Europe

20 hours of bliss in Prizren: A travel guide to make the most out of your day in Kosovo’s capital of Culture.

I arrived in Prizren on a hot day in late May from a overly complicated bus journey from Shkodër in Albania. It took a total of 8 hours including 2 hours of transit in Tirana and a lot of miscommunication. However, I made my way into Kosovo, country number 74, 2 years later than planned, I was happy. I arrived at 6 pm in the bus station and walked around 10-15 minutes to get to my hostel – Driza House.

As i walked from the bus station to the hostel, I felt the same sense of happiness that I felt when I arrived  in Sarajevo. At first I could not understand why, but then I realised, it seemed familiar, because it actually looked like Sarajevo. With the river flowing through the centre of town, the churches, the mosques, the old town, the cobbled streets, the lively music and welcoming people- it was all too familiar. Here are 8 tips to make the most out of your time in Prizren. 

1. Accomodation:  I think an integral part of my my love for Prizren is the hostel I stayed in. I don’t tend to write raving reviews about places I have stayed in, in fact, I believe this is my first time writing about a hostel in details in my blog but I have to write about Driza’s house. This hostel felt like home. It is impeccably clean, has bunk beds fitted with bed lamps and plugs, plus there is a curtain for you to ensure privacy. The rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated and the breakfast is lovely, for 8 euros a night, its a bargain! Its run by a lovely young couple who are friendly, kind and big travel lovers themselves! I suggest you book directly through their website to avail their 10% discount! 🙂 Link here

2. Food: Kosovar food, much like Albanian food is very much meat based. You will find all the traditional balkan food like burek, grilled meat, stuffed peppers and so on. But since I was a vegetarian, I pretty much lived on burek, potatoes and pizza during my time in the balkans. In Prizren, I ate a fresh, delicious vegetarian pizza, in a restaurant by the main river for 3 Euros. There are plenty of options to eat in the restaurants that dot the river that divides the city. 

3. The Oldest Cinema in the Balkans: One of the oldest cinemas in the Balkans is housed in Prizren. The cinema theatre called the Lumbhardi stood dilapidated at one point having stood the test of time. However, Kosovars, particularly from Prizren came together to save it from privatisation and renovate it. Today it boasts an indoor and open air Cinema and a lovely cafe where you can sit with friends and have a beer or a coffee under the starry night sky. 

4. The Sinan Pasha mosque: The sinan pasha mosque is a beautiful landmark situated on the main street in Prizren Kosovo. Built in 1615 in ottoman style, this mosque is beautiful! I have nothing but love for this mosque, in fact since it was Ramadan, I went into this mosque and prayed there – filled me with a sense of peace.

5.  Our Lady of Ljeviš: This beautiful structure is a 14th-century Serbian Orthodox church in Kosovo. Built on the ruins of a byzantine church, this church was converted to a mosque during the Ottoman Empire and then back into a church in the early 20th century. Today it is on the list of UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites in danger and can only be seen from the outside.

6. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour: This is yet another beautiful place of worship in the form of a Roman Catholic cathedral in Prizren, Kosovo, seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Prizren – Priština. The Cathedral was commissioned in 1870 by Dario Bucciarelli, Archbishop of Skopje. Its clocktower was built by Thomas Glasnovic, a Croatian monk and architect. The cathedral features frescoes in the north side of the church and is relatively pretty. 

 7. Kalaja Fortress: Also known as the Prizren Fortress is possibly my favourite place in Prizren. This fortress is an old medical structure which once served as the capital of the Serbian Empire. The first fort can be dated as far back as the Byzantine empire and has since been built, expanded, destroyed and restored by many. The hike up to the Kalaja Fortress is relatively easy and beautiful. And from the top of the fortress you see a beautiful sight of the whole city, with the river flowing through it and the many old buildings that Prizren is known for. 

8. Docufest: This international documentary festival takes place in Prizren every year around August and features documentaries from around the world! It started in 2002 by a group of friends and has now expanded into a festival which screens documentaries for a week from around the world – thereby attracting tourists, artists and musicians from across the world. I was unable to visit this last year as i was in Bali but it is top of my list of events to take part in, in the coming years. 

N.B: As a Bangladeshi passport holder, I cannot complete this article without a little bit about the visa regulations. Bangladeshis do need a visa to visit Kosovo, but if you have a valid multiple entry American, British or Schengen visa, you can enter the country without anything additional. 

Maliha Fairooz is a 28-year-old Bangladeshi solo traveller, who has travelled to 84 countries, on a Bangladeshi passport. Through her blog www.maliharoundtheworld.com she shares her experience of travelling as a brown, Muslim, Bangladeshi woman while simultaneously encouraging a culture of travel amongst Bangladeshi youth.

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