Dr. Fejaz Drancolli
Dr. Fejaz Drancolli has an enormous job. As director of the Institute
for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Pristina, he has witnessed
the destruction of hundreds of historic monuments throughout Kosovo
by Serb forces. Now he is tirelessly cataloguing the damage and
working with the new UNMIK Department of Culture to monitor the
slow and painstaking task of rebuilding.
I fear that I will die before I see one Kulla
rebuilt, said Drancolli. Kullas are unique Albanian-style
stone mansions built between the 18th and early 20th centuries.
Of the 500 Kullas existing prior to the war, 450 suffered damage
by Serb forces intent on eradicating all traces of Albanian culture
in Kosovo. Fortunately they were not as successful as they were
in parts of Bosnia where, not only did they destroy mosques in Banja
Luka and Foca, they carted away the stones and made a parking lot.
Of the more than 600 mosques in Kosovo, greater than
200 were damaged or destroyed during the war. Andras Riedlmayer,
from the Cambridge-based Kosovo Cultural Heritage Project, documented
how Serb paramilitaries burnt, bombed, and vandalized mosquessometimes
tearing leaves from ancient Koran manuscripts and writing crude
anti-Albanian graffiti on the walls.
When we first met Drancolli in February 2000 at his
office in Pristina, he was working in an unheated building without
electricity. By the summer, the electricity was more reliable (barely),
but Drancolli was fighting new battles with UNMIK who wanted to
remove him from his beloved institute. In the photo at right, he
is escorting us through Peja, jesturing in the direction of the
Rugova Gorge, the impenetrable Mountains of the Damned, and a nearby
mosque that miraculously withstood the war. On the far right is
a Catholic Church, rare in most of Kosovo but not in Peja which
is near the Albanian border. A half-mile up the gorge is the most
famous of all Serb religious sites in Kosovo, the Patriarchate of
Pec, now under continuous KFOR protection. Although Drancolli considers
the Patriarchate an important part of Albanian heritage and has
visited it many times, he is now
prohibited from entering.