Culture and history info
Historical monuments in Gjakova are divided into three main categories based on their cultural, religious and social context. The core part of the town was created between the Krena River to the east and Cabrati hill to the west. Around the cornerstone of the town, the Old Bazaar - the center of trade and craftsmanship - was created. By 1900, the bazaar housed around 1000 enterprises. Numerous bridges were built to enable the journey of trade caravans across the neighboring rivers. With the fast development of trade in the city, several inns were built to host the many visitors. Because of its ancient origins and fast economic development, Gjakova has become of great historical importance.
The Old or Grand Bazaar (Çarshia e Madhe) in Gjakova is the oldest bazaar in Kosovo, and it served as an Ottoman trading centre and heart of the town economy. It suffered damage during the Kosovo War but has since been renovated. The Hadum Mosque, built in the 16th century, lies by the bazaar, and includes a highly decorated graveyard, where the town notables were buried. Within the mosque complex were the hamam (Turkish bath) which was destroyed in 2008, the "Old library" from 1671, damaged in the Kosovo War.The Bazaar is linked to the city centre, just five minutes away via the Islam-Beg Bridge. The bazaar covers an area of about 35,000 m2 (380,000 sq ft) and the length of its main road is 1 km, with about 500 shops situated along it.
Events and festivals in Gjakova are not as much in numbers, as they are highly valued. The historic city of Gjakova, Kosovo, especially the Old Çarshia, is the hub of many outdoor and indoor festivals, cultural events and street parades. Many of them are seasonal and take place only one time, while others are organized annually for many years by various festival societies. All of them draw interest from the locals and visitors alike. Some of the events are organized by the city, some by private companies as well.
Atifete Jahjaga (Current President of Kosovo), Mahmut Bakalli (5th President of the League of Communists of Kosovo), Bardhyl Çaushi (Dean of law of the University of Pristina), Bajram Curri (founding member of the Committee for the National Defence of Kosovo),
Emin Duraku (Yugoslav Partisan), Bekim Fehmiu (Albanian actor, the first Eastern European to star in Hollywood during the Cold War), Fadil Hoxha (first Prime Minister of AP Kosovo), Ardian Kozniku (former Croatian footballer), Naim Kryeziu (former footballer, part of AS Roma's first Serie A win), Avni Mula (Albanian singer, composer and musician), Ismet Peja (Albanian singer), Ali Podrimja (Albanian poet),
Sulejman Vokshi (Albanian nationalist), Teki Dervishi (Albanian author, poet and founder of “Bota Sot” newspaper).
Ottoman period: In the Ottoman defter (tax registry) of 1485, the "village of Đakovica" had 67 households, among which there was the house of "Vukašin's son, the priest". Based on the study of the names, only two household heads were of possible Albanian origin. In the 17th century, Katip Çelebi and Evliya Çelebi mention this place asJakovičse, with 2000 houses and 300 shops.
The town had developed into an Ottoman trade center on the Shkodra–Istanbul route, with the marketplace being by the Hadum Mosque, built in 1594 by Mimar Sinan, financed by Hadum Aga. Evliya Çelebi mentioned it as a town in 1662, and described it as a flourishing and attractive town with 2,000 houses built of stone with roofs and gardens. The public buildings were situated on a broad plain and included two richly-adorned congregational mosques, several prayer-houses, some inns with leaden roofs, a delightful bath-house (hamam), and about 300 shops like nightingale-nests.
Gjakova suffered greatly from the Serbian and Montenegrin armies during the First Balkan War. The New York Times reported in 1912, citing Austro-Hungarian sources, that people on the gallows hung on both sides of the road, and that the way to Gjakova became a "gallows alley. In the region of Gjakova, the Montenegrin military police formed the Royal Gendarmerie Corps (Kraljevski žandarmerijski kor), known as krilaši, which committed much abuse and violence against the non-Christian population.
The town was badly affected by the Kosovo war, suffering great physical destruction and large-scale human losses and human rights abuses. Yugoslav units were stationed in and near the town in two barracks due to the risk of an attack by the Kosovo Liberation Army from across the border in Albania. In one incident, NATO aircraft misidentified a convoy of Albanian refugees and attacked it.
Actions on the ground had a devastating effect on the town. According to the ICTY, OSCE, and international human rights organizations , about 75% of the population was expelled by Serbian police and paramilitaries as well as Yugoslav forces, while many civilians were killed in the process. Large areas of the town were destroyed, chiefly through arson and looting but also in the course of localized fighting between government security forces and members of the KLA. The actions of the government forces in Gjakova formed a major part of the United Nations war crimes indictment of the then-President Slobodan Milošević. In 2011, several dozen corpses were identified and returned to their families, though the number is relatively small compared to the figures of those who are still missing. As a result, any reference to the return of the former Kosovo Serb population remains highly sensitive.
Aftermath of Kosovo war:
Most of the Albanian population returned following the end of the war. Thousands of new stores were rebuilt. Qarshia e Madhe is a good example where hundreds of stores were destroyed during the war; in 2001 as many were rebuilt as they had been before the war. New television and radio media were launched such as Radio Gjakova, Radio Pandora, Radio Amadeus, and TV Syri.