Novi Pazar is the cultural capital for Bosniaks living in Serbia and as the many minarets indicate, the town is still predominately Bosniak.
For 500 years Novi Pazar was an important city for those traveling by horse or on foot between the Adriatic Coast and Serbia, serving as a stopover and major crossroads for journeys in the Balkans. And indeed, we spent a night in Novi Pazar because it was the perfect stopping point on the road from Bulgaria to Montenegro.
Novi Pazar means “new marketplace” and we witnessed what seemed like the whole town out shopping for unleavened Turkish bread, clothing, household goods and shoes in numerous outdoor markets around town.
Compared to Novi Sad in Northern Serbia, Novi Pazar seems like a different world. We ventured to the park above town and looked over several mosques whose minarets are visible over the low Turkish style buildings which dominate the architecture on the east side of the Raska River. When we walked out of the park we saw a bulletin board full of burial notices, all but one in green, the traditional color of Islam.
The northern side of town is more modern with tall buildings and a main promenade full of cafes and more shopping. We ate doner kebabs and watched the people of the city spend their evening talking in cafes and gathering around the main fountain. Molly immediately noticed that, being back in a Muslim town, women were scarce on the main promenade and it was mostly men out in the cafes.
With the evening adhan (Muslim call to prayer) sounding off all over the city, Molly (dessert in hand) and I walked back to our hotel along the Raska river that divides the city. but not before taking a shaky, 15 second video (easier said than done when you’re also trying to eat a waffle).