04 March 2016

Exploring Voskopoja, once the 2nd largest city of the Ottoman Balkans after Istanbul

By Gulia Blocal

We left the car right outside the entrance of Voskopoja. The parking lot was empty and the village looked deserted, apart from a few old men drinking and smoking under the porch of the local bar. Our plan was to visit the frescoed churches, which recall a time when Voskopoja was a cosmopolitan metropolis, a centre of arts and cultures and the second largest city of the Ottoman Balkans after Istanbul.

This mountain village in south-eastern Albania isn’t mentioned in guidebooks, so without any information on how to visit its Byzantine churches we just took the first street off the parking lot and walked our way through the village.

The street was unpaved and the air smelled of that pungent mix of cut grass and goats; we walked past small stone houses until we finally found the first church, enclosed by the traditional wall of red stones, with its Byzantine frescoes in plain view under the covered porch.

We got closer, took our cameras out of the bags and pushed the gate, but it was locked and we couldn’t get in.

 Read more: http://www.blocal-travel.com/road-trip/voskopoja-albania/

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