Charming Prizren in Kosovo

Prizren is the second largest town (95 000 in 2011) in Kosovo after Pristina the capital. I had read on numerous websites that it was a lovely, pretty town and well worth a visit. We wanted to travel in a North-West direction to do the Koman lake ferry (in Albania), and I was interested to visit Kosovo.

Where to stay- Prior Hotel

We spent three nights at an amazing, central hotel called Prior Hotel that cost us 34 euros per night including a lovely breakfast. We also got a full load of laundry done for 5 euros! The youngster at reception was very helpful with directions and tips on what to do and see.

Prizren is dominated by its Muslim population and we were there during Ramadan. So, we were warned to get to a restaurant by 630 pm in the evening as all places would be booked out from 730 pm onwards as they came out of their fast. We heard the call to prayer numerous times of the day, and the break of the fast was started each evening with a firework blasting into the sky!

Prizren had a great feel to it. The streets were bustling with people, the weather was warmer, and there were lots of people walking, drinking coffee, and eating ice cream. We also noticed the first leafy green of Spring!

There was some very beautiful art on building walls:

A small river divides Prizren. There are several bridges crossing the river and the one stone bridge with the Sinan Pasha mosque behind is a well-known instagrammable shot.

We climbed to the Kalaja Fortress which was a tough very steep climb, but so worthwhile. It has amazing views of the city. It was built in the 6th century to protect Prizren from foreign attacks and has many underground tunnels. There are 360-degree views of Prizren and more than 20 mosques and 2 churches can be seen from the fortress.

In the main street, there is the Sinan Pasha Mosque. I went inside, with a scarf covering my shoulders. The design of the mural on the ceiling is beautiful. The mosque was built in 1615 by Sofi Sinan Pasha, bey of Budim. Its minaret is the tallest structure in the city.

Prizren is known as the historic cultural center of Kosovo. There are many memorials to soldiers who fought in the war. According to Wikipedia, the town of Prizren did not suffer much during the Kosovo War but its surrounding municipalities were badly affected. Before the war, it was estimated that the municipality’s population was about 78% Kosovo Albanian, 5% Serb, and 17% from other communities. During the war, most of the Albanian population was intimated and forced to leave the town. Over one hundred houses were burned and many died. At the end of the war in June 1999, most of the Albanian population returned to Prizren and an estimated 97% of the Serbian minorities had left by October.

In March 2004 there was some further unrest at particular monuments and churches and these are now guarded by police (even today) and cannot be accessed. But we never felt unsafe, it was a peaceful, bustling town which we very much enjoyed over three days.

On our last night, we ate at Ambient which had a lovely view over the city. It’s well known for meat dishes. Adu tried some local spicy sausage.

We also went to the outskirts of the city looking for a geocache. There was a memorial that the man from the Prior Hotel told us was to honour the Albanian men who brought weapons over the mountains into Kosovo and were then killed.

The mountains surrounding the city, and then into Northern Albania were snow-capped and beautiful. There were also lovely trees covered in Spring flowers appearing as blobs of white.

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