The capital of Kosovo, Pristina, has a population of 200.000 and is rapidly expanding. To put it another way, there is a lot of construction going on all around the city, and if you go back later, you’ll be shocked at how much has changed in such a short period.
Pristina’s first impression is likely to be one of a chaotic synergy fueled by clogged streets, people who seem unconcerned with the little traffic regulations in place, and loud construction noises that merge in with the echoes of ancient monastery bells and the muezzin’s call from the mosque.
Despite the overwhelming pandemonium might be your first impression, Pristina will capture your heart if you give it a chance and make sure you delve deep into its vibrant atmosphere.
You will need two full days at least to soak up the city’s atmosphere and, no matter what you do, always remember to interact with people and that you chose this city to embrace some new knowledge. Allow yourself to completely savor this experience and make sure to check out the following places:
The Kosovo National Museum is located in the heart of Pristina and is one of the most important cultural and historical institutions in the country. This lovely ochre-colored structure was built in 1898 by Austro-Hungarians. The museum housed an extraordinarily extensive prehistoric collection until 1998, when the majority of it was taken to Belgrade during the recent war.
Nowadays, it is a home to a large collection of artifacts and objects related to the history of Kosovo, from prehistoric times to the present day. It is a proud exhibitor of the extensive archeological exhibit containing the items back from the Illyrian, Dardanian and Roman periods.
❐ Visitors can explore the museum’s permanent exhibits, as well as its temporary exhibitions, which showcase art, photography, and other contemporary works.
The Imperial Mosque of Pristina, otherwise known as Xhamia e Madhe, is an impressive Ottoman–era mosque located in the heart of the city. The mosque was built in 1561 by the Ottoman Empire, and is one of the oldest and most iconic buildings in Pristina.
It features an impressive minaret and an ornate interior, complete with intricately carved wooden and stone decorations. Visitors to the mosque can explore the interior and learn about the history and culture of the Ottoman Empire. The Imperial Mosque of Pristina is a great place to explore and learn about the history and culture of the Ottoman Empire or simply to relax in its serene atmosphere.
❐ During the Austrohungarian times, this mosque was turned into the church and was a burial place of the Pjeter Bogdani, Albanian author and member of pro-Austrian movement back in the 17th century. After the Ottomans regained their control his remains were excavated and dumped into the streets of Pristina.
Pristina’s most recognisable monument is its library.Whether you love or hate its appearance, this amazing socialist era brutalist expression with its 99 domes of different sizes and completely covered in a lattice of fence-like metal will surely leave no one indifferent.
The building of the National Library of Kosovo is surely one of the most controversial buildings in the country made by Andrija Mutnjaković, Croatian architect. Although, according to the architect himself, the style was meant to blend the Byzantine and Islamic architectural forms, and regional traditions with a rural architecture, there are many controversials and stories among the locals.
On one hand, it is believed that the domes of the building are associated with the national Albanian hat “plisi” which is the reason why Serbian authorities still have a very strong opinion on one side. On the other side, there is a much wider belief that this project was meant to bring reconciliation between Serbs and Albanians.
❐ The library has a large open–plan hall, which is filled with natural light and surrounded by glass walls. Besides its impressive book collection, it also features a theater, art gallery, and a cafe.
Just next to the National Library, you will find the never completed Christ the Saviour Church whose construction started in 1995 under the auspices of the Milosevic regime and was halted by the Kosovo war.
Take a walk through the main walking street named after G.W. Bush and encounter few too many statues for someone’s taste, along with those dedicated to Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher.
The Bill Clinton Boulevard is a popular tourist attraction in Pristina, Kosovo. The boulevard is a long stretch of road that runs through the center of the city and is lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes. The boulevard is named after former US President Bill Clinton, who played a key role in the end of the Kosovo War.
This is a great place to explore and take in the sights and sounds of the city. Visitors can shop at the various stores, enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants and cafes, and take in the stunning views of the city. There are also several monuments and sculptures that commemorate the people and events of the Kosovo War, including a statue of Bill Clinton and a monument to the victims of the war.
