GJAKOVA (Gjakovë)

The city is centrally located in the Dukagjin Valley of western Kosovo, with equal distance between the cities of Prizren to the south and Peja to the north. It also has a historic link to the Gjakova Highlands, now across the border in northern Albania. It was established as a trading town around 1485. In the old town, you will find the oldest surviving bazaar in Kosovo and reputedly the longest in the Balkans, the Čaršija e Madhe, which dates from the 15th century, though it was badly damaged in the Kosovo War and was largely rebuilt afterward. While it might once have matched many people’s impressions of a bazaar with traders hawking piles of spices, today things are different. The grand structure is now lined with cafes and bars, although the southern section retains a few shops. Anyway, the tradesman spirit and some of the trades practiced still remain in the city. Gjakova was badly hit by the Kosovo War when around 75% of the town’s population was driven out by the Serb Army, and many of the city’s homes and important monuments were burnt down or otherwise destroyed. But gorgeous Hadum mosque somehow managed to survive the terrible damage. Its striking arabesques and impressive interior stonework are two of the town’s most important sights. The building dates from the end of the 16th century and is a classic example of early Islamic architecture in the Balkans.

Parking location – Gjakova: 42.387491N 20.434085E (🚻)