Prizren Diaries, Kosovo May.2019
Prizren is one of the oldest settlements in Kosovo and the western Balkans. Archaeological excavations in Prizren Fortress indicate that its fortress area has seen habitation and use since the Bronze Age (ca. 2000 BCE). Prizren has been traditionally identified with the settlement of Theranda in Roman Dardania, although other locations have been suggested in recent research. In late antiquity it was part of the defensive fortification system in western Dardania and the fort was reconstructed in the era of eastern Roman Emperor Justinian. Byzantine rule in the region ended definitively in 1219-20 as the Serbian Nemanjić dynasty controlled the fort and the town until 1371. Since 1371, a series of regional feudal rulers came to control Prizren: the Balsic the Dukagjini, the Hrebeljanović and finally the Branković, often with Ottoman support. The Ottoman Empire assumed direct control after 1450. Prizren first developed in the area below the fortress which overlooks the Bistrica river on its left bank. Since the 16th century, economic development fueled the expansion of the city's neighbourhoods to the river's right bank. The municipality of Prizren is still the most culturally and ethnically heterogeneous of Kosovo, retaining communities of Bosniaks, Turks, and Romani in addition to the majority Kosovo Albanian population live in Prizren. Only a small number of Kosovo Serbs remains in Prizren and area, residing in small villages, enclaves, or protected housing complexes. Furthermore, Prizren's Turkish community is socially prominent and influential, and the Turkish language is widely spoken even by non-ethnic Turks (Source:wikipedia.org)
My purpose for arriving in Prizren was the flag ceremony held by the Roman people in Terzi Neighborhood, which Eddy had mentioned before. They were walking in the streets accompanied by music with the flag that was said to have been given to the Roman people by the Ottoman sultan, and then they prayed by drinking water under it at the end. I arrived in Prizren the day before to better prepare for the ceremony. Eddy, who came running, sadly said that the ceremony was held at that moment and if we go fast, we can catch up. There was nothing to do. We ran quickly to the ceremony. We caught up towards the end of the ceremony. People playing in the street, and flag standing in a corner. I could not capture images of the Roma walking on the streets. Perhaps this ceremony stems from their efforts to show themselves stronger against the other part of society.
For the remainder of my program, we visited Necip Menekşe, whom I met in Kumanova, on Radio Romano Avazo, a Roman radio, with Eddy and made plans for future studies. Unfortunately, he passed away a year later. But while I was there, we visited together the Roman blacksmith workshops. I took their pictures. I visited a museum and two dervish lodges still working in the city. Bektashi and Melami lodges and Albanian Unity of Prizren Museum.
Prizren old town is like an Ottoman City preserved from the past to the present. The river that runs through it, its mosques and dervish lodges, stone streets and historical bridge. It is possible to see someone who speaks Turkish everywhere. I was in Prizren during Ramadan. On my last day, Eddy invited me to their evening iftar dinner. This meal, which is full of families and relatives, was a good opportunity for me to see both their lifestyles and family structures.