Landmarks in Kosovo
Country trips to Kosovo lead to the western part of the Balkan Peninsula, to an area with an eventful history, and to a country whose natural scenery is continuously determined by mountain ranges and hills, between which fertile, often forested valleys and plains crossed by numerous watercourses as well as vineyards are located. Not to be forgotten are beautiful mountain lakes, the Batllava reservoir near Pristina, the Mirusha waterfalls and the source of the Drin, which rises up to 25 m from the ground near Peja. Due to its landscape, Kosovo is ideal for hiking… also because a unique flora and fauna rich in species can be observed along the way. Also impressive is the cave in the marble quarries near Gadime, which has large stalactites and stalagmites made of marble crystals or the Rugova Gorge near Peja. Finally, in winter, the landscape of Kosovo attracts winter sports enthusiasts. But Kosovo is also chosen as a travel destination by those interested in culture and history… even if many cultural sights or important cultural assets were destroyed during the years of war. The capital Pristina, located in the north-eastern region of Amselfeld, gives a rather extensive insight into the culture of the country: with various museums, relics from Ottoman rule, old sacred buildings as well as with modern architectural elements that contrast with the rest of the cityscape. Located in the southern region, Prizren was an important city in the Middle Ages and also has Ottoman influences, which exist here, among other things, next to an Orthodox monastery. Even older cities in Kosovo are Vuèitrn and the ancient mining workshop Municipium, which dates back to the 2nd century. Further historical evidence is the Illyrian necropolis in Mitrovica, the ruins of Ulpiana near Gracanica or the stone bridge near Bishtazhin, which was built in the 15th century and also has its piece of history in Kosovo.
Patriarchal Monastery of Peć
The famous Patriarchal Monastery of Peć has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006 and is located approx. 1 km west of the city of Peja. The monastery is considered a jewel of Serbian history and houses numerous art treasures of inestimable value as well as important tombs and shrines that date back to the 14th century. For this reason, the monastery is still one of the holiest places of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
The original appearance of the monastery was drastically changed in 2009 by Bishop Artemije. He had the monastery painted red and changed some of the ornaments on the monastery facade. This interference was sharply criticized not only by the local monument protection authorities, but also by UNESCO.
History of the monastery
The history of the Patriarch Monastery of Pec goes back to the 13th century when a new location was sought for the Serbian archbishopric. After a suitable plot of land was found near the Rugova Gorge, the construction of an Apostle Church began in the first half of the 13th century. Numerous additions followed over the centuries, such as: the Demetrius Church. In the 16th century, the individual buildings were then combined into a complex and have since formed a closed unit.
Access to the monastery
Due to the politically unstable situation in Kosovo, access to the monastery is well protected. In addition, extensive ID checks are carried out by the local police or KFOR before tourists are admitted to the monastery.
Sinan Pasha Mosque
The Sinan Pasha Mosque in Prizren
In the south-east of Serbia lies the sub-region of Kosovo, which declared its independence and existence as a democratic republic in 2008. The city of Prizren is located in the triangle formed by Montenegro and Albania. In the lively pedestrian zone of its old town, not far from the banks of the Bistrica, a 42 m high minaret rises up, visible from afar, which marks the location of the Sinan Pasha Mosque, a landmark of the city.
Kosovo’s largest Islamic church
The mosque is an important cultural monument of the Ottoman era. If you visit Pizren on your trip to Kosovo, also as a participant on a study trip, you should not miss this sight. It was built in the first 15 years of the 17th century on a square floor plan. Remnants of the wall of the destroyed Archangel Church and parts of its plastic jewelry are said to have been used for its construction. The entrance area consists of a vestibule supported by four columns, which was rebuilt after its destruction in the Second World War. The blue-gray trumpet dome rests on a tambour, an octagonal architectural element. Between 2007 and 2011 the mosque was completely restored.
The interior of the Ottoman building
When the Sinan Pasha Mosque is not being used as a prayer room, its interior can be visited at any time, taking into account the dress code. Her floor is covered with red, patterned carpets. The ceiling of the prayer room and the semi-arches below are decorated with colorful ornaments that date from the 19th century. Its walls, furnished with niches, as well as the prayer niche and the minibar, also fit harmoniously into the design of the interior of this old mosque, built by the Ottomans.
It is worth mentioning a white pavilion integrated into the outdoor area, which offers the possibility of ritual washing of feet.
Prishtina is the largest city and the capital of Kosovo. The big city has about 200,000 inhabitants and is considered the cultural, political and economic center of the area. Prishtina is rich in tourist attractions and sights, including monuments and architecturally impressive buildings. Some historically important buildings were unfortunately damaged during the war and therefore no longer shine in their old glory. This is especially true of the buildings that were built during the Ottoman War. A popular historical tourist attraction, some of which has been preserved despite the heavy destruction, is the Llap Mosque outside the city center. This mosque is one of the oldest architectural monuments and dates from 1470. It is characterized by a stalactite-shaped roof structure. During the Kosovo war in 1999 the mosque was largely destroyed by arson, but has since been renovated again
Life has become diverse and colorful in Prishtina. This is ensured by the modern bars, restaurants and cozy cafes, where mostly young people meet. Prishtina is a young city, two thirds of the population are under 30 years of age. It’s not just the bars, discos and restaurants that make a living from the young population. The trade is also at the center of the youth, stylish shops and trendy shops offer their goods.
In the center of Prishtina, the boulevard Nënë Tereza invites you to take a leisurely stroll. The spacious pedestrian zone is dedicated to Mother Teresa, the most famous Albanian woman, and is a popular meeting place for young and old. The residents of the city, but also many tourists, prefer the Café Dit’e Nat ‘or the restaurant “Soma”. The taverna “Sofra Bezi” is also worth a visit if you are looking for a cozy place to try traditional Albanian food. When the singers who regularly perform here pick up the microphone, the space between the tables and chairs is transformed into a dance floor. A little more upscale, but still very cheap, is the Tiffany. Tender veal with egg and yoghurt, crunchy salad and warm pita bread from the wood-fired oven are served here.
a border town in Kosovo
Anyone visiting the city of Prizren in the south of Kosovo is stepping onto historical ground there. 180,000 people live here at the foot of the Sar Planina and not far from the border crossing to Albania. Prizren was an important trading hub in the Balkans during the Ottoman era in the 15th century. The fact that the place has also developed into a cultural center can be seen in the numerous historical buildings in the old town, which is well worth seeing. Near the Sinan Pasha Mosque, which has recently been renovated, a number of buildings in the old town appear as if there had never been a war here.
A cathedral as a world heritage site
The majority of the inhabitants of Prizren profess the Muslim faith. Many of them have Albanian roots, but Bosniaks, Turks and Roma also live here. The Serbian Orthodox Church has been ennobled by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Bogorodica Ljeviska can be translated as “Church of the Mother of God”. Its Greek frescoes under the five domes are over six hundred years old and well preserved. The only catholic church in Prizren is the cathedral “Our Lady of Perpetual Help”. It dates from 1870 and was created at the instigation of Western European merchants who settled in this city.
The fortress towers over Prizren
A photogenic eye-catcher is the Ottoman stone arch bridge, which spans the Lumebardh River and, according to scientists, was built in the 15th century. It was completely destroyed by a flood in 1979, but was rebuilt a little later. The Kalaja Fortress towers over Prizren, a castle from the Middle Ages that is currently being restored with foreign help and to which a chair lift will lead in the future. Archaeologists recently found traces of the Bronze Age there. The city in Kosovo also has an archaeological museum, which is housed in a historic bathhouse from 1498. The exhibits there provide information about the development of the city from the Bronze Age to the present day.