Gjakova is a very beautiful place in southeastern Kosovo. It is situated 360 m high above the sea level and is a must to visit place including center and villages around. Gjakova Municipality, the main town and its 84 villages, cover an area of 512 km2. Approximately 150.000 people live in this municipality, 90.000 in town and around 60.000 in villages. It has a peculiar climate with rainfalls during the winter and dryness during the summer.
Krena is a river that crosses through the whole town, it is quite clean and there is water especially during the rainy seasons. Ereniku, Drini and Lukaçi are rivers that also cross through this area.
According to legend the place where today Gjakova lays used to be Jak Vujajs property that was convinced by a priest to give the land in order Hadumis mosque to be built, and then the whole city. In the beginning Gjakova was a village of a great trade importance. Its relevant position, the ancient road Via di Zenta crossed through Gjakova, enabled it to trade in with many important countries, starting from Istanbul to Shkodër, and other Balkan important centers.
As a city it was constituted during the Ottoman Empire.
From the beginning Gjakova was important trade where goods from Malësi (highland) were interchanged with goods from Dukagjini but also with other places where they sell handcrafts and bought salt, sugar, cloths est.
Craftsmanship was highly developed and in the name of two most successful ones, Tabakët dhe Terziajt, there are bridge named after them, even today they are in good condition.
During the last war in 1999, Gjakova was quite damaged economically, there were lack of investments right after and most of social enterprises are in the list to privatize. Besides, very interesting ground to be explored, with its uniqueness that is not common for other places, quite rich culturally and full of love that its people preserve for it.
Gjakova is easily accessible from other cities, and there are regular means of transport. Bus lines are regular from Prishtina to Gjakova and vice versa, in this 83 km distance and you journey will last approximately 1 ½ h.
You can also connect from Prizren and Peja with regular buses, 40 min away each. If you plan to go there by taxi this will cost nearly 50-70 euros including the way back.
Tips within town typically cost 2-3 euros but taking into account the potential to explore its recommended to walk through the city because its effortless.
Its a walkway that makes your trip dreamy like a fairytale. Roads in the center walk you through the monuments like a guide that makes you feel a good explorer. For passionate walker passing though the villages is also possible and a lot of great sceneries will accompany you.
For more information see table (to be finished)
In the Northern part of Gjakova there is an army airport that may serve also for citizens in the near future.
It is worth starting the journey from Çarshia in Ismail Qemali Street. This cordial market with small wooden shops since the XVI century, if not earlier, has been a center of craftsmen and handicraftsmen of different artisans.
This market of a great economic value for the city of Gjakova was burnt to the ground during the 1999 war, but afterwards it was rebuilt in the same style and today it has been revived. In the shops of this market you can find today mostly imported goods since the works of local craftsmen are gradually vanishing. However there are still clock shops (??), blacksmith, jewelers, etc. in every step of the Çarshia Street there are historical monuments each with their own story behind.
At the top of Çarshia the Tower of Abdullah Dreni (Kulla e Abdullah Drenit) is to be found which also serves as Historical Museum. Close to the Museum is the Tekke of Sheh Emini (Teqja e Sheh Eminit). This Tekke belongs to the sect of Dervish Ra-fai, who has a very distinct ritual whereby in a moment of psychological trance they pierce their body, mainly the face, without feeling any pain. The annual holiday of 21 March of this sect is open for public. Walking through this street, besides monuments of importance one can also taste the traditional local food at Çarshia e Jupave. After tasting the delicious local food you might also see the Big Tekke located in the same street which has a low height and it is somehow spread over a space. The Big Tekke has a branch in Prizren. To complete the pleasant story of this city visit the Ethnographic Museum in Mother Theresa Street built in 1835. The Tower of Tasum Beu built in 18-19 century is found in the same street.
In the center of Çarshia there is Xhamia e Hadumve, the oldest mosque in the city and also one of the first objects built there, in the last decade of XVI century, with which the story of Gjakova begins. Not very far from the Xhamia e Hadumve two old houses are to be found with wooden roofs Hani i Vjetër and Hani i Haraqisë (The Old Inn and Haraçia Inn). Built in 17-18 centuries they served is Inns for tradesmen. Besides being beautiful they are worth visiting also for the good food and other services they offer. Close to Han there is Tekke e Bektashive (Bektashi Tekke). At the end of bazaar in Ismail Qemali Street there is Xhamia e Mulla Isufit (The Mullah Isufi Mosque). Close to this mosque there is also Kisha e Shën Palit dhe Pjetrit (Saint Pauls and Peters church) as well as Ura e Tabakve (The Tabak Bridge) through which the river Krena passes. In Çabrati Street it is worth visiting two old houses, the house of Beqir Haxhibeqiri and that of Mazllom Zherka, distinguished by wooden decorations and interior.
Unique in Gjakova are families that own tekkes and mosques like for example Kumars mosque and tekke. They are very hospitable but you shout be polite and ask if they mind taking pictures. The way leads you to Çabrat, a place up the hill, with green fields and great point to view the whole city.