Prizren is the second most populous city and municipality of Kosovo and seat of the eponymous municipality and district. It is located on the banks of the Prizren River between the foothills of the Sharr Mountains in southern Kosovo. Prizren experiences an oceanic climate under the influence of the surrounding mountains.
Prizren is constitutionally designated as the historical capital of the country. Archaeological excavations in Prizren Fortress indicate that its fortress area has seen habitation and use since the Bronze Age. Prizren has been traditionally identified with the settlement of Theranda in Roman Dardania, although other locations have been suggested in recent research. In late antiquity it was part of the defensive fortification system in western Dardania and the fort was reconstructed in the era of eastern Roman Emperor Justinian. Byzantine rule in the region ended definitively in 1219-20 as the Serbian Nemanjić dynasty controlled the fort and the town until 1371. Since 1371, a series of regional feudal rulers came to control Prizren: the Balšić, the Dukagjini, the Hrebeljanović and finally the Branković, often with Ottoman support. The Ottoman Empire assumed direct control after 1450. Prizren first developed in the area below the fortress which overlooks the Bistrica river on its left bank. Since the 16th century, economic development fueled the expansion of the city’s neighbourhoods to the river’s right bank.
Prizren was the cultural and intellectual centre of Ottoman Kosovo. It was dominated by its Muslim population, who composed over 70% of its population in 1857. The city became a major Albanian cultural centre and the coordination political and cultural capital of the Kosovar Albanians. In 1871, a long Serbian seminary was opened in Prizren, discussing the possible joining of the old Serbia’s territories with the Principality of Serbia. It was an important part of Kosovo Vilayet between 1877 and 1912.