❐ Next to the statue you will find the famous graffiti of the slogan “Jo Negociata, vetevendosje” which translates to “No negotiations, self-determination” which is used by a political group in Kosovo and is not in favour of foreign aid.
Kosovo’s tallest building is Pristina’s cathedral named after St. Teresa of Calcutta, Albanian nun. It was built in 2009 and is the only cathedral named after this saint who spent her life working and helping deep in the slums of India. Moreover, this is the only existing cathedral in Kosovo.
The cathedral features a stunning mix of traditional and modern architecture, with a large central dome and a bell tower. Inside, visitors will find a large, ornate interior filled with stained glass windows, marble floors, and statues of saints. The cathedral is a great place to explore and learn about the history and culture of the Catholic Church in Kosovo.
Enjoy the 360-degree views from 250-foot bell tower looming over the city and learn about Kosovo’s religious groups, minorities and majorities over the thousands of years of history.
❐ Unlike the other cathedrals you can find, this new-renaissance Italianate style building is unique and, sometimes questioned, for containing symbols and decorations such as the Albanian Eagle, Skanderbeg and ex-president Ibrahim Rugova.
Pristina’s most photographed landmark and definitely one of the most recognised representatives of Kosovo independence is the The Newborn Monument.
The typographic sculpture NewBorn was unveiled on a day when Kosovo gained its independence, 17th of February 2008. Ever since then, every year on the independence day, the look of the monument, the colours to be more precisely, are being changed reflecting the current modern days issues and struggles.
While taking photos make sure to check out another monument – Heroinat. Its amazing structure consists 20 000 pins representing an Albanian woman. Each pin depicts one woman raped during the Kosovo war.
❐ The original monument was yellow with blue banners representing the colours of European Union. Ever since then, the colours of the monument are changing every year on the independence day.
The Ethnological Museum of Pristina is located in the heart of the city and is one of the most important cultural and historical institutions in Kosovo. The museum houses a large collection of artifacts and objects related to the history and culture of Kosovo, from prehistoric times to the present day.
Visitors can explore the museum’s permanent exhibits, which showcase items related to the history and culture of Kosovo, including traditional costumes, musical instruments, and religious artifacts. The museum also hosts a variety of special exhibitions, which showcase art, photography, and other contemporary works.
The Ethnological Museum of Pristina is a great place to explore and learn about the history and culture of Kosovo. Whether you’re looking to browse the collections, take part in an event, or just relax with a cup of coffee, the museum is a great place
❐ The Gazimestan Monument is visited by thousands of people each year, both to pay respects and to learn more about the history of the country and region.
The second-most significant Orthodox site in the region, barely after the Patriarchate of Peje, is the UNESCO protected Gracanica Monastery, which is located not far from Pristina.
The monastery had a turbulent history over the years but was spared in the most recent conflict and, nowadays, it is inhabited by about twenty nuns who, in addition to their monastery responsibilities, also work in embroidery, agriculture, and icon painting.
Feel free to go through the monastery’s grounds and discover more about the incredible Byzantine skils it is known for as there is no checkpoint there and you are not needed to make an announcement about your visit.
❐ Gracanica Monastery. Founded by a Milutin, king of the Nemanjic dynasty in 1321, this monastery has been listed as one of the four sites in the country that is listed and protected by UNESCO.
From the Orthodox heritage to the Albanians origins. Many consider the ancient Ulpiana inhabitants as Albanian ancestors. On the right side between Gracanica and the charming village Laplje Selo, nestled on a vast area of green Kosovo field, two and a half meters underground on the surface of 120 football fields stretches the ancient city of Ulpiana.
Ulpiana was an ancient city founded by the Romans in the 2nd century CE, originally as a military camp. It was later developed into a city and was the most important urban center of the Roman province of Dardania. The city was destroyed by the Huns in 441 CE, and it was never rebuilt.
❐ Take a walk at the remarkable remains of ancient Ulpiana whose outlines are slowly coming to light thanks to a team of Kosovo and international archeologists.