Pristina – the youngest capital in Europe
We recommend starting your tour of the capital with the building of the National Library, which is unique in its architecture – as it is considered one of the ugliest buildings in the world. It was built forty years ago according to the brutalist trend, characteristic of the former Yugoslavia, but here lies all its charm. It has as many as 99 glass domes that refer to the traditional Albanian headdress. The strangest thing, however, is that the entire surface of the building is covered with a metal mesh. I have to admit it’s really impressive. The neighborhood of the library is quiet and green, which is why students like it.
In Pristina there are dozens of sacred buildings worth seeing, both for the followers of Islam and for the Orthodox Church. The oldest mosque in Kosovo is located here – the Imperial Mosque from the early 14th and 15th centuries. Slightly younger, and just as impressive, is the Grand Mosque, located near the center of the capital. It’s also worth checking out the unfinished church dedicated to Christ the Redeemer.
But Pristina is not only historical monuments, but also a young, lively city with many atmospheric antique shops, hipster cafes and restaurants. In this regard, the capital of Kosovo is no different from similar places in all of Europe. During the walks you will also see many monuments with Albanian flags. Among them is also the most famous – “Newborn” – covered in capital letters with the flags of 99 countries. At the end we left a monument, which, if you suddenly bump into each other during a walk, might surprise you. This one statue… of former US president Bill Clinton. How did he get there? He is a thank you from Kosovars who consider him behind the father of independence.
If you are bored of walking on a hot day, you can give yourself a moment of rest by the water. Just twenty kilometers from the city is Lake Batllave, the only seaside resort of this type in the country.
Prizren – the most charming city in Kosovo
From the capital, it takes just over an hour by public transport to reach the city of Prizren, which was under the rule of Bulgaria, the Eastern Roman Empire, Serbia, and the Ottoman Empire. Each of them has marked its presence in this place, allowing it to be proud of its beautiful, diverse architecture.
A few minutes’ walk from the station, you can see the 12th-century Orthodox Church of the Mother of God in Ljeviška. Thanks to the efforts of the Serbs, the building was recognized by UNESCO in 2006 as a place of exceptional importance for world culture. Together with other monasteries in the region, they make up the listing “Medieval Monuments of Kosovo” and as a whole are included in the list of World Heritage Monuments in Danger. Two years earlier there had been a fire during the riots. The facility itself has been renovated, but the interior is still not available to visitors.
The fortress of Kaljaja towers over Prizren, from where you have a fantastic view of the entire city and the surrounding mountains. It is worth spending an hour and climbing it to see it with your own eyes.
Peja – the gateway to the Cursed Mountains
Another must-see is Peje – for two reasons. First, the city itself is very interesting. It is distinguished by Islamic and Ottoman-Balkan architecture, and at the same time it is the center of Serbian Orthodoxy. The Patriarchate of the Serbian Orthodox Church has its seat here. The complex consists of four temples and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Unfortunately, during the armed conflict in 1999, many buildings were destroyed and are still awaiting restoration.
The second reason why you should visit Peje is its ideal location. The town is a great jumping-off point for the nearby Cursed Mountains, considered by many to be the most beautiful mountains in the entire Balkan Peninsula. They are comparable in height to our Tatras. It should be noted, however, that they are stricter, with jagged ridges and more rock-covered. Still, there are many daredevils who want to face them. Many peaks are available for climbing enthusiasts.
One of them is the highest peak of Kosovo – Deravica, 2,656 meters above sea level. The trail starts in the town of Decani, where you can walk from Peja in a few minutes. A few hours of hard climbing will reward you with a beautiful panorama of the peaks of Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro. For those seeking stronger sensations, a via ferrata with chains, supports and buckles stretches on a literally vertical rock face near Decani. Cursed mountains, no doubt they can enjoy!
Mitrovica – a divided city
An interesting town is Mitrovica – divided into two parts – Serbian and Albanian, which clearly contrast with each other. On the Serbian side there are churches, you pay in Serbian currency – dinars, signs on the street are written in Cyrillic. On the Albanian side are mosques, you pay in euros and use the Latin alphabet. Here is the symbolic bridge over the river Ibar. Both sides share a quiet life – residents drink coffee or tea in countless cafes, old handicraft shops and houses without numbers.
It is good to know that the people of Kosovo are very helpful. Due to the small number of tourists, they really do their best to make the visitors happy. How to get there?
LOT Polish Airlines, which offers a direct connection from Warsaw, will take you on a unique journey to Pristina. The flight time is approximately two and a half hours.
If Kosovo alone isn’t enough for you, nothing is lost. In just forty minutes from Pristina you can reach picturesque Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia. Albanian Kukes and Shkodër are also quite close.
Find your LOT on LOT.com.