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Bazaar (English marketplace, Turkish pazar, Serbian базар, Albanian çarshia) of Pristina was built in the fifteenth century by Sultan Bayazid under the Ottoman Empire. It was the core merchandising center of old Pristina playing a significant role in Pristina's physical, economic, and social developments. Nowadays it has been destroyed being replaced with more modern architecture. Only few landmarks as Bazaar Mosque and Hammam's ruins have remained to this present day.

History of Pristina's Bazaar[edit]

Bazaar, as part of Ottoman period, represents unique historical phenomenon in Kosovo and wider in Balkan. Bazaars were built during XV, XVI, XVII centuries, reaching their final form in XIX century. [1] The time of their construction is related with manifestation of craft products in mosques’ walls. These pre ottoman existing market places were a special characteristic for Albanian towns, while not known for the ottoman ones.

In the late medieval period, during XVII-XIX centuries, bazaar had an important place to urbanity arrangement, as a characteristic indicator of inhabited centers. Near the end of XVI century, a number of merchants appeared with separate stores. The traditional complex bazaar eventually consisted of two units. It was formed of cover bazaar, a set of stores, and uncovered bazaar, a set of land banks where countrymen exposed their products once a week.

By the 13th Century, Pristina was referred to as a “village”, and by the middle ages it turned into a market area. In 1525 it evolved into a town and it was officially pronounce as one in 1775. [2] In 14th and 15th centuries, Pristina was known as an important mining and trading center. (Kosovo p.85). During middle ages, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, bazaar has evolved to become an entity of economic importance. In 1660, Evlya Çelebi claims that Pristina had market area (bazaar) and a hammam, 11 inns and about 300 different shops. [3] [2] In 1830, Ammie Boue said that the old Bazaar was the central part of Pristina.[4] Till 1840 it had around 200 crafts stores. [5] There were many fairs organized, in-between tradesmen and craftsmen – in 1879 was organized the first and biggest fair where 1200-1500 people were present (near Sahat Kulla?). [6] According to the vice-consul of the Kingdom of Serbia, Branislav Nušić, in his monography about Kosovo (Nusic 1902; 47-48), Pristina had the liveliest trade during his visit in 1893-96. [7] Between two World Wars, Pristina had 240 shops, majority focused in the old Bazaar. [3] In the verge of Second World War, there were 365 private crafts shops, practicing about 60 different crafts. [3] After the war, economy was industrialized, and crafts started fading.[8]

Urban, architectural, and social contexts of the Bazaar[edit]

Urban context[edit]

During 15th and 19th century, Bazaar of Pristina was located in the core center of Pristina, exactly at the intersection of the two main roads, which influenced its physical, economic, and social developments.[2] These arteries were the east-west direction or Divan-Yoll (today UÇK Street), and the north-south road (Corso, today Mother Teresa boulevard). Divan-Yoll was distinguished for the development of public domain and social life of the inhabitants, while the other road was important for the economic development.[2] Along the north-south artery, a convoy of caravans were passing through to the other important cities of the Balkans, which influenced the development of Pristina. On the other hand, bazaars were preferable to be located close to rivers, therefore Bazaar of Pristina was located approximately in-between Vellusha and Prishtevka rivers. Nowadays, both these rivers are covered.[5] It was surrounded by Bedri Pejani Street in the west, UÇK Street in the north, Agim Ramadani Street in the east, and Mother Theresa Boulevard in the south.[6] Bazaar was not preliminarily planned, but spontaneously developed along the organic network of roads. (Plani zhvillimor urban, fq 17.) These narrow streets, paved with cobblestones or macadam, intersected at a rhombic square with a Round Fountain in the middle.[9] These streets were composed of parallel rows of singles-story jointed shops. The ground floor area was used as crafts’ working, exposition, and trading area. Sometimes, besides the ground floor they also had an upper, mostly used as depot. Only during the second half of the nineteenth century they had two stories above. (ASHAK. 2011. Kosova: Vështrim monografik. RIZA E. Arkitektura e qyteteve. ASHAK: Prishtina. P.496)

The residential areas were located outside the Bazaar, in a radial direction.

