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Velika Hoča

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Velika Hoča

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Church of Saint John the Baptist.

Velika Hoča (local dialect: Golema Oča, Albanian: Hoça e Madhe) is a Serbian village located in the Metohija region of Kosovo, near the town of Orahovac. It was first mentioned in history in 1198, but the region itself was populated even during antiquity. The village is famous for its viticulture, a tradition that also dates back to the antiquity, and its 13 medieval churches.

Understand[edit]

Velika Hoča is a small village of about 700 inhabitants, and is one of the few remaining Serbian enclaves in the region of Metohija, after the ethnic cleansing of the local Serbian populace in 1999 and the pogrom of 2004. It is largely neglected by the government, and people are often provoked by Albanians from neighboring villages. However, due to the village's homogenous population, it was largely spared the destruction, but has since been enclosed like a ghetto.

Since the life in Velika Hoča is largely confined within the borders of the village, many locals will speak very little of any foreign language, but you can expect English and German to be understood by at least some of them. Russians, and speakers of other Slavic languages, may find it easier to communicate, due to language proximity. Most of the locals understand Albanian, but may be unwilling to speak it; still, don't expect any problems to occur because of it. The main language is a local dialect of Serbian.

Get in[edit]

Getting into Velika Hoča is not an easy task, since there is no public transportation going in this direction. The easiest way would be to reach the town of Orahovac (Alb. Rrahovec), from Pristina or Prizren, and then take a taxi from there to Velika Hoča. From Orahovac, you can also reach the village on foot, the distance is around 4 km. You can ask for directions in the Serbian (northern) quarter of the town, around the local church, and they will be happy to show you the way. Please note that there have been reported incidents of attacks on Serbs on the road, so be careful.

Church of Saint Stephen.

Get around[edit]

Velika Hoča is a small village, so everything can be reached on foot.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Church of Saint Stephen the Archdeacon is located in the centre of the city. It was built in the XIV century, and expanded in 1853. XVI century frescoes are still visible in the altar. The church also houses a nice (although not too big) collection of old icons and other church items. It is the only church in the village that is always open for visits. If you wish to visit any other church, you should ask the priest about it. Often the other churches are used for celebrating the liturgy on their feast days.
  • Church of Saint Nicholas is located on the hill above the village, next to the cemetary. It was erected in XIV century, and renovated around 1577.
  • Church of Saint John the Baptist was also erected in the XIV century, and its frescoes, having undergone restoration in the 70's, are still visible in the altar and the south wall of the main nave. It is located in the south-east part of the village.
  • Church of Saint Anne is located in the centre of the village, and it was built in 1912 on the foundations of an older church building.
  • Other churches in the village include Church of Saint Luke the Apostle, Church of Saint Elijah the Prophet, Church of Saint Kyriaki, Church of Saint Petka, Church of Saint Gabriel the Archangel, Church of Saint Peter the Apostle (in ruins), Church of the Holy Virgin Mary and the Church of Our Saviour.
Tower of Lazar Kujundžić.
  • Dečani Vinery (Dečanska vinica) is located in a medieval building the centre of the village, and it is the main location where famous Dečani wine is produced. It houses a small chapel dedicated to Saint Tryphon, the patron saint of winegrowers.
  • Tower of Lazar Kujundžić is a memorial complex built in 1936, in remembrance of famous warrior Lazar Kujundžić and his comrades, who fought against the Ottomans and perished in 1905.
  • There are many XIX century residential buildings still preserved throughout the village, although somewhat dilapidated, but it is well worth a stroll.
  • Monument to murdered and kidnapped Serbs from Orahovac region (1998-2000) is located in the centre of the village, and it was built in 2009.

Do[edit][add listing]

Take a walk around the village's 13 churches in a place where very little has changed since the end of the XIX century. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and fresh air of Metohija. Taste the famous Dečani wine at the Dečanska vinica in the centre of the city. Learn and feel the realities of life in a ghetto.

Dečani Vinery.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Being in complete isolation, the village lacks pretty much everything of the modern day commodities. The only place where you can buy something is the Dečanska vinica (Dečani Vinery) in the centre of the village, where you can buy exquisite local wine.

You can also ask the locals or your host to buy some other village products, like cheese or honey, if they have any available. Many villagers also produce their own wine and rakija (fruit brandy).

Eat[edit][add listing]

This secluded village has no restaurants or cafés, except for one multipurpose building/tavern in the centre, next to the main church, where villagers gather every day. The best solution is to see with your host to prepare meals for you, or to let you meddle around the kitchen. Local food can often be heavy on grilled meat, but is delicious.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Since there are no restaurants or cafés, you can only expect to find some drinks (beer, soda, juice, depending on the situation) in the small tavern next to the main church.

You can also have a drink with the monks in the Dečanska vinica, if they are not too busy with their daily routines.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Velika Hoča in summer.

There are no hotels or motels in the village, but the villagers are well organized and receive tourists in their homes. It is perfectly safe, and the hygiene should also be no problem. Excursions coming from Serbia often spend the night in the village, and there is always room for a full bus of people, so it is not hard to find a place to sleep. Expect the price to be around €10 per person.

You can ask in the main church for the priest, father Milenko, or his wife to recommend somebody to you, or simply ask around in the village. If, by any chance, there is no place in Hoča, they might help you to find accommodation with a family in Orahovac.

Get out[edit]

  • Orahovac (Alb. Rrahovec) is the closest town to Velika Hoča. The city is divided into the Albainan quarter in the south, and the Serbian/Romany quarter in the north. There is a Serbian Orthodox church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary, located in the centre of the Serbian quarter. It was erected in 1859. There is also an Ottoman clock tower from 1815 in the centre of town.
Zočište Monastery.
  • Zočište Monastery is located in an eponymous village some 4 km east from Velika Hoča, and can be reached on foot. The monastery is dedicated to Saints Cosmas and Damian, and it was built in the XIII century. It was bombed and destroyed to the ground by Albanian terrorists in 1999, but has been rebuilt in 2008, and is again an active male monastery. It houses a holy and wonder-working icon of the Saints Cosmas and Damian from the XIV century, venerated by Orthodox Serbs and Muslim Albanians alike, which was salvaged from the ruins. Monastery has a small gift shop. Entrance is free.

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