Close to the town are the ruins of ancient Heraclea Lyncestis (founded by Philip II of Macedonia in 4th c. BC), on the famous Roman road, the Via Egnatia, linking Rome with Salonika via southern Italy and Albania.
First mentioned in the 10th century, Bitola was a major commercial center during the period of Ottoman Turkish rule (1382-1913). It was badly damaged during World War I but retains some of its Muslim heritage. Buildings of architectural merit in Bitola include the Isak mosque (15th c.), the Ajdar- Gazi mosque (14th c.) and the old Turkish covered market - the Bezistan.
A market center for the adjacent fertile plain, Bitola is also an industrial city. Like Skopje, Bitola is a university town. The population of Bitola is currently close to 100,000 people.