The Ottomans conquered the Serbs and this part of the Balkans in the 15th Century, converting the population to Islam. There are many mosques throughout Kosovo, some truly historic and many exquisite in terms of their architectural design. Since Kosovan independence in 2007, there’s been a serious movement to restore many of them to their former glory, helped by substantial Turkish funding.
Sunni Islam is the dominant branch here, but there’s also a very old, active Bektashi Sufi sect, which is particularly strong in neighbouring Albania. It’s widely acknowledge that Kosovo practises one of the most relaxed forms of Islam anywhere in the world. Sadly, this has been countered by the insertion of Saudi Arabian funding to spread Wahabbism, with new, brash looking mosques springing up around the country, many without planning permission, taking advantage of a disenfranchised population and serious levels of unemployment. This has resulted in a notable rise in extremism, with several hundred followers enlisting for jihad and going to Syria and other theatres of war to fight for ISIS. However, overall, Islam in Kosovo remains peaceful and chilled, especially in the capital, Pristina.
A view from the centre of Pristina towards Carshi Mosque.