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KOSOVO


Location - South east Europe; Capital - Pristina; Population - 1.9 million; Currency - Euro

I returned to Skopje from Ohrid and hoped to take a scenic train ride back to Pristina. However it looks like the route has officially been culled, so it was a straightforward 2hr minibus trip to the capital of Kosovo - October 2017.

Kosovo remains a disputed territory. Part of Serbia until civil war and claims of ethnic cleansing provoked a NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, it proclaimed independence for a second time in 2008. Today Serbia still sees Kosovo as part of Serbia and many countries, including Russia, are yet to recognise it as an independent state.

 

euro1Although Kosovo is not in the EU, it uses the Euro. In ethnically Serbian areas the Serbian Dinar is common, particularly in the north.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo4445I headed straight to the attractive city of Prizren for a day-trip, where a steep walk to the ruins of the 11th century fortress gives great views

 

kosovo35On the right is the minaret of the Sinan Pasha Mosque - Prizren

 

kosovo48I think the backdrop to Prizren are the Shar Mountains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo40Looking down on the ruins of the Serbian Orthodox Holy Saviour Church - Prizren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo32The 14th century church was destroyed by Kosovans in 1990 and used to be heavily guarded until recently - Prizren

 

kosovo50The lonely figure of the church guard - Prizren

 

kosovo30 A condemned building on the route to the castle - Prizren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo5The Prizren Bistrica River 'flows' through the centre of the city, which is lined with cafes on the right hand side. High above are the fortress walls of the 11th century castle - Prizren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo17The Sinan Pasha Mosque on the right of the river, and just behind on the hill in the distance is the Serbian Orthodox Holy Saviour Church - Prizren

 

kosovo16A 15th century Ottoman bridge spans the river - Prizren

 

kosovo19The cafes really busy up straight after Friday afternoon prayers, marking the beginning of the weekend - Prizren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo6There's many statues of military figures around Kosovo. This is Khevat Berisha (1961-1998) - Prizren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo7The entrance sign to another Serbian orthodox church in the centre of Prizren warns against vandalism and looting. The reference to KFOR is the NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo

 

kosovo8This is the church - fortunately today the presence of KFOR troops is absent aside from one security guard. But things can change quickly.. - Prizren

 

kosovo24A KFOR vehicle parked above a wall of street art - Prizren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo10The 17th century Sinan Pasha Mosque is right in the centre of Prizren, set among cafes and souvenir shops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo27An important building in Prizren is the League of Prizren complex, aimed at establishing Albanian autonomy back in the 19th century. Kosovo and Albania are linked by language (though different dialects), ethnicity and religion, and you'll see the Albanian flag flown in Kosovo more than the Kosovan flag

 

kosovo29Ismet Jashari (1967-1998) was a prominent member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA, or UÇK in Albanian) which fought for Kosovan independence - Prizren

 

kosovo3I followed the drum beats to see what was going on and stumbled across a wedding celebration. At least I'm guessing it was a wedding.. - Prizren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo2Does Rita know about this?! British-based singer Rita Ora was born in Pristina as Rita Sahatçiu - Prizren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo53Yes this is a statue of former US president Bill Clinton, honouring the role America played in Kosovo's gaining of independence. A few metres away is a clothes shop called Hillary (not a coincidence! Apparently she's been there) - Pristina

 

kosovo63Where Is The Hotspot? Republic of Kosovo. At least that's what Google Translate tells me! Pristina

 

kosovo60The Newborn monument was unveiled on 17 February 2008, the day Kosovo declared independence - Pristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo64 I read that the Independence House of Kosovo is housed in Ibrahim Rugova's house, but it looks pretty small. Maybe he was a modest man - Pristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo66A mural of Ibrahim Rugova, the first President of independent Kosovo, who served as leader on two occasions. He died in 2006 - Pristina

 

kosovo65Zahir Pajaziti (1962-1997) was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army - Pristina

 

kosovo68On the lively pedestrianised Bulevardi Nena Tereze there's a wall of photos of people. The graffiti refers to something about collaborators but no idea if there's any link - Pristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo69Skanderbeg is a national hero, a 15th century Albanian military commander - Pristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo74On a wall inside Kosovo Museum is an impressive mural of Mother Theresa, made from thousands of staples. She was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in Macedonia but was of Albanian-Indian descent - Pristina

 

kosovo78It was a very wet, cold day and my camera was full of water, so this is my best photo of Sultan Mehmet Fatih Mosque in the old quarter - Pristina

 

kosovo81These painted stone flags form part of a WWII monument called the Monument to Brotherhood & Unity - Pristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo83The Roman Catholic Mother Teresa Cathedral was only completed a few years ago - Pristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo87A water fountain in Ibrahim Rugova Square marks the start/end of Bulevardi Nena Tereze, with the former Hotel Union behind. Just down a set of steps to the left is an excellent bar-restaurant called Soma Book Station. All in all Pristina feels like the hub of Kosovo with plenty of bars, cafes, shops, museums and restaurants but it's not an attractive cityl. For that, choose Prizren and Peja - Pristina

