The Ottoman-era architecture of Prizren's old town. Image by Larissa Olenicoff / Lonely Planet

The Ottoman-era architecture of Prizren’s old town. Image by Larissa Olenicoff / Lonely Planet

If you’re looking for culture in Kosovo, it’s best to head south to Prizren. Seated at the foot of the Shar mountains and close to the Rahovec (Orahovac) wine region, Kosovo’s second city packs a heavy punch with its rich history, traditional handicraft shops and gastronomic delights. Mix that with incredible nearby nature and a renowned summer film festival, and you have a ‘must-see’ destination to add to your Balkan travel itinerary.

Throughout history Prizren has played an important role in the region which was first settled in Illyrian times. Situated at a major crossroad on the Balkan peninsula, the town hosted a handful of empires, with Byzantine and Ottoman architecture leaving the most distinctive marks on the cityscape. Ottoman vibes can be felt especially around Shadervan – near this main, cobbled square you’ll find a great selection of bars and restaurants, as well as the lovely Sinan Pasha Mosque (one of over 20 mosques in the city) and the Old Stone Bridge, which dates back to the 16th century but was reconstructed in the 1980s after it was destroyed by a flood. On the other side of the Bistrica (Lumbardhi) river, on Rr Adem Jashari, is the Gazi Mehmet Pasha Hammam; when it’s not being used as an exhibition space, it remains closed to the public.

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