Photos of Peja, Kosovo's second largest City, Kosovo

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Peja, Kosovo's second largest City

Peja (or Pejë in a sentence with a preposition like “to”, “in” or “from Peja”) is the second largest city of Kosovo, with a population of around 114,000. The Serbian name is Пећ (Peć). Peja city is located in a strategic position on the Lumbardhi i Pejës (Pećka Bistrica) river, a tributary of the White Drin to the east of the Alpet Shqiptare (Albanian Alps) or Prokletije mountains.

View to Peja
Old houses mosque
Muddy street
Rush hour
At the market
Market scene
Selling chickens
Carpet market
Selling clothes
Muslim cemetery
Bajrakli mosque
Bajrakli mosque protected
Carvings on fountain
Grave of Haxhi Zeka
Bajrakli mosque gate
Restoration Bajrakli mosque
View to Bajrakli Mosque
Muharrem Pasha street
Rruga Muharrem Pasha
Haxhi Zeka Kulla
Haxhi Zeka Kulla entrance
Plastic goods shop
Clothes for sale
Rruga Fatmir Ukaj
Albanian souvenirs
Clothing for sale
Open air market, Peja
Open air market
Çarshia e Gjatë
Shopping street
Çarshia e Gjatë
Çarshia e Gjatë shopping street
Gold shop, Çarshia e Gjatë
Silver shops
Haxhi Zeka Square
Statue of Haxhi Zeka
Drinking water
Konak Beg House
Room in Ethnographic museum
Traditional weaving
Traditional Albanian dress
Traditional musical instruments
Sk�nderbeu Square
Hotel Dukagjini
Adrian Krasniqi statue
Children's playground
Haxhi Beu Hamam
Zenel Beg Kulla (Begolli)
Shaban Goska Kulla
Defterdar Mosque
Birra Peja brewery
Haxhi Zeka Mill
Street market stalls
Selling cigarettes
Clock Tower mosque
Saint Catherine Church
Lumbardhi River
View of central Peja
View to Rugova valley

The city was known as Pescium during the Roman era. Under Serbian Tsar Stefan Dušan, it became a major religious centre of medieval Serbia. In 1346 it became the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The town and its surrounding area is still sacred ground for adherents of the Serbian Orthodox Church: Pećka Patriaršija, the Patriarchal monastery, is just west of the town.

Peć was captured by the Ottomans in the late 14th century; they named it İpek and made significant changes. The town was settled by a large number of Turks and took on a distinctly oriental character with narrow streets and old-style Turkish houses. It also became an Islamic town with the construction of several mosques, many of which still survive. One of these is the Bajrakli (“Flag”) Mosque, built by the Ottomans in the 15th century and located in the centre of the city. Many Turkish descendants still live in the area,

The five centuries of Ottoman rule came to an end in the First Balkan War of 1912-1913, when Montenegro took control of the town. In late 1915, during World War I, Austria-Hungary took the city. Peć was reconquered in October 1918 and after World War I it became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, later Yugoslavia. During World War II the town was occupied by Italian-controlled Albania. But in 1944 it once more became part of Yugoslavia and eventually the second largest city in the Autonomous Province of Kosovo-Metohija, part of the People’s Republic of Serbia.

Peja has always been a mixed city, with the vast majority of the inhabitants Kosovo Albanians, but there was also a significant minority community. In 1967 and 1969, when the old photos were taken, life seemed peaceful. Traditional attire was prevalent and an easy way to distinguish between the different population groups. The market place was especially interesting to see a variety of people. However, relations between Serbs and the majority Albanians were often tense during the 20th century; this came again to a head in the Kosovo War of 1999, during which the city suffered massive damage and mass killings. There was further damage in violent inter-ethnic unrest in 2004. Most Kosovo Serbs have now left the town and live in a village nearby. There is a sizeable Bosniak community in the city while significant Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities reside in urban and rural areas.

For photos comparing Peja of half a century ago with today, see Returning after half a century.