Architectural context[edit]

The bazaar was structured accordingly with the practiced crafts; hence each craft had its own alley.[9] This principle was inherited from the Eastern Roman Empire. (ASHAK. 2011. Kosova: Vështrim monografik. RIZA E. Arkitektura e qyteteve. ASHAK: Prishtina. P.496) Bazaar stores were made of three main materials: abode, wood, stone. Masonry was made of abode and stone. The roof structure, frontal facade, windows and eventually floor and ceiling were made of wood. In both functional and architectural viewpoint, the most important element of the stores was its frontal facade. The bazaar shops’ street facades were characterized by long eaves, large wooden windows, and multifunctional window shutters. During the day, while the shops were open, these wooden shutters they were used as exposition racks.[9] Opening and closing of the frontal shutters beside the door indicated whether the store was open for customers or closed. In general, bazaar shops architecturally were designed as ground-floor constructions, where raw material was stored, artisanal products were manufactured and then exposed for sale.[5] Among the shops, there were also some small cafes serving coffee, tea, and occasionally rakia.[2]

The ground and the first floor, were constructed of strong material and covered with tiles. They were surrounded by exterior walls, within which there were many gardens yard. Despite the influences of European architecture, architecture and urban environments of Pristina remained native.

Social context[edit]

Besides trading, Bazaar of Pristina was also the main place for public encounters.[9] Its shops were also used for blood feud reconciling, selling and purchasing of property, affiancing procedures, setting of marriage dates, developing patriotic feelings, and cultivating trust (besa). (ASHAK. 2013. Kosova: A monographic survey. RIZA E. Architecture of Towns. ASHAK: Prishtina. P.411) Closeness of shops made people get closer with each-other. There was a lot of respect among them.[4] People used to hang around with each other in front of their shops, also drinking tea.[4] Whenever a new shop opened, people used to throw coins on the ground, believing that this superstitious act would bring fortune. Other signs of good luck were horseshoes, and garlic head or horn. (ASHAK. 2013. Kosova: A monographic survey. RIZA E. Architecture of Towns. ASHAK: Prishtina. P.411) Craftsmanship and commerce networks were organized in guilds. Guilds were an Ottoman model of the corporate economy organizations. (ASHAK. 2013. Kosova: A monographic survey. RIZA E. Architecture of Towns. ASHAK: Prishtina. P.166) They protected economic, social, political, military, religious, educational and other craftsmen interests. These guilds had a common voluntary fund, which was used to financially support poor and ill craftsmen, to educate young artisans, to establish schools and build some public buildings. (ASHAK. 2013. Kosova: A monographic survey. RIZA E. Architecture of Towns. ASHAK: Prishtina. P.410) Guilds controlled the economic life, especially the tanners and bakers guilds, which controlled the prices. (Kosovo p.86)

Shops and crafts[edit]

Pristina was known for several handicrafts, crafted by gifted silversmiths, goldsmiths, coppersmiths, tinsmiths, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, tub-makers, cutlers, potters, farriers, saddlers, boot makers, tailors, quilters, and curries, and were all loated in the city centre.(ASHAK,2013.Kosova: A monographic survey.Riza E. Architecture of Towns. Ashak: Prishtina.P408 [3] Especially Pristina was known as the centre of coppersmiths and pottery crafting; later spread in other Kosovo cities-[1[Prizren]], Gjakova, Peja,Gjilan. Copper pots were crafted for domestic and cult purposes. These pots were crafted from copper and brass by forging, smelting and savat techniques. On the other hand, clay pots were crafted for wheat and water preservations (water vessels and jugs). Decorations used in these crafts were wavy zigzag lines, circles, and semicircles. (ASHAK. 2013. Kosova: A monographic survey . RIZA E. Architecture of towns, ASHAK: Prishtina.P.409)

Saddling was also developed in Pristina, besides Gjakova, Prizren, Gjilan, and Peja. Among the crafts were: horse and oxen gears, such as bridles, halters, tacks, collars, headgears, pads, saddles, stirrups, and cuirasses. These supplies were decorated with beads, charms, tufts, and mirrors.

Pristina was also identified with tailoring and silk processing. Tailors used to make national costumes mostly for wealthy class men and women. Among these items were waistcoats, coats, and robes.

Craftsmen of Pristina manufactured slippers as well. Slippers were made of soft leather (sahtian) fabric, embroidered with golden coloured strings on the top. There were also shoe-crafts as leather shoes (moccasins), and clogs adorned with silver or pearly incrustation. (ASHAK. 2013.Kosova: A monographic survey. RIZA E. Architecture of Towns.ASHAK: Prishtina. P.409).

