Hiking the Prizren Ruins

Hiking up to the remains of the Prizren Fortress in the city of Prizren, Kosovo, requires fortitude, imagination, and a few extra breaths. Our hike was steep and burdened by unreliable knees but lightened by the questions of young and curious minds. My hiking companions ranged in age from two and a half to thirty-five who all sprinted up the cobbled path. The lessons were many: To appreciate history sometimes requires imagination, to appreciate the view requires eyes wide open, to appreciate wisdom requires pondering unanswerable questions. And to pause is divine.

As always, the effort given to arrive at the peak was rewarded with visual treats. The view was unencumbered and displayed a city tucked into the mountainside as if still protected by the mighty fortress above it. And why not? It had done so for over a thousand years.

Path to the Prizren Fortress

Visiting ruins is an exercise in imagination. The rubble shaped a skeleton outline of walls and buildings, sloping low to the ground or even connecting beneath the ground. You could imagine where one might have cooked food or stored grain or stashed ammunition or hidden themselves from the enemy.  You could imagine a coliseum area for performances of music or sport. You could imagine clashes at the walls as intruders emerged with fists and guns raised.

Ruins at the Prizren Fortress

As I looked around, I found myself asking questions. (Surprised?) For what purposes were the remaining buildings used? What type of everyday life was exercised here by the soldiers? What structures might have been completely destroyed upon attack with no remains to witness its existence hundreds of years later?  Why had some structures survived while others withered over time?

City of Prizren, Kosovo

If the ruins gave incomplete answers to its past activity, I merely turned in the direction of the city below to provide a quick assessment of the current-day life. The number of spires I counted on mosques and the number of crosses I counted on cathedrals gave way to the realization that the city below had embraced the diversity of all those who came here to conquer but left behind remnants of their culture. The Turks left their language, the Albanians left their history and their people, and the Ottomans left their architecture. They all left their food and drink.

Still, I pondered the purpose of so many conquerors who’d come to this land to vanquish. For a thousand years, rulers had sent their soldiers here. What was the reason? Was it land lust? Was it power thirst? Was it religious valor or intimidation?

Perhaps the most important lesson is to simply appreciate moments of peace on a lovely hike with loved ones and pause for a cool selfie. Divine.

Me and my adventurous niece, Brittani.


  1. Such good memories! I like your observation of what every culture left behind. Beautiful view at the top. Makes the struggle bus worth it.

  2. Just another example of how deep you think and ponder !! I love it 🥰. Great picture of you and Brittani by the way ❤️❤️

  3. Refreshing observation! Love your writing. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and perspective.

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