The site

Prizren is the second most populous city of the Republic of Kosovo. It is located on the banks of the Prizren River between the foothills of the Sharr Mountains in southern Kosovo.

Prizren is considered by many as the historical capital of the country due to its long influence in the development of the nation’s spirit. Archaeological excavations in Prizren Fortress indicate that the area has seen habitation and use since the Bronze Age. In late antiquity the fortress was part of the defensive fortification system in western Dardania and the fort was reconstructed in the era of eastern Roman Emperor Justinian. Byzantine rule in the region ended definitively in 1219/20 as the Serbian Nemanjic dynasty controlled the fort and the town until 1371. The Ottoman Empre assumed direct control of the site after 1450.

Prizren was the cultural and intellectual centre of Ottoman Kosovo. It was dominated by its Muslim population, who composed over 70% of its population in 1857. Around this time, the city became a major Albanian cultural centre and a place of political organisation for the Kosovar Albanians. During the late 19th century, the city became a focal point for Albanian nationalism and saw the creation in 1878 of the “League of Prizren”, a movement formed to seek the national unification and autonomy of Albanians within the Ottoman Empire.

Nowadays, the municipality of Prizren is still the most culturally and ethnically heterogeneous of Kosovo, retaining communities of Bosniaks, Kosovo Serbs, Turks, and Romani in addition to the majority Kosovo Albanian population who live in Prizren. Furthermore, Prizren's Turkish community is socially prominent and influential, and the Turkish language is widely spoken even by non-ethnic Turks.

With such a wealthy history of multiculturalism, and a heritage that can be traced back to antiquity, it is no surprise that the city has developed a unique character as well as a strong intangible tradition that still persists. An example of this is the famous art of silversmithing and silver filigree, which is today strongly associated with the cultural identity of Prizren.

Silversmithing did not originate in Kosovo, but Kosovo became by the 19th century especially famous throughout the Ottoman Empire and beyond because of the quality and mastery of its artisans. The filigree technique was inherited over the centuries; the artisans started working with their fathers from a very young age and kept their craftsmanship styles as a family secret passed on through generations, allowing them to perfectionate this art. This made their technique, style and motifs unique and highly appreciated.

During the height of silversmithing, Kosovo had its own silver mines in Trepca and Novoberda and jewellers had plenty of raw materials to work with. But silver is no longer extracted in Kosovo; therefore the remaining artisans have to import it, barely covering their costs. The political turmoil in the region as well as a waning interest in the trade due to the high costs of production eventually discouraged the continuation of the tradition. The trade had a renaissance period during the 1980s, where the Kosovar filigree craft flourished again in Prizren, when the city came to host around two hundred artisans. However, the trade suffered a great blow during and in the aftermath of the war in the 1990s, where most of the artisans left to seek more stable and lucrative markets in Dubrovnik and the Croatian coast. Today, there are now roughly ten families left working in silver in Prizren.

Nonetheless, there is a strong interest on behalf of the local community and the government of the Republic of Kosovo to revive this important aspect of Prizren’s cultural identity. For this reason, there have been initiatives to protect and promote the transmission of this important intangible heritage to the new generations while helping create a legal framework that recognises it as such. The newly revived tourism industry is also providing the necessary market to help the artisans become again competitive producers of this craft, which is slowly but successfully seeing a gradual return to the historic streets of this enchanting city.


The training course

The project is supported by relevant actors in the local community of artisans and the government of Kosovo, who actively work for the revival of this technique as well as for its international recognition as part of Kosovo’s heritage. Since this art and its secrets have survived over the centuries passed on from generation to generation, it is important that an interest in learning about it and its relevance continues to be cultivated amongst the population. The training course will provide a good example for the development of an educational concept to teach this trade, while raising awareness about its importance.

During the first week of training course, the participants will be instructed on all the steps that are required in the production of these delicate silver objects. The theoretical background of the craft as well as the practical techniques involved in the process will be carefully transmitted to the participants under the guidance of two silversmiths with decades of experience in the art. 

During the second week of the training course, the participants will focus on carrying out a detailed documentation work on the process of silversmithing. This will involve carrying out qualitative research where the participants will ask open-ended questions to converse with the silversmiths and collect elicit data about the trade and its importance for the city’s historical identity.

The training course will be complemented by a comprehensive educational programme that will allow the participants to familiarise themselves with the tangible as well as the intangible heritage of Kosovo.


The training course will take place from September, 26th, to October, 9th, 2022, and is jointly organised by Kosovo Council for Cultural Heritage and European Heritage Volunteers.


European Heritage Volunteers