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New project from KGBD “Promotion of cultural dialogue through youth education and inter-community communication”

Kosovo Young Union Association is implementing the project “Promotion of cultural dialogue through youth education and inter-community communication”. This project is supported by the Directorate for Culture, Youth and Sports of the Municipality of Prizren (DKRS) where the purpose of the project is to strengthen social sensitivity, ensure the protection of values and traditional identities that are on the verge of extinction and strengthen the sense of social solidarity and unity through our cultural heritage values.

The implementation of the mentioned project will be done on the platform, where it be realized promotion of cultural heritage and youth awareness, as well as the preservation of values and traditional identities that are on the verge of extinction.

Cultural Bridge platform aims to increase social awareness, to protect cultural assets and promote art on a large scale.

Sinan Pasha Mosque, the most beautiful mosque in Kosovo

This mosque, which can also be called the pearl of the city because it constitutes a very important monument of religious heritage in Prizren, is the most beautiful mosque not only in Prizren but also in Kosovo. Sinan Pasha Mosque is located in the Historic District of the city of Prizren. With its dominant positioning, its dimensions, its shape, the ratio of the minaret to the dome, the construction techniques and materials, the rich decoration of the interior, the Sinan Pasha Mosque represents one of the most characteristic monuments of the ancient city of Prizren. Its construction began in 1607 and was completed in 1615. This monument is named after Sofu Sinan Pasha, who held an important position in the Ottoman administration.

The mosque has a square-shaped plan and the entrance to the mosque from the outside is provided by a carved stone staircase located towards the north. The minaret of the mosque is built of pumice stones (foam stone) with a square base and circular body. Before the entrance of the mosque, there is an open life, also made of stone. The so-called “Hayat” section is covered with three lead-covered domes resting on stone columns with circular bases. The mosque is covered by a large dome with a diameter of 42.5 meters. The interior is a unique space illuminated by tiered windows.

The paintings inside the dome were completed in three phases and are decorated with floral and Islamic motifs. The first and second phases were painted in the “al seco” technique and date back to the XVI-XVII centuries, while the third phase belongs to the XIX century and was painted in the baroque style with predominantly blue colors.

Due to the historically unfavorable conditions in Kosovo, this mosque was not able to serve religious needs without interruption.
Until 1912, it served the religious needs of the faithful, but during the Balkan Wars and the First World War, it was sufficiently damaged, especially the life section. In 1967, with the establishment of the Organization for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, the maintenance of the monuments began. In 1968-69, after a renovation, this mosque was transformed into the Museum of Oriental Manuscripts.

From 2007 to 2011, restoration works were carried out both inside and outside, and immediately after these restoration works, it was reopened as a mosque.

In addition to the arrangement of the courtyard on the south side, a traditional place was opened where residents can relax in front of the mosque’s beautiful view.

Finally, in 2016, the mosque was officially declared under permanent protection by the Kosovo Cultural Heritage Council.

The Stone Bridge

The Lumbardh River goes through Prizren city, thereby dividing the city in two almost identical parts. Over the Prizren Lumbardh, many bridges have been built in history, but undoubtedly the most special one, which also became a symbol of the city, is the Stone Bridge. The Stone Bridge is located in the centre of the old town. On the eastern side to it, there is the Arasta Bridge, while on the western side, there is a Nalet Bridge. The bridge connects the “Shatervan” square (on the left) and Saraçhane (on the right side of the river). Historical resources do not provide any information on the accurate time of its construction. Based on materials used, the style, technique of construction, it may be assumed that the bridge was built by the end of the 15th Century, or the early 16th century. The old bridge is built in quality carved stones, connected by lime plaster.

