Well defended monastery
Pec Travel Blog› entry 2 of 18 › view all entries
I start out the day heading towards a little town called Peje, Pecs or Peja depending on which language you like to speak. I guess the Albanian version of the name is Peje - hence it is the most common version in use. It is in principle a short ride, but we have to go along the hopeless airport road, which makes even short journeys longer than they should be.
I get to town and it
is a nice little town in the mountains with lots on snow on top - despite the
spring temperatures down in the city in the valley it must still be pretty cold
up on top of the small mountains - which is actually not so small and is among
the tallest in the country. I wander around the city for a while searching for
an old monastery which is just a bit outside the city - but I walk and walk -
and the city just go on and on - even though I constantly think it will end
just around the next corner.
I find the taxi and he tells me he will go there for 2€ which sounds like a fair price. I get in and we go down the road - the road I just walk back and forth on - and we drive just a little bit further down and then he stops at a military checkpoint. I think we just need to be checked before leaving town. But no we are here I should just have gone on for another 4-500 meters and I would have made it. Well I get out and is confronted by an Italian heavily armed guard carrying big weapons which to me looks like semiautomatic rifles - but keep in mind I am not an expert in Italian military equipment and it might have been something completely different - like an oversized fountain pen.
I am not allowed in
immediately. First I need to show ID - great I left my passport where I stay -
I try giving him my driver’s license hoping it will do the trick - and it do.
I walk up the hill towards the monastery expecting to be met by somebody when I get there - after all my arrival was announced. But when I get to the entrance there is nobody there - I look in - no nobody seems to take any notice of this strange tourist arriving. I must be at the wrong place so I walk a bit further to see if there is another entrance - no there is not - I was clearly looking in at the right spot in the first place. I go back down and have a look in. There is still nobody around. But I walk in and go to the church there is a nun sleeping at a bench behind a small stall with postcards and other souvenirs. I ask her if it is ok to take pictures inside the church - unfortunately it is not - but it is ok outside.
I go in and have a
look at the church - it is very nice with a big main hall and three side halls
all of which is very nicely decorated with old frescoes.
Then I head down the hill from the monastery to collect my driver’s license. I ask if it is ok to take a picture just of the entrance gate to the monastery without any of the KFOR forces or barbwire in the picture - but I get a firm no from the Italian speaking chief of the guards. I head away a bit disturbed by the fact that a international force is necessary to protect a monastery from being destroyed as a result of a ethnic conflicted in Europe at this day and age.