 

kosovo86Brilliant! Inspecting the restaurant extractor chute on the roof - Pristina

 

kosovo93Love the train station murals! Haven't seen this anywhere else - Pristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo94Pity the train to Peja was cancelled! Off to the the bus station instead.. - Pristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo98Take a short ride on a Gjilan-bound bus to Gracanica, one of the Serbian enclaves in Kosovo south of Pristina. It's home to Gracanica Monastery, its perimeter wall shown here bound with barbed wire - Pristina

 

kosovo101No guns - and definitely no beachwear! Every day had been blue sky and temperatures in the 20s, but today was snow, rain and just a few degrees above freezing - Pristina

 

kosovo103The Serbian Orthodox monastery dates back to the 14th century. When I visited a lot of fresco restoration work was going on - Pristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo107 This piece of street art in Gracanica looks like some sort of political statement - Pristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was lucky enough to bump into Vlora, a Mitrovica local, on my way to visit the divided city. She was an unexpected guide which included crossing the divide to the Serbian area where her family used to live

 

kosovo109My first sight of Mitrovica in the north of Kosovo was the Sand's Mosque, as far as I know the main mosque in town

 

kosovo111A mural promoting the empowerment of women, linked to International Women's Day - Mitrovica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo113Isa Boletini was a nationalist figure born in 1864 in present day Kosovo - Mitrovica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo110Again there's several miltary statues in Mitrovica, though it takes on extra significance in a city divided along ethnic lines. South Mitrovica is largely Kosovan while the north is predominantly Serbian. Albanian flags fly alongside the statues in south Mitrovica

 

kosovo114Albanian flags fly alongside the statues in south Mitrovica - Mitrovica

 

kosovo117A police van stands alongside Mitrovica Bridge, the bridge across the Ibar River and symbol of the divide between Kosovo and Serbia - Mitrovica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo120It's used as a miltary checkpoint, and though it has lanes it's currently closed to vehicles. The metal fencing is the controversial remnant of a 2m high concrete wall Serbia began to build in 2016 - North Mitrovica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo127KFOR soldiers walk up the main street in North Mitrovica

 

kosovo130Serbian flags line the road, signs are in Cyrillic, shops sell Serbian newspapers and most local produce is from Serbia - Mitrovica

 

serbianote1Though still in Kosovo, North Mitrovica uses the Serbian Dinar, but it's possible to use Euros in some places including the souvenir shop I surprisingly came across near the bridge

 

kosovo131Prince Lazar was a 14th century Serbian leader and revered as a saint by the Orthodox Church - North Mitrovica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo132The Serbian flag on a mural in North Mitrovica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo134The city is known as Kosovo Mitrovice in Serbia (the two words at the bottom) - I'm trying to get a translation of the rest, so if you know please pass on! North Mitrovica

 

kosovo136St Demetrius Church is a new Serbian Orthodox church built above North Mitrovica

 

kosovo137The view of North Mitrovica from St Demetrius Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo135Further up the hill above the church is the Miners Monument - North Mitrovica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo128Returning down the main street to Mitrovica Bridge and back to Pristina - North Mitrovica

 

kosovo146The main square in Peja, the third city of Kosovo, set beneath the Rugova Mountains of western Kosovo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo152The Rugova Mountains form a beautiful backdrop to the city - Peja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo156The late 19th century Goska Family stonehouse. There's quite a few of these old stonehouses in Peja, known as kullas

 

kosovo158Certainly not the street art I was expecting - Leatherface 'greets' visitors to a residential flat in Peja

 

kosovo161Around the corner is a barbed comment about the granting of EU visas, all done Banksy-style - Peja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo185One of several mosques in Peja, this one being on the pleasant 15min walk to the Patriarchate of Peć

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo165The walk to the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate of Peć takes you closer to the base of the Rugova Mountains where the valley narrows - Peja

 

kosovo166It's a very scenic and tranquil area around the Patriarchate of Peć (Peć being the Serbian name for Peja), at least until the tour buses arrive! - Peja

 

kosovo179The oldest part of the church and monastery complex dates to the 13th century - Peja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo183The Patriarchate consists of three chapels, all adorned with centuries-old frecoes - Peja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kosovo171KFOR soldiers used to guard the church complex, but now there's just a police guard-post where you register your passport. There's a souvenir shop where bottles of potent slivovitz are produced using fruit from the monastery's orchards - Peja

 

kosovo186Mountainous scenery on the bus ride from Peja to Montenegro - Peja

 

 

Website and content Copyright © 2008-2017 Mark Wilkinson. All rights reserved.

 

LINKS

www.beinkosovo.com - private agency

www.kosovo-info.com - guide to Kosovo

www.kosovoguide.com

www.travellerspoint.com

 

I am not responsible for the content of external websites.

 

 
 
 
   
 
   
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