The old bridge used to have three arches, the middle one being the highest, and the side arches were smaller. The length of the former bridge used to be approx. 30 m, while the current bridge is 17 m long. The width of the major arch is 10 m, and 5 m in height. The length of side arches is 4 m, 3 m in height. The bridge also has an additional minor arch, 103 cm long and 160 cm height. The width of the bridge route is 4,20m, paved in stone cobble. The bridge also has a 40 cm high fencing, following on its level surface, and was used only for pedestrians. In history, the bridge has undergone major changes. It suffered serious structural damages during the construction of the Lumbardh riverbed in the 60-es. At this time, its left side arch was closed entirely. The right hand arch was damaged due to the construction of the road on the right side of the river in 1963.

Nevertheless, the bridge is mostly endangered by natural factors. The flooding on 17-18 November 1979 destroyed the whole bridge. Enamoured with the bridge, the Prizren population mobilized itself, and used a design made by Engineer M. Gojkovic, and started, on 5 June 1982 the works on its reconstruction. The restoration was lead by “Elan” Company, under the supervision of the Institute for Protection of Cultural monuments in Prizren. The reconstructed bridge was solemnly inaugurated on 17 November 1982. Hence, the bridge found its natural place again, and still continues to perform its function as a pedestrian bridge. Due to the values of heritage, the Stone Bridge was subject to state protection by Decision 2345, of 31 December 1948.

How equal are minority organisations? FUEN study on the project “Women of Minorities” presented

At FUEN events we often experience that the gender ratio is not balanced. Significantly more men than women take part in our congresses, conferences and annual meetings. But also in qualitative terms, if you look at the speeches and panelists, women are underrepresented – and this picture is often representative of their general presence in governing bodies. “This gave us in FUEN food for thought and the idea for the ‘Women of Minorities’ project was born,” explained FUEN General Secretary Éva Pénzes at the beginning of today’s online meeting, which was attended by around 20 people from FUEN’s member organisations, from 13 countries.

What is the status quo? Are women in minorities a minority, in official bodies and leadership? How equal is it in our organisations? What are the challenges? In order to get answers to these questions and to assess the status quo, we sent a questionnaire to our member organisations in November. We are pleased that over 40 organisations participated and in this way helped to get a comprehensive picture.

The results of this survey were presented by Zora Popova, FUEN scientific officer, at the beginning of the meeting. The answers showed that women are basically well represented in the organisations, especially in the operational area, whereas men dominate in leadership positions, i.e. in presidencies or boards. “Women do the work while men sit in the leadership”, Zora Popova summarised the situation. When it comes to knowledge about gender equality and guidelines, it was found that about two thirds of the participating organisations have knowledge, but very few of them have official documents or guidelines on gender equality in the organisation. Hardly anyone has attended training on this topic.

“The results show that there is a need for more gender equality,” Zora Popova pointed out. “The main obstacle cited is the traditional role of women, which does not leave time for other activities between family and job.” A fact that Eugenia Natsoulidou, participant of the meeting, could confirm. “What women have achieved through the women’s movement is to have a choice. But: women today still have too many responsibilities in private, while men focus on their careers.”

However, a lack of promotion, a lack of awareness or stereotypes within the organisation also stand in the way of better gender equity, the results show. As measures that are needed, the study participants named management training, support from experts as well as raising awareness for the topic in order to create awareness in the first place.

The project “Women of Minorities” will focus on exchanging ideas about possible future activities and exploring possible improvements. What tools can be used to bring about a change towards better representation of women in minority organisations? This is what we need to work on in the following meetings and discussions. One idea is to present women from leading, active positions in minorities as role models for overcoming stereotypes. The participants agreed with this approach. “Helping each other can be a solution. We have to motivate women not to always apologise and we have to fight against the hidden discrimination that all women experience in everyday life,” said Elisa Ferekidou. And not unimportant: “We need to involve men to tackle the problem”, Eugenia Natsoulidou added.

Gösta Toft, Vice-President of FUEN, encouraged everyone present to stay on top of the issue and plan further activities. FUEN has an important role to play as a knowledge broker and driving force.

How can we help our affiliates to develop strategies and guidelines on gender equality? How can we motivate women to take on more active roles in their organisations and at our events? These are the questions to which answers will be sought in the course of the project and – in the best case – put into practice.

