Kosovo Cultural Heritage Program
Though one of the world’s youngest countries and with the youngest population in Europe, Kosovo is rich in archaeological and architectural heritage. However, Kosovo’s heritage has been degraded by age, poor construction practices, pollution, and lack of preservation and restoration.
The Government of Kosovo has issued policies to address these issues but lacks capacity to fully fund and implement them. With a grant from the US Embassy in Pristina, Kosovo, IRD will lead the restoration of three cultural heritage sites in the Prizren region: the Sheh Zade Old House in Prizren, the Church of St. Stephen in Velika Hoca/ Hoce e Madhe, and the Church of St. Nicola in Bogosevci-Prizren.
IRD Senior Program Officer Michele Lemmon was interviewed by Ancient Faith radio on the program; listen to the full broadcast here.
The sites were chosen through careful consultation with local stakeholders, and decisions were based on the sites’ historical, cultural, and artistic value; the interest of the local population; and the ability of local entities to care for the buildings following their restoration.
The restorations will preserve superb examples of traditional architecture with significant cultural and historic importance. The project will also create opportunities for educational programs and dialogue for Kosovars of all backgrounds, leading to better understanding and unity. IRD will work directly with two local organizations, the Kosovar Stability Initiative (KSI) and the Center for Peace and Tolerance (CPT), to increase awareness of the rich history and religious and architectural heritage represented by these sites.
OLD HOUSE SHEH ZADE
The Old House Sheh Zade is an extremely rare example of Kosovar traditional dwelling, with high historic, artistic, symbolic, civic, and urban values. Owned by the same family until 2004, the dwelling dates to the 19th century, and was built by Sheh Zade, a prominent Sufi family. It is located in the historic center of Prizren, a national and international historic district in Kosovo. Sheh Zade Old House is a national monument and is included in the National Cultural Heritage List of the Republic of Kosovo, however it is currently abandoned.
ST. STEPHAN CHURCH
St. Stephan church is one of the oldest churches in the area. Three phases of construction are revealed in its architecture: the earliest dating from the 14th century, the middle from the 16th century, and the latest from a mid-19th century restoration. The church has been listed as a national protected site since 1968, however, it suffers greatly from humidity and dampness. Its conservation will contribute to revitalizing the entire site, which includes a variety of structures.
ST. NICOLA CHURCH
St. Nicola was built at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries. It has a rectangular floor plan and is barrel-vaulted with an east-facing apse. Its beautiful murals date from this period. The church was listed as a national protected site in 1956 but its roof leaks, some of the walls are cracked and its basement has been overrun by vegetation.