"Sign of the times." Bitola Things to Do Tip by planxty
Bitola Things to Do: 111 reviews and 271 photos
As I wandered around the main squre in Bitola, one of the first things I noticed was the edifice you see in the photo. Aesthetically, I thought it was a little odd but I was quite prepared to accept local custom, that is the way I travel. I know nothing about statuary so it was with a bit of a sense of relief that I received the information I will now share with you.
Let's be brutally honest here, the Balkans has a long and all too recent history of violence and very unfortunate things, many of which I remember in my lifetime. I am not going to go into it in any detail, primarily because I do not know enough and secondarily because VT very rightly excludes political / religious comments. This is entirely correct because this is a travel site. However it is impossible to write decent travel tips without the odd oblique reference to these matters. How, for example, could I have written a tip about the Killing Fields wothout mentioning the Khmer Rouge? I think the trick is to make it as apolitical as possible and speak from your own advised perspective. Enough of this.
This is a monument, well not quite a monument yet, that adorns the main square in Bitola. As I mentioned, I thought is looked a little disproportionate and, thankfully, I was right. At least I am not losing it completely. Apparently, this is a monument to King Phillip II of Macedonia, father to Alexander III, better known as Alexander the Great. Herein lies the problem.
If you read some of my tips from a few years ago when I travelled from Northern Greeece to Macedonia, I found all the Greeks called all of Macedonia Skopje. Skopje is the capital city of what (and I know they don't like it) is officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Obviously, over millenia, boundaries have changed. Greece is now in the Federal States of E, also known as the EU, and is objesting to the Macedonians calling themselves Macedonians as they consider part of Macedonia to be in Northern Greece. Just recently, the limited train service I used from Greece has been shut down. There is a lot of sabre rattling because the Macedonians want to join E. I find it all very sad having Greek friends and Macedonian friends and loving both countries.
If you are still with me, you will see that I wasn't actually wrong, there should be a statue on top of this plinth, namely one of Phillip II. It is not there because the Macedonian authorities are trying to reach some sort of rapprochment with Greece. I await the outcome with interest.
Perhaps when the reader comes, there will be a statue there.
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