Prizren has no less than 26 mosques, about one per city district, many of them from the Ottoman period. The city skyline - best viewed from the fortress - is dominated by their minarets. Built by local craftsmen using local decorative elements, but greatly influenced by Ottoman culture, these graceful buildings were designed with soaring interior spaces that formed a unity with the dome, porch and minaret on the exterior. They were neglected for many years, but recent restoration projects, often funded and coordinated by Turkey, have seen several buildings restored. Visitors are very welcome to visit, though many mosques are frequently locked up outside prayer times. Time your visit from 12:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00, or a little while after the call for prayer when people leave the mosque. Photography is not a problem, though you need be modestly dressed and take your shoes off to enter.

Mosque basics
Like churches, mosque design around the world adheres to certain rules. There's usually a dome on the building, a slender minaret tower beside it for the call to prayer (ezan) five times per day, and a porch where the faithful can take off their shoes. A washing area is provided for ablutions before prayers. The building is always set so that the mihrab (veneration niche) is pointing to the holy city of Mecca, with to the right of it a mimber (pulpit), often consisting of a steep staircase with a pointy tower on top. Larger mosques are often part of a walled complex with a garden, graves, sometimes a tyrbe (mausoleum) and dershana (library), and a madrasa and maktab (religious primary and secondary schools). Subtle painted and ceramic decorations are common, though these never portray people or animals and usually focus on floral or geometric patterns, ornaments and arabeska (Arabic calligraphy).

Prizren » Sightseeing » Mosques

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