Orahovac

Orahovac

Orahovac is small town in south-western part of the Serbian Province of Kosovo and Metohija which comprises the Municipality of Orahovac and 35 surrounding villages. This town is situated between towns of Djakovica, Decani, Prizren and Pec in southwest part of Kosovo and Metohija and covers the tiny surface of the smallest Serbian ghetto. Estimated total population of the town of Orahovac is 73300, inhabited with majority of Albanians, who mostly live in villages, while about 23200 inhabitants live in the town itself. Kosovo Serb society in Orahovac numbers about 800 inhabitants who live in the Upper part of the town of Orahovac, some 400 to 500 people, and in the next village of Velika Hoca there is also small Serb enclave of approximately 700 Serb and Roma people.

The Clock Tower – the Sahat kula has been built on the remains of the old town of Gradina and makes particular symbol of the old part of Orahovac. The Clock tower of Orahovac was built during the Turkish rule in 1813 by Mahmud-pasha Rotulovic who along with the Turkish and Albanian volunteer soldiers fought against the Karadjordje rebells after the conquest of Belgrade and Smederevo. The churches were looted there and three bells were brought to Prizren, Orahovac and Mamusa near Prizren and put as parts of the newly build towers. There was the large bell on the Clock Tower in Orahovac that by legend was a gift from the Princess Milica in Orahovac that was in 1908 transferred by the Muslims of Orahovac from the destroyed Clock tower in Velika Hoca. After the liberation from the Turkish occupation the keys of the Clock Tower in Orahovac were kept by the Serb families who lived nearby and have conveyed this role from generation to generation until the Kosovo war in 1999 when they were forced to leave this part of the town. Vuk Lukić Kulturanadar

The Church of Ascention of the Holy Virgin in Orahovac features excellent location as was built in the center of the settlement, on the slope of the hill above the nearby crossroad with four streets radiating from there. It is separated from the street by a stone wall with fence. There are two entrances with stairs leading to the churchyard of the Orahovac church. The Church of the Ascension of the Holy Virgin in Orahovac was built in 1859 on which testifies the plaque above the main entrance from 1909 which probably was the year when the reconstruction works were carried out. The Church of the Ascension of the Holy Virgin in Orahovac features three-aisled basis, with eight-sided outer apse and the semi-circular inner apse.  The floor of the church was completed by large stone labs. Th eight-sided apse and the walls of the church nave were constructed from stone labs of various sizes. The portal of the southern wall was built with semi-circular stone lintels and stone door jambs. Above the southern portal the stone plaque was built-in with carved year of 1871. The three figures and a bird are carved there. Year of 1842 is carved on the northern wall and there are visible carved motifs with years carved on the apse columns. In regard with the year of construction the iconostasis belongs to somewhat monumental type with the barrier not positioned in a straight line, as it is folded back in the middle of the altar space for the width of columns. Darko Antić

All the Serbs of Orahovac live in depressive monotony and constant fear, kept as prisoners in their own land, depending on the humanitarian aid and without any income. The spirit of Orahovac population is truly something worth of admiration. You can get to the Serbian part of Orahovac along the so-called “Serb streets”. The part of the street in Orahovac, bordering the Albanian part was totally burnt and devastated during and after the Kosovo conflict. The previous small town of Orahovac with its own Assembly, Court and the Gymnasium turned into the concentration camp for Serbs, living in barbed wire. In the 21st century the people of Orahovac are living in ghetto which comprises of 500 meters in 2-3 streets where they are allowed to move relatively freely. They’re constantly intimidated by Albanian majority and thus protected by KFOR troops and need permit to leave the town. There are about 550 Roma and Egyptians and Ashkali population living in the Upper part of the town.

Since the conflict in 1999 in Kosovo and Metohija, nine settlements of Orahovac Municipality were established with the mixed population of Serbs and Albanians. Economy in Orahovac is based mostly on agriculture, especially grape growing and wine production. Serbs in Orahovac municipality put lots of efforts to revive production of highest quality Orahovac red wine, which During Yugoslavia made famous this area and the PKB “Orvin”, whose entire production was exported, mostly to Germany. Today they assist the small wine producers to achieve their wine production, as their only income.

There is weak wheat and corn production, and limited cattle breeding. Education in Orahovac reflects the ethnic division in the region of Kosovo and Metohija, and most schools are divided by ethnicity. Albanian children go to 19 Albanian schools, and one Gymnasium in two towns of 2 conceptions. Serbian children may approach and go only to the Vuk Karadzic elementary school and one Gymnasium, situated in uninhabited part of the town. Serbs live in the Upper part of Orahovac, in radius of 500 meters around the Orthodox Church, surrounded with wire and invisible border of the town with over 20000 Albanians. Time has stopped for Serbs in Orahovac. There are more than 50 abandoned Serb houses, from whose yards one can see abducted grape vines. There’s 3 Serbian small shops where Serbs can buy usual products, a small market on the square once a week, a small football field, two bars and one restaurant…

Since the time of Albanian rule in Orahovac, after the Kosovo conflict in 1990-ies, Serbs remain without phone lines, with possible threat of electricity lack. After arrival of the KFOR soldiers in June 1999, terrorists of UCK-KLA kidnapped 43 civilians of the town whose destiny is still unknown. The only hope for Serbs kept in Orahovac ghetto is the bus line to Zvecan and Gracanica towns, which is to operate, as UNMIK promised, twice a week. Serbs don’t really dare to go downtown Orahovac and they’ve found a way to live on their own…

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