The Bitola inscription is a medieval stone inscription written in Old Church Slavonic with Cyrillic letters. It was found in 1956 during the demolition of an old Ottoman mosque in the town of Bitola, Republic of Macedonia and it is now kept at the Institute and Museum of Bitola among the permanent exhibitions as a significant epigraphic monument, described as "a marble slab with Cyrillic letters of Ioan Vladislav from 1015/17". The text commemorates the fortification works on the fortress of Bitola under a certain Tsar Ivan. It is believed to date it from c. 1015 and the monarch in question is Tsar Ivan Vladislav of Bulgaria.
The text of the inscription is partially damaged. The text, with some conjectures made by Vladimir Moshin and Iordan Zaimov to reconstruct the damaged parts, reads as follows:
† Въ лѣто Ѕ ҃Ф ҃К ҃Г ҃ отъ створенїа мира обнови сѧ съ градь зидаемъ и дѣлаемъ Їѡаном самодрьжъцемъ блъгарьскомь и помощїѫ и молїтвамї прѣс ҃тыѧ влад ҃чицѧ нашеѧ Б ҃чѧ ї въз()стѫпенїе І ҃В ҃ i връховънюю ап ҃лъсъ же градь дѣлань бысть на ѹбѣжище и на сп҃сенѥ ї на жизнь бльгаромъ начѧть же бысть градь сь Битола м ҃ца окто ҃вра въ К ҃. Конъчѣ же сѧ м ҃ца ... исходѧща съ самодрьжъць быстъ бльгарїнь родомь ѹнѹкъ Николы же ї Риѱимиѧ благовѣрьнѹ сынь Арона Самоила же брата сѫща ц ҃рѣ самодрьжавьнаго ꙗже i разбїсте въ Щїпонѣ грьчьскѫ воїскѫ ц ҃рѣ Васїлїа кде же взѧто бы злато ... фоѧ съжев ... ц҃рь разбїенъ бы ц҃рѣмь Васїлїемь Ѕ ҃Ф ҃К ҃В ҃ г. лтѣ оть створенїѧ мира ... їѹ съп() лѣтѹ семѹ и сходѧщѹ
In the year [1015/1016?] since the creation of the world, this fortress, built and made by Ivan, Tsar of Bulgaria, was renewed with the help and the prayers of Our Most Holy Lady and through the intercession of her twelve supreme Apostles. The fortress was built as a haven and for the salvation of the lives of the Bulgarians. The work on the fortress of Bitola commenced on the twentieth day of October and ended on the [...] This Tsar was Bulgarian by birth, grandson of the pious Nikola and Ripsimia, son of Aaron, who was brother of Samuil, Tsar of Bulgaria, the two who routed the Greek army of Emperor Basil II at Stipone where gold was taken [...] and in [...] this Tsar was defeated by Emperor Basil in 6522 (1014) since the creation of the world in Klyutch and died at the end of the summer.
In the Republic of Macedonia any link between the Cometopuli and the First Bulgarian Empire is denied. Because of that the historical and political importance of the inscription was the reason for a controversial event there. In 2006 the French consulate in Bitola sponsored and prepared a tourist catalogue of the town and printed on its front cover the entire text of the inscription, with the label Bulgarian clearly visible on it. News about it had spread prior to the official presentation of the catalogue and was a cause for confusion among the officials of the Bitola municipality. The French consulat was warned, the printing of the new catalogue was stopped and the photo on the cover was changed.
^Bŭlgarski ezik, Institut za bŭlgarski ezik (Bŭlgarska akademiia na naukite) 1981, p. 372.
^Срђан Пириватрић, „Самуилова држава. Обим и карактер“, Византолошки институт Српске академије науке и уметности, посебна издања књига 21, Београд, 1997, стр. 183.
^Мошин, Владимир. Битољска плоча из 1017. год. // Македонски jазик, ХVІІ, 1966, с. 51-61
^Заимов, Йордан. Битолският надпис на цар Иван Владислав, самодържец български. Епиграфско изследване, София 1970 For criticism of this reconstruction, see: Lunt, Horace G. (1972): [review of Zaimov]. Slavic Review 31: 499.
^The reconstruction of the Macedonian scientist Ugrinova-Skalovska is very similar to the recunstruction made by Russian/Yugoslavian Moshin and Bulgarian Zaimov - Угриновска-Скаловска, Радмила. Записи и летописи. Скопје 1975. 43-44