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Gjakova is one of the most cultural cities in Kosova. During the Ottoman period, Gjakova served as a trading center on the route between Shkodër and Istanbul. In the past, it was home to several prominent Albanian activists who played a role in the Prizren League in the late 19th century. The town was badly affected by the Kosovo war, suffering great physical destruction and large-scale human losses and human rights abuses.
Gjakova always had a very small Serbian population in comparison with other cities and was perceived by the Serbian regime to be a stronghold of Albanian nationalism. Given its strong former communist affiliation, perhaps surprisingly it is and has always been one of the most religiously diverse cities in Kosovo, with more than 20% of the population being Catholic. Gjakova is very rich regarding to the monuments of cultural heritage. Most of them are religious monuments. Gjakova’s current population is around 60,000 (nearly all of which is Albanian).
Historical monuments in Gjakova are divided into three main categories based on their cultural, religious and social context.
From the Turkish: Çarsia meaning marketplace Albanian, the Old Bazaar is a cordial market with small wooden shops since the 16th century, if not earlier, has been a center of craftsmen and handicrafts-men of different artisans. The Old Bazaar was considered as one of original bazaars in Albania.
Gjakova, as a town with Islamic main religious orientation, is characterized with a large number of mosques and Tekkes. The Hadum Mosque is the first mosque in Gjakova. The complex of the Hadum Mosque represents a cultural, educational and religious center of this area. It used to be comprised from a madrasah, a library and shops that were destroyed during the 1999 Kosovo War. Comprising a main prayer hall, ornate vestibule and minaret, the mosque is famous for its colorful interior and exterior. Its decorations display examples of the Islamic Albanian baroque style, used in the 19th century.
Sheikh Emin’s Tekke (Khanqah) was built in 1730 by Sheikh Emin, a famous architect who created many important architectural complexes in Gjakove. It belongs to the Sufi Muslim order (Sufism), specifically, Sad Tariqa. It is one of many religious monuments that represent the folk architecture in Gjakova. The whole complex with its “tyrbes” , houses, and fountains make this Tekke a monumental religious building.
Gjakova is characterized with these two main catholic churches, which are part of the cultural heritage. The Church of St. Anton of Padova (“Ndou”), was built in 1931, located in the Catholic neighborhood, next to the Saint Pal Church and Saint Pjeter Church. It was previously called the Patter Mila church (Emilio a Cless), built in 1882, but later this church was totally destroyed. During the Kosovo War in 1999 the church was subject to major damage done by Yugoslav Serb soldiers.
Terzive Bridge is a famous stone bridge built across the Erenik river. It served as a means for Gjakova’s esnafs/terezis (artisans) to go between Gjakova and Prizren. The bridge consists of eleven arches in half-arch shapes and ten discharging windows between them. The rock formation is 192.8 meters long and 5.1m wide. The bridge is under protection since 1962, for its historical, sociological, artistic, urban, and cultural value.
Clock Tower (Sahat Kulla) was built in the year 1597 (just after The Hadum Mosque) at a place known as “Field of the Clock” and it characterizes the rapid economic development of Gjakova at that time. In 1912, the tower was burned by Montenegrin military forces (part of the Balkan Wars), while the belfry was removed and transported to Montenegro. With sides 4.10m long and a height of about 30 meters, a new clock tower was built later near the foundations of the previous one. Constructed mainly of stone with the wooden observation area and the roof covered in lead, the clock tower is unique of its kind.