Crafts considered as touristic attractions containing folkloric elements, were supported with suitable shops and lower taxes.[3] Also new crafts emerged as: radio-technicians, electro-technicians, hydro-installers, auto-mechanics, etc.[3] Nowadays, most of handicrafts do not exist or have been transformed into new trades. Some of them are the handicraft of curriers, saddlers, tailors, silk processers, goat wool rug makers, and embroiders potters. On the other hand, even though in a small number, the old craft shops that still exist are blacksmiths and cutlers. (ASHAK.2013.Kosova: A monographic survey. RIZA E.Architecture of Towns.ASHAK:Prishtina.P.411)

Bazaar was the most important trade and crafts center. It was famous for its annual trade fairs and goat hide and hair articles. There were around 50 different crafts practiced in the Bazaar, among which were from tanning to leather dyeing, belt making and silk weaving, and also military crafts as armorers, smiths, and saddle makers. In 1485 the artisans started producing gunpowder. (Kosovo p.86) Bazaar of Pristina was also visited by other traders, mostly by Ragusan traders (from nowadays Dubrovnik), who became a vast colony. Being in such crossroads, Bazaar served as a linkage of local and other foreign craftsmen. (Kosovo p.86)

Important landmarks[edit]

  • Bazaar Mosque

Carshi Mosque (Bazaar Mosque, listed since 1967). Carshi Mosque was built in the beginning of the 15th century, by Sultan Bayazid in order to mark the victory of the Ottoman forces in 1389. (express p.10) By that time, it used to overlook over the covered part of Bazaar. Since then, Bazaar Mosque has gone through significant changes, being initially repaired in 1820 and 1902 by Sulltan Abdylhamid II.[6] As a result its original look has been modified, but the stonetopped minaret, its distinguishing symbol,-has been preserved for more than a half millennia, respectively 600 years. ( Carshi Mosque is also known as ‘Tas Mosque’, which literally means ‘Stone Mosque’. ( ) ( express_article.pdf ) Bazaar Mosque is one of 21 protected buildings in Pristina. ( ( p.8)

  • Bazaar Hammam

The foundations of the Old Hamam (listed since 1959) Once located near Bazaar Mosque, Old Hamam was an important example of early Ottoman architecture. It was destroyed by consecutive waves of urban renovation. Its foundations were found during the construction of today’s Government building. Before the proper research was conducted, it was quickly covered by urban planners. (

  • Khan

Khans were specific buildings located in Pristina’s Bazaar that offered accommodation for traders and their animals, serving as a facilitation of trade. Khan consisted of two floors. Ground floor was a shelter for animals, whereas the upper one was a shelter for people. It has been said that in 1870-1880 Pristina possessed around 10 Khans.[5]

  • Bezisten

In 1830, Pristina had a covered Bazaar or Bezisten,known among the inhabitants as ‘Kapali Carshia’. It was covered with bricks.[4] The Covered Bazaar was located in Pristina’s core center, in-between Carshia Mosque in the east, Korzo Street in the west, and which nowadays is approximately the near the building of Assembly of Kosovo. This building was a complex of nearly 150-200 crafts shops.. The most crowded area with shops was at the nowadays Government area.[6] In the western exit of Covered Bazaar, between the crafts shops complex was The Round Fountain (“Shadërvani Rrethor”) with one fountain-head and concrete tub.[6] Water from the fountain (Sadirvan) on the lower part of Bazaar, was used for maintaining the shops and other needs of inhabitants.[6] People used to keep their shops and streets very clean.[4] In the 50s the law for cleaning the streets was approved. Citizens were supposed to clean their gardens, shops, and streets, and then pile the garbage, which was taken by a phaeton.[4] The Covered Bazaar interior was attractive and interesting, thus resembling the bazaars of many oriental kasabas. It had many organic and intersecting roads, paved with cobblestones. Shops were decorated and filled with goods. Most notable traders were Jews, who were relatively educated and besides their own language also spoke Turkish, Serbo-Croatian, and Albanian.[6] There were shops of moccasin shoes, saddlers, curriers, Albanian fez makers, etc.[6] There were also many cafés and tea shops, sweet-shops, and bakers. There were also other shops were oriental foods were served, kebab stores, butchers, pharmacies, libraries, barbers, watchmakers.[6] One of the many roads of this bazaar was distinguished by its walls protection and huge doors closure within both sides of the road. The high security enabled safety provisions while trading valuable goods.[5]

  • Public Bath

Another important part of Bazaar was public bath, known as Hammam according to Arabian language. Hammam walls were made of stone, whereas its roof was made of tiling. Regularly, shower baths and dressing rooms were separated according to gender. As a social construction, Hammam is mentioned since 1873 and 1880.[5] In that period of time, Pristina was known for three Hammam possessions.[5]

Destruction of the Bazaar[edit]

Early destruction[edit]

Bazaar and some other parts of Pristina were destroyed by two great fires in 1859 and 1863, just while Pristina was having its peak development.[6][4]

In 1912, following the Serbian invasions, many feudal and intellectual Albanian and Turkish families were deported to Turkey. Among them were the main town’s craftsmen. As a result, the shops were abandoned and Bazaar significance started fading. (ASHAK. 2011. Kosova: Vështrim monografik. OSMANI J. Qytetet. Prishtina. P.112)

