"Prizren 2008" Top 5 Page for this destination Prizren by maykal
Prizren Travel Guide: 79 reviews and 226 photos
Prizren with its Ottoman buildings was the main reason I became interested in Kosovo, and it certainly lived up to expectations.
It was a cold, grey day when we boarded a bus from Prishtina, hoping the rain would stay off for a few hours at least. Despite Kosovo only being small, over in Prizren rain was not an issue, so we could enjoy wandering the cobbled streets. After a filling lunch of kofte from a Turkish restaurant on the square, we set off up the hill towards the castle on the hill.
Your first view of Prizren's historic city centre is impressive, with red tiled roofs strewn across a hill, old Ottoman houses with cafes lining the river banks, an ancient stone bridge over a fast-flowing mountain river. It looks a picture of tolerance too, with minarets competing with church towers across the skyline. But look a bit closer and all is not as it first seems.
In 2004, riots saw the houses in the Serbian hillside quarter ransacked, burnt and destroyed, churches belonging to the Orthodox church gutted, precious cultural icons and frescoes ruined. Today, those houses are fenced off, barbed wire and stern notices warning against trespassing. The Hrista Spasitelja (St Saviour) church which looks relatively intact from down below, has no windows, no roof, and is now a KFOR base. To reach the castle, a path leads between this church and the fenced off Serbian area, a surreal experience, eerie and sad, yet ultimately worth it for the superb views from the castle (ruined also, but not from the recent conflicts)
Despite all the barbed wire, burnt out houses and KFOR presence on the street, Prizren is a buzzing lively city. Cafes and bars, some of them as trendy as they come, fill the narrow streets around the Shadervan fountain. A nice surprise for me was the large Turkish community, the Turkish restaurants, and the fact that nearly everyone in Prizren can speak a little Turkish...after struggling to get my tongue around Albanian in Prishtina, it was a welcome relief not to have to rely on finding English speakers.
One day in Prizren was not enough for me. Once my travel companion had left for Istanbul, I decided to return to Prizren for a few days on my way to Albania, and saw the city in a much more relaxed way. It was also a weekend, and a sunny one at that, so the square was thronging with people, every cafe bursting at the seams. In fact, on saturday night there were so many people in the square parading up and down, I did think there might have been some sort of political demonstration about to happen...but no, they were all just cafe-hopping.
Prizren makes a great day trip from Prishtina, and an even better place to spend a couple of days. Although it is hard to ignore the damage from the riots, the fenced off churches and monasteries are being rebuilt and renovated. With the old centre stretching along both sides of the river, castles, mosques, hammams, tekkes (Sufi meeting places) and museums, riverside walks/hikes and snow-capped mountains in the distance, Prizren is an up and coming city that could well become a prime tourist hotspot in the future.
This page is just being built...the small number of tips below is just the start...check back later ;@P
- Pros:Old town, cafes, Turkish food, relaxed atmosphere, lots to see
- Cons:Ruined Serbian quarters
Prizren has many many cafes and bars. Actually, there's not much difference between the two, as both seem to stay open... more travel advice
On Shadervan Square, the Shehzade restaurant is only small, but serves the best kofte (qyfte in Albanian, meatballs)... more travel advice
maykal's Related Pages
Prizren Travel Guide
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- "Prizren - Kosovo's cultural capital"
- "Prizren 2008"
- "Prizren, Kosovo"
- "Prizren-Kosova's 2. largest city"
- "A flash on the countryside"
- "Prizren, Kosovo"
- "A Nice Break From Pristina : Prizren"
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