KOSOVO is so small that staying in either of these cities, you could visit the other. However, I wouldn’t recommend that. Despite their similarities as historic trading cities, they are both quite different. Pec, also known as Peja, was our first stop in Kosovo. We quickly discovered just how friendly and helpful the Kosova people are.
Long, historical bazaars dominate both Gjakova....
...and Pec, with Pec being the busier of the two.
Both cities have historic religious buildings to visit. Churches and monastaries in or near Pec....
....and Gjakova noted more for its mosques.
Despite quite similar populations, Gjakova feels much smaller and quieter.
Pec's main bazaar street feels more modern.
While the bazaar spreads out in several directions.
There's a distinctly modern section, full of cafes, hotels and hustle, with some stark, brutalist architecture, too.
The new sector doesn't infringe on the old, with plenty of old buildings preserved.
And around the cafes and fountains and kebab stands, there is no mistaking that this is an old, Balkan town.
There are actualy some nice walks along the river out of Pec, through parklands and cafes and river beaches.
And with a good set of legs, you can easily reach the Monastery of the Patriarchate of Pec, seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church for 700 years.
You'll need some wheels and maybe an engine to visit the Decan Monastry.
It's more or less halfway between the two cities, so you could visit from either.
The church was founded in the 14th century by Stefan Dečanski, King of Serbia.
Longin, a famed painter-monk, spent two decades working n the frescoes.
What you see is the original work, in remarkable condition.
While the Ottoman forces did plunder the church, they inflicted no real damage.
Given the historical conflict, as well as ongoing tensions, it is remarkable that it survives at all. UN forces still protect the church.
You'll need a passport to enter, and you won't get inside the church if your legs are not covered.
Gjakova suffered quite horrifically during Kosovo's war of independence.
Large parts of the centuries old bazaar were destroyed, along with other heritage buildings.
The kilometre long bazaar has been rebuilt, faithful to its original design.
Some of the shops are occupied by less traditional businesses- like pet washing services!
A large number of shops sell traditional goods, such as clothing, horse riders' supplies, etc, but local consumption, not tourist trade.
Makers of baby's cots thrive in Gjakova, their colourful "Djepaxhiu" sought far and wide. They are quite used to nosy tourists, too.
The old Hudam Mosque in the centre of town is often closed.
The imam will usually appear and open it up. Small but beautiful, with distintcive Kosova decorations.
Many family homes have survived centuries of turmoil. Many remian just that -homes- but others serve as restaurants, museums and guest houses.
Strolling south of town takes you through roadside markets, past more churches and mosques.
On the edge of town is one of several stone, Ottoman bridges in the area.
There is much to see in Gjakova (and Pec) if you can find the time.