Destroy the old, and build the new[edit]

The peak of communist politics was during the 1950’s when the urban development was established under the motto “Destroy the old, build the new’. ( Pristina had eastern features till the end of the Second World War. After this period destruction of these characteristics and old parts of the city took place. ( The Ottoman bazaar and large parts of the historic center (including mosques, churches, houses) were destroyed.(Kosovo p.86)

A significant part of old Pristina was destroyed to be replaced later with newer architecture. Old buildings were substituted with new ones, and streets were widened and paved with cobblestones. Few remaining old buildings, belonging to Ottoman period, were left without institutional care. ( ) "Until the end of World War II, Pristina has been a typical oriental city. After liberation, Pristina experienced rapid development, becoming a modern city. Shops and unstable old structures started disappearing, making space for building high buildings of modern style”. (Monography “Prishtina” (1959).

The so called “Unstable old structures”, which covered one of the largest bazaars in the region were demolished after the war. This spiritual center of the city has lost its mosque, a catholic church and synagogues. Since the 1945, the story of Pristina is a gray, tragic story of its destruction and many misfortunes. During the communist era, the annihilation of the past was the outcome of non liberal politics.

After the Second World War in 1953, Pristina had its first urban plan, made by Serbian architect Partonic, approved. Citizens, eager for modern city, volunteered in the new city order. This was the starting point of the Bazaar destruction where many crafts shops were ruined to make space for the new Municipality Assembly and Parliament of Kosovo.[6] Everything ‘old’ and of Albanian and Turkish roots was destroyed; only a few remained.[6] At that time, some Russian architects insisted on preserving the Bazaar’s architecture. Nevertheless the system decided to destroy everything.[4]

In 1954, a master plan was approved by Institute for the Protection and Study of Cultural Monuments. The main element of it was the placement of a complex of new municipal and provincial government buildings at its center, where the Ottoman-era bazaar of Pristina was located. In the second half of 1950s, some of the new buildings intended in Pristina’s master plan were constructed such as: a provincial assemblage building, a city hall, and a new main street with modernist mixed-use buildings. All these buildings were located on the site of Pristina’s destroyed bazaar or next to other condemned Ottoman-era architecture. The destruction of Ottoman-era architecture signified the beginning of modernization. (counter heritage p.27?)

The most radical transformations in Bazaar of Pristina happened from 1960 to 1970. (ASHAK. 2011. Kosova: Vështrim monografik. OSMANI J. Qytetet. Prishtina. P.113) At this time, its small shops, streets, religious and other public buildings were destroyed for the sake of the new. Thus Pristina lost an important feature of its historic and cultural heritage. On the other hand, the shops’ destruction affected the craftsmen's lives. Some of them never recovered their businesses or migrated abroad.[9]

Pristina was turned into an administrative town, from town of gardens and artisans. In the Bazaar area, new administrative buildings were built.[9] In 1965, there was a public debate held among local experts of architecture and other relevant fields, city officials and citizens, who criticized this Urban Plan, which the architect could not justify. Since then, local experts made corrections and undertook further urban development’s of Pristina.[6] In 1966, few roads were paved and new high-rise socialist apartment blocks were built. (Kosovo p.87)

Nowadays Bazaar area[edit]

Photo Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ DRANCOLLI, Fejaz (2004). Destruction of Albanian Kulla. Prishtine. ISBN 9951861407. 
  2. ^ a b c d e CHWB (2008). Heritage of Prishtina (PDF). CHWB. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f CAKA, Nebi (2005). Ne udhekryqe te jetes. Prishtine: Gjimnazi "Sami Frasheri". ISBN 9951470009.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h GASHI, Sanije (2012). Prishtina e femijerise sime. Prishtine: TEUTA. ISBN 9789951855730. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g RIZA, Emin (2006). Banesa qytetare kosovare e shek. XVIII-XIX. Prishtine: ASHAK. ISBN 9951413374.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m SYLEJMANI, Sherafedin (2010). PRISHTINA IME. Prishtine: JAVA MULTIMEDIA PRODUCTION. ISBN 9789951471022. 
  7. ^ BATAKOVIC, D. (2007). Kosovo and Metohija: Living in the Enclave (PDF). Belgrade: Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. ISBN 9788671790529. 
  8. ^ Komuna e Prishtines (1987). Plani i pergjithshem urbanistik i Prishtines deri ne vitin 2000. Prishtine: Komuna e Prishtines. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f SHUJAKU, Valbona (2011). "Prishtina Poetic Memories". 


External links[edit]