola has a distinctly Mediterranean atmosphere, especially its huge labyrinth of picturesque narrow streets in its old town looks most appealing.
The nature around Bitola is of great beauty too - so it is definitely a place worth travelling to if you are a lover of gorgeous landscapes. However, Bitola's most amazing feature certainly is the ruins of the ancient town of Heraclea Lyncestis, which was founded by the Greeks, but later became Roman.
Today, remnants from both periods can be found, and what's probably most fascinating is a well-preserved Roman amphitheater, which is still - or again - used for cultural events! Those have a wonderful feeling. Heraclea Lyncestis is only two kilometers away from Bitola. The city of Bitola proper also has a multitude of historic monuments in it center - most notably the Turkish Ajdar-kadi Mosque, built in the 16th century, and a famous Turkish bath, and of course many Christian buildings of great historic interest.
Bitola is the administrative, commercial and cultural center of South-Eastern Macedonia, and presently it is seen as up-and-coming.
The proximity to Greece (and Albania) clearly has been a positive factor in its recent development, but what turned out to be most crucial were the radical free-market reforms that have been going on in the country since the nineties. Macedonia is a low-tax country with un-restricted business environment, and this fact has had an excellent impact on its economic trends. Historically, Bitola was known as the "City of Consulates". This is now again the case. Already, eleven countries have opened representations in the city, among them: France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Turkey.
But the city is also culturally of huge importance: The "Heraclea Festival", an annual theater, art, and music event of great proportions.
The Manaki Festival of Film and Camera, which also is of significant international renown, are only two among the many reasons for stopping by in Bitola to enrich one's cultural horizon. The fact that the people of Bitola are famous for their typically Macedonian hospitality and their spicy Balkans dishes certainly doesn't hurt...