Kulla Osdautaj, Kosovo

Built over three stories, with stone walls up to one-metre thick, Kullas acted as fortified family homes during the unstable times in western Kosovo the late 18th and early 19th century.

Squat, square and easy to defend, it was not uncommon for families to spend months within their walls, waiting for the danger from marauders to pass.

The Osdautaj family have been living in their Kulla in Isniq for almost 220 years. It was restored with funding from a joint EU-Swedish program and now acts as a living museum.

After paying your €1 to the young boys playing within the compound you can wander through the building, seeing how families lived – and continue to live – in these incredibly self-sufficient buildings.

See that wooden box at the top of the steps in the picture in the gallery below? It serves as an entrance to the first floor now, but originally it was the building’s toilet. The waste would drop into a canal below and automatically channeled into the fields to act as fertiliser.

On the top floor you’ll find the oda e burrave, an area that was the exclusive preserve of male members of the family and their male guests.

Coffee was prepared by the younger men and served to the elders sitting on heavily embroidered cushions, scattered across the floor.

Times have changed. These days Mrs Osdautaj uses the room to hang out the washing.

Boys 'guarding' the entrance to Kulla Osdautaj.

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