The Brewery "Balkan"
Bitola is a city that is an eternal inspiration for artists and one of the most sung cities in the Balkans. What is Shirok Sokak today, were once Dembel-bazaar and Pekmez-pazar, i.e markets where the locals used to enjoy in the good company, deep conversations, food and drinks.
The first brewery was opened near the village of Bukovo in 1890/91. It had a capacity of 600 hectoliters, but due to lack of storage space and storage conditions for beer, its capacity was not fully used.
Also, the lack of skilled labor and competition from the Thessaloniki brewery, led to the closure of the brewery in 1895. During that period, a brewery was opened in the village of Magarevo, which was also closed shortly afterwards. Historical sources mention another brewery in Bitola that functioned in 1904 for the needs of which ice production was organized in the villages of Oreovo and Zlokukjani.
One of the most favorite places for relaxing in that period was the river Dragor and the famous Dembel-bazaar which was located opposite today’s Primary and Appellate Court in Bitola. The guests there spent the whole day in a good company, enjoying the freshness of the river, drinking tea and coffee with Turkish delight ‘’lokum’’ and playing board games. They sat all day, did nothing and just enjoyed themselves, so the guests were called “lazy-bones” which means ‘’dembeli’’ in Macedonian, whence the name of the bazaar. At the beginning of the 20th century, inns were opened in which alcohol was served, and often these lazy people accompanied by music and carriages returned home late at night.
The bazaar at that time was much larger compared to today’s and similar places for entertainment were opened in different locations.
The building today is located on Blvd. May 1, no.288, and in the past was also known as the hotel of Sotir Zdravkovski or the hotel of “Tiro Rogozinaro”. This dominant two-floor building with basement and ground floor rooms, was probably built in the last decades of the Ottoman period. The hotel was also known as the ‘’Balkan’’ Hotel, and during the Bulgarian rule as the ‘’Zagreb’’ Hotel. When the hotel industry fell into crisis and Sotir reoriented to opening inns, probably at that time there was also the famous bewery “Balkan”.
In 1943, after Italy’s capitulation, Italian captives were housed here, and then a platoon of partisan army. Somewhat later it was used by refugees from Aegean Macedonia. In the first years after World War II, the building was nationalized.