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Reflecting growing diversity

Categories: Cultural Diversity

Brezovica

Brezovica

Visiting the Brezovica Monument on the slopes of the Šar Mountains is a unique experience for nature lovers and those willing to explore the cultural sites and monuments dating from medieval times. Mountainous flora abounds with almost two thousand species, out of which as many as 18 are impossible to find anywhere on the planet except here. For example, the plant that has survived since ancient times is known as Natalia Ramonda and it is a flower that became a national symbol of the Day of Reconciliation in the First World War and has an incredible power to "resurrect" even after it dries completely. Further to this, the Šar Mountain not only attracts with its natural beauty, but its slopes, valleys, river banks and thick forests are like a treasure chest hiding the remnants dating from different historic times and left by numerous conquerors who had crossed over this area during the centuries, including the Ancient Roman, Byzantine and medieval periods.

As many as 35 churches and monasteries were built on its slopes in the period from the 12th to the 16th century - such as the monastery of St. Peter of Corinth and St. Archangels (14th century) while a nearby city of Prizren is an impressive illustration of the rich history and cultural diversity of the area surrounding the Šar Mountain. The Brezovica Monument is some 40 km away from these fascinating cultural sites in Prizren (known also as the Museum - city) which are all worth exploring for their rich cultural diversity and the legacy of outstanding architectural artistry and workmanship.   The city itself is like an open air museum, picturesque with narrow streets lined up with churches, mosques, numerous old houses, traditional artisan workshops, ancient Turkish baths. It has been a center of trade and a home to a large number of craftsmen, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, riflemen, swordsmen.

The three main cultural heritage symbols of the city are a must see sites:  the Church of the Mother of God Ljeviska (1306), The church of Saint George (1887), the Sinan Pasha Mosque (1615), the Stone Bridge and the Fountain of Shadrvan.

The Church of the Mother of God Ljeviska

This church was built in 1306 by King Mitutin on the site of a previous Byzantine church dedicated to Theotokos Eleusa, whose Greek name ("Mother of God of Tenderness") has been preserved and simply translated into Serbo-Croatian as Bogorodica Ljeviška. The design and construction work was carried out by the best artisans of the "King Milutin's Court School". The church was transformed into a mosque during the Ottoman period with the addition of a minaret, the closing of several windows and the masking of frescoes. It has been a Serbian Orthodox place of worship again since 1913, whilst ome of the original frescoes were found during restoration work in the 1950s. This early 14th century Serbian Orthodox church is one of four "medieval monuments in Kosovo*" listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.The frescoes in the church contain the following verses in Arabic: "The pupil of my eye is the nest to your beauty".

St. George Church (Hram Svetog Djordja)

Close to Mother God Ljeviska church is another outstanding Orthodox cultural monument - The St. George Church (Synod, built in 1887), located in the old part of the town, in the Bazaar quarters. It is a three-nave church, constructed in chiselled stones connected in lime plaster, while the bell tower is built in brick, connected in lime plaster. The church has two entrances, the main entry from the western side and one entry from the southern side. On the eastern side, there is a semi-circular apse, while in the western and southern parts, close to entries, there are awnings, supported on stone columns cut in circular shapes. Within the church complex, there is also the old Church of St. George – Runovic. The building was earlier used as a Russian Consulate during the 19th century, a dormitory and a guesthouse. During the period 2005-2010, several restoration interventions were made, wall stones were repaired and cleaned, a new wooden roofing was installed, electrical installations replaced, the interior was renovated and the bells were mantled, while the central dormitory and guesthouse were renovated. Today this church is the main place of gathering for local ethnic Serb population especially for marking the family saint day – St George Day (Djurdjevdan). 

The Sinan Pasha Mosque

The Sinan Pasha Mosque is located in the historical centre of Prizren. It was built in 1615 by Sofi Sinan Pasha – a distinguished person of knowledge, a person of important rank in the Ottoman administration. Due its outstanding architectural design and interior decorations, the Sinan Pasha Mosque represents one of the most characteristic monuments of Prizren. The mosque is built over an elevated foundation, the access of which is provided on its northern side, by a stone-carved staircase. Its design layout is rectangular, with a niche in its south-eastern side, which makes the mosque different from other mosques in Kosovo*. It is made of river stones that can be found in the surrounding area, whilst the minaret of the mosque is built in pumice stones, in a rectangular foundation and a circular structure. In front of the main entrance, there is an open vestibule, worked in stone. The vestibule has three cupolas covered in lead sheeting, supported in rock columns, at a circular foundation. The interior is full of sunlight due to highly positioned levelled windows, with a cupola painted in floral motives in three stages. The two first stages of mural paintings come from the 16th-17th century, worked in the “alsecco” technique, while the third stage pertains to the 19th century, worked in Baroque style, dominated by blue motives. 

Stone bridge and Shadrvan fountains

Prizren is surrounded by high mountains which are streaming with clean and fresh waters. Each street in this city has its own fountain – a place designed to take a rest and have fresh water to drink. It was as early as in 1874 when 150 fountains were built on different locations in this city. Most of the fountains were built during the Turkish rule, as a part of the respect for water cherished by the Muslim population before attending the religious service in the mosque (abdest). Therefore, the most famous fountains designed as a specific cultural heritage sites in Prizren are those built near the mosques and in the old town area, such as: the “Bimbash” fountain, "The Six Fountains," "Topokli," "The Fountain in Shadrvan," the "Beledija" fountain, the "Sinan Pasha mosque" fountain and others.
The word shadrvan of Persian origin and often used in poetry and in traditional “sevdah” songs in the Balkans, denotes a source of fresh water or a fountain usually built in front of the mosques, in the heart of the cities or the main squares. The fountains of Shadrvan in Prizren flow with clear drinking water and old cobblestones covering the square. Shadrvan is positioned in front of a stone bridge on one side, with a tall fortress on the top on the other, in the proximity of the Sinan Pasha's mosque and the church of St. George, Shadrvan has become one of the attractions of the city Prizren, symbolizing the cultural and religious diversity. Shadrvan today is the heart of the city – the meeting point for the young people and a place for getting together and for refreshment. It is a popular venue for   intercultural, cultural and entertainment events taking place almost every day, including on local and national holidays. It is not by chance that a local proverb has become a legend:  whoever drinks water from the fountain only once, will surely return to Prizren.

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