The kulla, which means tower in Albanian, is mainly seen in the western part of Kosovo. It is a distinctive traditional style of the Dukagjini plain that borders Montenegro, west of Kosovo. Kullas were mostly constructed between the end of the 18th century and the first decades of the 20th century, and inhabited by generations of families.
The kulla has either two or three floors and is mostly square in plan. They were usually utilized by the men of the family, while women and children lived in an attached annex having the same number of floors or less (Fig.1). Animals were kept in the ground floor and the upper floor was used by the men of the house and their guests. There are usually two entrances and staircases. One for the guests, from the main entrance, leading directly to the upper floor and the guest room without passing through the family private quarters. Another for the women, from the side entrance, leading to the middle floor if the kulla has three floors, or to the main floor in case of two floors.
Only the lower floor walls remain intact in this two-storey, stone kulla, which was damaged during the conflict and is now uninhabited.
Shushice e Ulet, Istok, Kosovo Autonomous Province
Rassam, Sahar. 2001. Traditional Houses in Western Kosovo: A Descriptive Survey of Kullas in the Municipalities of Istok and Klina. (unpublished paper)
The Kosovo conflict rendered a heavy toll on the housing stock; more than one third of the houses were damaged and destroyed. In the western part of Kosovo the damage was more intense and amounted to around 80% of the total, due to concentrated militia resistance. Neglect and lack of maintenance in about ten years of instability also played a role. International organizations came to Kosovo in the summer of 1999 and started the reconstruction campaign. Traditional houses received their share of the destruction, but they were overlooked in the reconstruction process.
A paper describing the traditional kulla by Sahar Rassam, Former Housing Coordinator and Municipal Housing Committee Chair, United Nations Mission In Kosovo