The Vushtrri Castle is an archaeological site located in the town of Vushtrri; it has already been conserved and revitalised. The guests that took part in the inaugural ceremony for the completion of works included the Director of CHwB Sali Shoshi, the US Ambassador to Prishtina Tracey Jacobson, the Mayor of Vushtrri Bajram Mulaku and the General Secretary for the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport (MCYS) Veton Ferizi.
Sali Shoshi stated that the CHwB has followed the principle of conserving the remaining parts of the Castle, to continually create new public spaces giving better functioning activities to the public. The space in the main tower has been converted into a new exhibition area.
The US Ambassador, Tracey Jacobson stated that this was a wonderful restoration project within the framework of national heritage of Kosova. ”I was present here, maybe more than a year and a half ago and the view now is totally different” Jacobson also adds that the newly created space can now be used again by the public. She also mentioned the investment to the Hamam located in the same town.
The mayor of Vushtrri, Bajram Mulaku, valued the investment in the restoration project of the Castle of Vushtrri. He stated “with restoring and adding new functions to this building along with the Hamam, Vushtrri has taken a new approach in developing its culture and tourism”.
The General Secretary Ferizi added that the Castle of Vushtrri was always considered as a priority from MCYS, he also showed his appreciation to all the partners for their help and support in saving and promoting our cultural heritage.
THE PRESERVATION AND PROTECTION OF VUSHTRRI CASTLE
Archaeological site ‘Vushtrri Castle” is located in the town centre and it consists of numerous layered building structures added during various historical periods. Considering that it has been rebuilt numerous times, the Castle is still standing strong today. Some historians suggest that the Castle could have been built during the 7th century in the Byzantine Period. Some also suggest that the Castle stems from Iliryan-Dardan period. Because of its strategic location the Castle was used for military purposes from when it was built and during the Ottoman Rule. It was said that during the Ottoman times the Castle was also used as a prison and a Turkish court house. Later on the Castle found its use as an ammunition warehouse with the tower having the function of the granary for storing corn.
In the 20th century the Castle was used for a variety of things, including a prison, granary and a place to play volleyball. During the years of 1955-1958 the Castle was used as a cinema and a restaurant whilst the inner court received a circular paving area used as an open ballroom. In the southern part you could also find the film projector cabin covered with a roof. Even today you can still spot the metal brackets in the outer wall of the Castle that had been used for the hanging of the curtains during the movies shown in the summer season. The castle continued to be used by its citizens until 1962.
As an archaeological site, The Vushtrri Castle is an important asset, especially with its role in the contexts of its surroundings and urban function. The historical value of this Castle makes it a symbol of the long history of Vushtrri town. Even though the Castle has been used for different purposes in the past its main structure still remains the same. The individual characteristics of the Castle are not its only value. Together with the towns old Hamam, the Stone Bridge and the rest of the mosques, the Castle remains as the main focal point in identifying the historical past of the town of Vushtrri. The Castle was repeatedly built during many periods of time; therefore it has different layers of building materials and construction techniques. These interventions together with the proportion of spaces within, always add up to the architectural value of the Castle. Structural elements of the Castle were left to deteriorate, with no research thought gone into it, gradually losing its value and very close to its destruction. Putting aside the actual age of the building, this location was also left exposed to the harsh weather conditions, its structural issues, incorrect treatments, exposed to fire, vandalism, biological colonization and pollution. However, it can clearly be stated that one of the main reasons contributing to the degrading of the building was due to the neglect and inappropriate maintenance.
Conservation and the adopting (revitalizing) of the Vushtrri Castle were planned, taking into consideration the need for its protective status, authenticity and integrity. Allowing for the fact that the Castle is a protected archaeological site, every structural intervention done on site is reversible. The majority of the building materials used for conservation is the same as the original ones and the work was executed using the traditional craftsman and building techniques.
Apart from conserving the remaining structures (the surrounding walls of the Castle), the Castle has been modified into a very functional space that will promote education and performance (open archaeological museum) and is an outstanding platform for future artistic and cultural events. Giving the Castle a new function makes it very accessible for everyone regardless of their age, gender, religion or ability. The renovations enable all too freely use and enjoy the new spaces and functions of the building. The project work started in October 2013 and ended in August of 2014, when the location was open to the general public.
Implementing Period February 2012-August 2014
This project was financed by the US Embassy in Prishtina
Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and the Vushtrri Municipality