The Clock Tower of Bitola, known as Saat Kula, is one of the landmarks of the Macedonian city of Bitola. The original clock tower was first built in 1664 by Mahmut Bey when the city was part of the Ottoman Empire and known as Manastır. Legend has it that the Turks collected 60,000 eggs from the surrounding villages and mixed the shells into the construction mortar. The Ottomans rebuilt the tower in the 1830s, in the same period when the Orthodox Church of St. Demetrius was being built.
The clock tower is 33 meters high, with sides of per 5.8 m. On all four sides are entrenched special metal plates mounted to the hands and inscribed with Roman numbers from one to twelve. During the Turkish era, the numbers used were Eastern Arabic numerals. On the uppermost part is a small dome, which offers a beautiful panorama of the city and the wider environment. In more recent times restoration was conducted on the tower, which has not changed its original appearance.
The clock tower was constructed with massive stone blocks. The main and also most decorative part of the clock tower is the part where you set the clock. The entrance to the clock tower encircled by large marble blocks is located on the north side and about a hundred stairs leads to the clock, to its peak of approximately 32 m. These steps lead to the top where in the past the big metal bells stood indicating the time. In 1927 its first clock mechanism was developed by the German company Konfage. People that were required to ring the bells were replaced with so called sajdzhii (clock keepers) who were responsible for maintaining the clock and the clock mechanism. At first there was white clock face with black numbers and hands, and was smaller than the present. This clock mechanism was replaced in 1936. 15 new bells (weighing 900 kg) were placed in the tower as a sign of gratitude for the construction of the Memorial Cemetery of German soldiers killed in the First World War.
In 1962 the mechanism was restored, and in 1970 a keyboard mechanism was installed to play new songs. The clock tower is one of the 180 towers in the world which has embedded such a mechanism.
In 2015, an old Turkish inscription dedicated to the tower, long thought lost, was rediscovered and reassembled at the nearby Gazi Hajdar Kadi Mosque. It was crafted by the renowned Ottoman calligrapher Kazasker Mustafa Izzet Efendi, whose work includes the giant medallions on the cornices of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.