Bitola is the second largest city in Macedonia. It is in the western section of the Pelagonija Valley, only a few miles from the Greek border, on the Dragor River, 600 meters above sea level. To the west is the Baba Mountain, a national park, 2600 m up. Near the town are ruins of the ancient Heraclea Lyncestis, which was founded by Philip II in the 4th century B.C., on the ancient Roman road Via Egnatia. Connecting the south of the Adriatic Sea with the Aegean Sea and the central part of Europe made it an important trade center in the past. It's population is approximately 125,000 people.
Bitola was once known as Butelion, which is the origin of its modern name. It was repeatedly conquered and plundered during the Middle Ages, and was placed under Ottoman rule in the 14th century. By the 19th century, however, it had become a trade center, with important links to Budapest, Istanbul, Leipzig, Trieste, and Vienna.
Bitola was a center of Macedonian revolutionary activities, and in 1893 a group of Macedonian intellectuals formed the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. Within ten years, this group helped cause the Ilinden Uprising. In the early 20th century, the Ilinden Uprising, the Balkan Wars, and especially World War I, where Bitola was part of the Macedonian Front and experienced a population drop of over 40,000 people, destroyed the connections of Bitola to the rest of the world. Bitola did not revive until after World War II, where it once again became an economical and administrative center of Macedonia.