One of the four Namazgah’s left in the Balkans is conserved

The restoration project of the Islam praying place – Namazgah of Opoja region, located in the village of Buzez of the municipality of Dragash, was elaborated by CHwB office in Kosovo and was approved by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport in October 2014. The conservation works started in late 2014 and were completed in October of 2015.

Islamic religious buildings – Namazgah’s although very scarce, they represent a great value for the material culture of the historical and cultural heritage of a country. According to current data, across the Balkans, today there are four of them survived, two in Kosovo (Prizren and Dragash, Buzez village), one in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one in Bulgaria.

The word Namazgah consists of two Persian words, namaz, which in means praying, and gah meaning place, arena, open space, which means an outdoor praying place. These structures, during the Ottoman period were traditionally built in the suburban areas where there were no mosques or masjids. These structures, built along the road on a platform raised up with some steps, were used by the community but also by the Ottoman troops. There is a large stone in Namazgah that symbolizes the direction of the Ka’aba, and in certain cases also the structure of the minbar.

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In the middle of the Opoja hollow, rises a slightly elevated hill, which looks like an artificial hill in the shape of ellipse, covered with poplar trees that preserves the ancient civilization and where the Islam praying place Namazgah of Opoja is located. Even though built in the territory of Buzez village, this building belongs to the whole region of Opoja, and is located to the left of the road Buzez- Bresanë villages. It is believed that in the ’20 s of the 16th century, the building was constructed by the Ottoman ruler Mehmet Kukli Bey. In 1530, Kukli Bey built the first mosque in this region and praying went from the open space into the mosque.

The conservation of this important monument was implemented by CHwB in two phases. The first phase was a priority, which involved cleaning works and removing the risk of further damage of the monument (building a temporary structure with wood scaffolding and construction, which protects the existing structures of the site, cleaning the walls parapet and the minaret from soil, from polluted surfaces and biological colonization). The second phase included the conservation and restoration works to ensure the stability of the monument and the retrieval of its key values. At this stage was also treated the space around the Namazgah, by paving the walking path and putting the necessary infrastructure, seats, lighting and signage.

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During this project, assistance was provided by the Regional Center for Cultural Heritage in Prizren, which previously developed archaeological excavation in the site, contributed in the elaboration of the existing condition and supervised the continuing conservation works.

This project was part of the priorities of the Local Cultural Heritage Plan of this municipality. This plan was drafted by CHwB, the Municipality of Dragash and other central institutions in the framework of the Program of Local Cultural Heritage Plans (2012-2015) and is co-financed by the Swedish government, through CHwB and the Municipality of Dragash.

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