We would like to thank the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Home Affairs for supporting the project.

Church of St. Premta (Levisha Church)

The Church of St. Premta (Levisha Church), located in the Historic District of Prizren, was rebuilt in 1306-07. It is assumed that the foundations of the early Paleo-Christian church (V-VIth century) and later the Byzantine basilica (IXth century) were built on the foundations of a Pagan temple (before our era) dedicated to Prema or Premta, the Illyrian goddess of fertility and childbirth. After the conquest of Prizren by the Ottoman Empire in 1455-59, it was converted into a mosque and named Friday Mosque, a name that is still used by locals today. With the First Balkan War in 1912, the mosque was again converted into a church. The minaret was demolished in 1923. In 1948, it was placed under protection by Law No. 352. Based on its historical, artistic, social and spiritual values, the Church of St. Premta (Levisha Church), a cultural heritage property, was declared under eternal protection by the Kosovo Cultural Heritage Council in 2016.


Gracanica Monastery

It is located in the center of Gracanica. The present monastery is a reconstruction of a fourteenth-century church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, built on the foundations of an early Christian basilica from the VI century. The greatest restoration of the monastery took place towards the end of the 16th century, when all the openings in the outer narthex were walled up and new frescoes were painted. The famous Thessaloniki painters Mihajli and Evtihije completed the frescoes in the main church in 1321, the best known of which are The Great Cycle of Celebrations and The Difficulties and Miracles of Christ. The interior of the monastery is rich in frescoes. The Gracanica Monastery is part of the world cultural heritage protected by UNESCO. Based on its historical, artistic, social and spiritual values, the Monastery of Graçanica, a cultural heritage property, was declared under eternal protection by the Kosovo Cultural Heritage Council in 2016.

Peja Patriarchate

The Patriarchate of Peja is located at the entrance to the Rugova gorge near Peja. The Holy Temple of the Apostles was built by Archbishop Arsenije in the third decade of the XIII century. In the XIV century minor changes were made to the Church of the Holy Apostles, so some parts were decorated later. Serbian patriarchs and archbishops were buried in the churches of the Patriarchate from the XIIIth to the XVIIth century. In the XIX century a watermill, a guesthouse and new stone walls were added outside this complex. In July 2006, UNESCO declared the Patriarchate of Peja a part of the world cultural heritage, giving it the 13th place. In turn, on July 13, 2003, the Patriarchate of Peja was included in UNESCO’s list of world protected properties. Based on its historical, artistic, social and spiritual values, the Patriarchate of Peja, a cultural heritage property, was declared under eternal protection by the Kosovo Cultural Heritage Council in 2016.

Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage is the historical artifacts/values that have survived from past generations and are preserved and transferred for the benefit of future generations, have universal values, and meet certain conditions (such as witnessing tradition, being the product of creative human genius, representing one or more periods of human history). Cultural heritage includes Tangible Culture, Intangible Culture and Natural Heritage. By its very meaning, cultural heritage reminds societies and their members of a common past, strengthens unity and solidarity and ensures the continuity of traditions and diversity.

Tangible Cultural Heritage: It is divided into two groups as portable and immovable heritage. Monuments, sculptures, archaeological artifacts, paintings, landscapes, inscriptions, etc.

Abstract Cultural Heritage: Folklore, traditions, language, oral history, etc.

Natural Heritage: Culturally significant landscapes and biodiversity.

How is cultural conservation done?

Some of the processes and disciplines involved in the conservation and protection of tangible culture are as follows: 

  • Archival science
  • Museology
  • Restoration and conservation
  • Artistic, archaeological and architectural conservation
  • Preservation of folklore records
  • Preservation and digitalization of the film
  • Digital protection

Some of the processes carried out for the preservation of abstract culture are:

  • Language preservation
  • Oral history
  • Traditions
  • Folklore

Among the actions taken for natural heritage, the protection of biodiversity (plants, animals, endemic species, ancestral seeds, etc.) is particularly important.