Preservation and protection of the Vushtrri/Vučitrn Castle

Dec 02 - 2014

The archaeological site ‘Vushtrri/Vučitrn Castle’ is located in the city centre and consists of building structures with layers of different historical periods. Although it was rebuilt several times, the castle has managed to survive until today. Some historians suggest that the castle was built in the 7th century during the Byzantine era. It is also suggested that the castle derives from the Illyrian-Dardanian period.

Because of its strategic position, at the time it was built and during Ottoman invasion, the castle was used for military needs. It was said that during the Ottoman invasion the castle was used as a prison and Turkish court. After that, it served as a weapons depot whereas the tower served as a granary and corn depot. In the 20th century, the castle was used as a prison, a place for keeping sheep, field for volleyball, etc. During 1955-1958 the castle was used as a cinema and restaurant and a plate for ballroom dance was put in the inner courtyard. The southern side of the castle, where the cabin for cinema projector was, has been covered with roof, whereas in the outer wall of the tower metal parts placed for the curtains for summer screenings are still visible today. The castle was used by citizens until 1962.

As an archaeological site, the castle has a lot of values ​​that indicate its role in the surrounding context and its function in the urban environment. The Castle has a big historical value, as a symbol for the city and its long history. Even though the Castle is dedicated to different uses, its main structure remains the same. The value of Vushtrri/Vučitrn castle lies not only in individual features. Along with the Hamam, stone bridge and mosques, the Castle contributes to the identity of the past of Vushtrri/Vučitrn. The castle was built in different periods of time, thus it has different layers of building materials, construction and building techniques. These interventions along with the proportions of spaces make the locality of a great architectural value.

Structural elements of the castle have been depreciated, not reviewed, not evaluated and close to complete decomposition. Besides the age, the locality is damaged as a result of weather conditions, constructive problems, wrong treatments, exposure to fire, vandalism, pollution and biological colonization. However, the main reason for its degradation is negligence and lack of maintenance.

Conservation and adaptation of Vushtrri/ Vučitrn castle was planned considering its status of protection, authenticity and integrity. Because the castle is a protected archaeological site, each intervention in its structure is reversible. All materials used are local and the same as the originals whereas the work is done with traditional building techniques by local craftsmen.

Besides the conservation of structure, Vushtrri/Vučitrn Castle will be adapted into a more functional space for the purpose of education and interpretation (archaeological museum) and artistic and cultural events (Meeting of the Poetesses). The adaption of the castle into a new function will enable all people regardless of age, gender, religion or ability, free access and use of the locality spaces. The adaptation works have started in October 2013 and are scheduled to end in May 2014.