Manastir maintains its Ottoman character

Having been conquered in 1382, Manastir was strategically important for Ottoman policy in the Balkans. The Ottoman lifestyle and culture still reflects itself in many spheres of life and architecture.

Manastir maintains its Ottoman character

ESRA HASIP - Kuzey News Agency

Manastir, also known as Bitola, is a Macedonian city which had been ruled by the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries. Unlike many other Ottoman cities in the Balkans, works of art inherited from Ottoman times have survived to this day. The city has hosted several Turkish baths, mosques, bazaars and a clock tower which stands as a landmark from the Ottoman period.

Having been conquered in 1382, Manastir was strategically important for Ottoman policy in the Balkans. The Ottoman lifestyle and culture still reflects itself in many spheres of life and architecture.


The Yeni Mosque is one of the most significant Ottoman architectural works in Manastir, which was sponsored by the Judge of Manastir, Mehmet Efendi, in the 16th century. The mosque had been used as an art gallery since 1957, but today it is closed. Due to the claims that before the mosque there was an ancient church in the same place, archeological works have been conducted to find remnants of the church. Although no official documents related to mosque's construction have been found, there is an inscription identifying the renovation works conducted in the 18th and 19th centuries. Having been covered with one dome, the mosque has one minaret made out of dimension stone. The mosque is located in the popular Sirok neighborhood of the city.


Another Ottoman heritage in Manastir is the Ishak Celebi Mosque, which is also in the city center and once contained the local madrasa, lodges and a library. Only the mosque managed to survive to this day. At the beginning of 16th century, the local governor Ishak Celebi sponsored the construction of this complex, which was renovated several times in the past. Lastly, Turkey's state-owned TIKA started the restoration of the mosque, which is expected to complete in 2015.


Another important Ottoman work of art is the clock tower standing between the Ishak Celebi Mosque and the Yeni Mosque. The 22 meter high tower was built in the 17th century. Having been severely and adversely effected from the deliberate nationalist campaign to destroy the Ottoman legacy in the Balkans region, a cross was placed on the tower to certify the town's Christian character. In front of it, a monument representing Macedonian soldiers that were killed during civil war was erected.

The Haji Mahmud Bey Mosque, Haydar Kadi Mosque and the Haji Hamza Bey Mosque are today being used for other purposes are not used at all. Similarly, the Turkish Bath of Deboy, which was built in the 16th century, is today used as an art gallery.


The Bazaar of Manastir was a strategic transaction point for regional trade in the Balkans in the 15th century and was an indispensible part of political and cultural life. In the 17th century, there were more than one thousand merchants in the Bazaar, which was known for its various arts and crafts. With its increasing popularity, jewellers in Manastir became known for their special designs. Unfortunately, at the end of 19th century, the Bazaar had lost its reputation due to tragic political developments.

Today, the Macedonian Ministry of Culture and UNESCO have been working cooperatively in order to protect the cultural inheritance in the city's Bazaar, which will be mostly renovated at the end of 2014.


Bedesten stands still at the focal point of business life in Manastır. The construction of the Bedesten, a traditional shopping mall, was completed in 16th century. It is across the Ishak Celebi Mosque and has four entrances. On each of the gates, the symbols of the Ottoman moon and crescent, catch the eye of passersby. There are 86 stores operating in the Bedesten which is illuminated with sunshine which beams through little windows on its ceiling.

Last Mod: 08 Nisan 2014, 14:59
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