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Europe Central and Eastern Europe Kosovo

Peja

Stories and Photos from my travels to Peja.

Destination 》EuropeCentral and Eastern Europe  》Kosovo

Year Visited: 2018 – September

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After few days in Pristina, the capital city of Kosovo, we continued our backpacking through the Balkans journey towards south, taking a bus to Peja, an ancient city of Kosovo.

Peja (Pejë in Albenian and Peć in Serbian) a beautiful town in the western Kosovo lies on a small tributary of the Beli Drim River, the town is well known for its mosques, narrow streets, and old Turkish houses. The town, including much of the economic infrastructure, was badly damaged during fighting in the 1990s (including NATO aerial bombing in 1999) and a massive outbreak of ethnic violence in 2004.

Pejë was especially important as a religious center; from about 1253 to 1766, with brief interruptions, it was the chief see of the Orthodox Church of Serbia. The patriarchal monastery, originally established during 13th century, repeatedly ravaged and restored, consists of four churches with fine frescoes, a library, and a treasury. About 12 miles (19 km) south of Pejë is the Dečani (Deçan) Monastery (1327–35), which has more than 1,000 frescoes. Both monasteries were designated UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2004.

We made Peja our base for few days and travel around. Photos below are from our few days stay in Peja.

Welcome to Peja (Pejë in Albenian and Peć in Serbian)! We learned that every city in Kosovo has three names, one each in Serbian, Albanian and English.
Beautiful Rainbow over Bazaar of Peć (Peja). The Market was established during Ottoman rule and was completely destroyed at least twice, once during the Italian occupation in 1943, and once during the Kosovo War (1998–99). The market was fully rebuilt after the Kosovo War, according to the historical Ottoman architecture.
A five-star hotel overlooking the main city square has flags of every country that recognize Kosovo as an Independent country.
Albanian pride is on display everywhere in Kosovo, the double-headed eagle on a blood-red background filling signs and banners in the streets. There are far more Albanian flags in Kosovo than Kosovar flags.
Xhamia Sahat Kulla, a mosque in Peja, standing here for last 300+ years.
A very beautiful day in Peja.
Peja is surrounded by mountains.

The Patriarchate of Peć Monastery, is a medieval Serbian Orthodox monastery situated by the Peć Bistrica, at the entrance of the Rugova Canyon. The monastery was originally built in the 13th century and was expanded during the 14th century when it became the residence of Serbian Archbishops. The Monastery complex consists of several churches, and during medieval and early modern times it was also used as mausoleum of Serbian archbishops and patriarchs. The Monastery is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006.

The bell tower and old Byzantine ruins at Patriarchate of Pec.
Church of the Holy Apostles and the Bell tower at the Patriarchate of Peć Monastery.
Church of the Holy Apostles at the Patriarchate of Peć Monastery.
The Bell tower at the Patriarchate of Peć Monastery.
Church of the Holy Apostles. Looking from the entrance towards the iconostasis and the sanctuary
A monumental narthex In front of the three main churches. Frescoes from 1330 to 1565.
Interior of the Holy Apostles Church 13th c.
The tomb of Archbishop Daniel, 14th c.
Rakija (Raki) made by monks of Patriarchate of Peć Monastery.
The monastery has very peaceful location, situated by the Peć Bistrica
Raul made a new local friend, even street dogs of Kosovo are very friendly, they followed us many times during our hikes.

From Peja we took a bus to the town of Dečan to visit Decani Monastery. The Visoki Dečani Monastery was built between 1327 and 1335 by the Serbian medieval king St. Stephen of Decani and was dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord in 1335. The monastery is settled in the picturesque valley of the Bistrica river surrounded by the mountains and forests of the Prokletije mountain range. It is the largest and best preserved medieval monastery in Kosovo.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dečani possesses a unique church constructed in a mixture of Romanic, Gothic and Byzantine styles, with more than 1000 preserved original frescoes.

All monasteries in Kosovo are protected by the Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo. When you visit any monastery listed in UNESCO World Heritage site, your passport will be checked before allowing you to enter the site. At the Decani Monastery, your passport will be held at the main gate by KFOR, as there have been five significant attacks and near miss attacks on the monastery since 1999.

The Dečani Monastery is settled in the picturesque valley of the Bistrica river surrounded by the mountains and forests of the Prokletije mountain range.
All monasteries in Kosovo are protected by the Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo. At the Decani Monastery, your passport will be held at the main gate by KFOR, as there have been five significant attacks and near miss attacks on the monastery since 1999.
The main entrance of Dečani Monastery.
The Dečani Monastery
The Dečani Monastery.
The fountain with pure spring water flows peacefully, as it has for centuries.
Look at the left most fresco, Last Judgment – Christ Pantocrator is carrying the sword, a rare iconographic depiction of Jesus.
Frescoes on the east wall of central Narthex.

From Peja we hitchhiked to Bogë, a small mountainous village and a holiday resort in Rugova Vallery of the Albanian Alps mountain range. A beautiful day spent in Nature, a highly recommended place to visit if you are in Peja.

Driving through Rugova Canyon.
It’s a very quite town, we were the only tourists in the town for that day.
Wooden cabins for rent in the resort town of Bogë.
Very upscale holiday chalets available for rent.
One of the upscale hotel in Bogë, the only one that had a restaurant in the town. You may have noticed Albanian and USA flags in background.
This gentlemen gave us a ride in his work truck. This was our first hitchhiking (not-paid) experience. He is an engineer living in Pristina, building few mountain chalets for rent.
This gentleman gave us a ride from Bogë to Peja in his Mercedes, he went out of his way to show us some tourists places on the way back. The locals we encountered during our a week-long stay in Kosovo, were some of the friendliest people we have met during our travels.
Got to have a Peja, a locally brewed beer, while we were in the town.

After few days in Peja, we continued our backpacking through the Balkans journey towards south, taking a bus to Prizren, the most historical city of Kosovo.

By Window on The World

In May 2017, 23 days before I was going to complete 50 years, grabbed an opportunity and took an early retirement.. Picked up a backpack and traveling ever since.. Love to travel around the world, experience different culture, local cuisine & drinks .. and take pictures.. so far been to 108 countries and still counting...

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