Home to the capital of a nation that is not fully recognized by other states worldwide, a visit to Pristina will feel very much like you are in a place that is still very much in transition. In spite of this, the spirit of the local population and its constantly evolving identity will win you over, making this city a great place to start your adventure in Kosovo.
Despite only being known in the media when it broke away from Serbia in the late 1990’s Kosovo has a long human history, the artifacts of which can be discovered and examined at the Ethnological Museum of Pristina.
In this institution, pieces that date back as far as thousands of years in the past are on display, which include ancient clothing, pottery, wooden tools, weapons, jewelery and musical instruments. This will give visitors a sense of how long human life has thrived in this region of the world, as this part of Europe is one of the oldest places on the continent with regards to organized settlements.
The Mother Teresa Cathedral should be next on your sightseeing list in Pristina, as its grandeur will capture your attention as soon as you arrive in the city. It is still under construction in parts, but many of the elements meant to honor the late nun are readily apparent to visitors, such as its twin spires and the soaring arches on the interior of the building.
One of the most intriguing cultural attractions in Pristina is none other than the Newborn Monument, which is an art project that changes form on an annual basis. Its base form is a typographical representation of the word “newborn”, and it is on this canvas that a new design is made each and every year.
With the original theme being based around the countries that had recognized Kosovo as a nation as of 2008, the monument has gone on to have a number of other interesting themes (unveiled on February 17th of each year), including each letter being skinned in a variety of army camouflage colours, and the sculpture being given over to local graffiti artists.
The one thing that most people know about Kosovo relates to its most tragic days, when it was struggling to fight off Serb nationalists that were attempting to deny Kosovars their independence, while slaughtering all that opposed them.
NATO intervened in this conflict, which threatened to spread across the region, with President Bill Clinton of the USA spearheading this initiative. The offensive was a success, earning a ceasefire that ensured Kosovo’s survival as a nation.
As a token of gratitude towards the 42nd president of the United States, the Bill Clinton Statue and Mural was unveiled in 2008 at the start of a boulevard that was also named after America’s former head of state.
A smallish but detailed statue of Slick Willy sits beneath a giant mural painted on the side of an apartment block, giving you an idea of the depth of gratitude that many Kosovars feel towards NATO and the former American president.
While Pristina does have its charms, its grittiness can wear on some after a while. If you feel this happening to you, a trip to the lush greenery of Germia Park will fix this situation. Covering 62 square kilometres on a small massif in the city’s northeast corner, you can either enjoy locals enjoying an afternoon in its natural surroundings, or you can press on down its lengthy trails to lose the masses altogether for some badly needed alone time amidst some of the finest urban forest in the Balkans.
Need to pick up some snacks before taking the bus to other destinations throughout Kosovo? The Pristina Bazaar is the perfect place to do this, as this rejuvenated market offers food options amidst the craft and trinket stalls. While it is a bit primitive compared to more developed market facilities elsewhere in Europe, its simple charm will make the time you spend here well worth the expense.