Cultural Heritage and Gender: On the Traces of Women’s Prayer Space in Bitola Mosques


Women’s attendance to the mosque affected the structure, essence, and architectural entity of the building in the form of women’s prayer space. This research analysed the traces of women’s section in historic mosques of Bitola, with an emphasis on development and comparative analysis of it according to cultural heritage and gender issues. Such an inquisitive analysis is important not only for correct preservation interventions but also for the understanding of social, cultural, and religious dimensions of gendered space divisions in mosque activities. Located in south western part of Macedonia, Bitola has a long history including more than five hundred years of ruling under Ottoman Empire. The rapid Islamic predominance in the region had brought about construction of mosques for the believers. Yet, in-situ analysis, oral history, and literature reviews showed that women were separated in the mosques either in their galleries or on the same floor with men but with a partition such as curtains. In addition to those analyses, considering the smaller, separated, or inferior conditions of spaces allocated for women in case study historic mosques of Bitola, there is little indication that mosque attendance today is a frequent practice of women in the city, if not in earlier times.