Gjakova

Gjakova/Gjakovë (Albanian) is a city in western Kosovo with about 101,000 inhabitants.

Understand

The Gjakova Grand Bazaar

Gjakova is a center of culture and learning in Kosovo. It was established as a trading town, sporting the largest bazaar in the Balkans, called Çarshia e Madhe (the Grand Bazaar). The tradesmanship spirit and some of the trades practiced still remain in the city. The city is centrally located in the Dukagjin Valley of western Kosovo, 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.

The townspeople pride themselves in their sense of town music practiced, humour and sarcasm which distinguish it from the rest of Kosovo and enforce the local character. Gjakova has contributed several important leaders to the history of Kosovo, such as WWII partisan and post-war leader Fadil Hoxha and communist Yugsolav Presidency Chairman Mahmut Bakalli, as well as to the cultural scene.

Gjakova was badly hit by the Kosovo War of 199899, fought between Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas demanding the independence of Kosovo and Serbian forces. Around 75% of town's population was driven out by the Serb Army during the war, and many of the city's homes and important monuments were burnt down or otherwise destroyed. After the war, much of town's ethnic Albanian inhabitants returned (who make up to 98% of the population). Many of the stores in the old-town area, locally known as Çarshia e Madhe, were rebuilt.

While in Gjakova, make sure you talk to the locals, especially the young ones, since they're more proficient in English. And you will hear a story about every corner of the city.

The town has sizable Diasporas in Switzerland, Germany and Belgium. So especially during the summer months you will see many expensive foreign cars from these countries circling around the town. The foreign family members come here for vacation as well as for marriages because this way the whole family can join the wedding. The Çarshia e Madhe has many shops specialized in marriages.

Tourist information

Get in

By bus

The inter-city bus station is at the entry of the town when coming from Prishtina, with easy access to the town.

If you are in Prishtina, a bus heads to Gjakova every half an hour (€4, 1h30mins), also from Prizren (€2, 1h) and from Peja (€2, 40mins) every 15 minutes.

If you are in Tirana, there are buses available directly to Gjakova, which leave at 6 am and 3 pm, and costing around €15.

If you are in Shkodra you can have an adventurous route via Lake Koman. Get a furgon (minivan) at 6 am from Shkodra to Koman. There you can catch the passenger or car ferry to Fierze, then get a furgon to Bajram Curri and another furgon to Gjakova, arriving around mid-day in Gjakova.

If you are in Skopje, take the bus going either to Prishtina or Prizren, then from there take another bus to Gjakova.

By plane

Prishtina International Airport Adem Jashari (IATA: PRN) is 65 km away from Gjakova. There you can get a taxi to the roundabout in Fushë Kosovë on the outskirt of Prishtina and wait there for the Gjakova bus passing by from Prishtina.

By car

From Prishtina Gjakova is 90 km away on a partly highway road. The road from Montenegro will take you first to Peja, Gjakova is another 36 km to the south. If you come from Albania, the easiest way is through the highway Durres - Kukes - Prizren, then taking the Gjakova exit with another 25 km on the Prizren-Gjakova regional road.

Get around

Since the city is not that big, the best way to get to see it is by walking. Taxis are quite cheap, you can get around the city for €2-3 tops.

By bike

Gjakova is the bike capital of Kosovo, and quite bikable.

See

Some of the monuments had to be repaired after the destruction during the war. So enjoy the walk through the nice old town. There you should visit the guesthouse/restaurant Hani i Haraqisë which sits on a small street with shops specialized in woodwork. The church and the main Hadum Mosque have also been rebuilt and can be visited (opening times change).

The Grand Bazaar

The Haraqia Inn

Hani i Haraqisë, Gjakova


Religious monuments

Religious harmony in Gjakova

Mosques

Hadum Mosque

Churches

Tekkes

Historical Monuments

Bridges

Traditional Houses

Etnographic Museum in Gjakova

The houses below are characterized by interesting and unique architecture, of mainly traditional and oriental style.

Natural places

Do

Buy

Metal handicrafts, utensils and engravings can be bought at various places around town, including at the Grand Bazaar. Plis, the white traditional Albanian hat, can also be bought starting at €5.

Making of the plis

Eat

Cousine in Gjakova is not very diverse, but offers the tradional Kosovo cousine in a modest setting and at reasonable prices.

Tavë me tomël (Milk tava)

Drink

Sleep

Several choices are available for sleeping. The costs of sleeping ranges from €20-50 per night.

Connect

Wireless Internet is widely available in cafés and restaurants throughout the city, although it's a good idea to ask if one is available before you sit down. Free public WiFi is also available around the city through PTK (username: ptk, password:telekomi) and Fibrelink hotspots (no login). Internet cafés are also available at a cost of 0.60 €/hour with drinks served.

Several private phone calling shops with long-distance calling are available. You may also use the state telco company PTK main Gjakova branch downtown or several of its kiosks around the city to buy calling credit and use phone cabins.

Mobile telephony providers Vala and Ipko provide 3G and 4G internet telephony.

Go next

Mirusha Waterfalls
Decani monastery

Nearby

Further away

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, September 19, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.