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Kosovo. When thinking of Europe’s youngest country, many first think of war, ethnic cleansing and expulsions. And indeed, the legacy of the Kosovo war still weighs heavily, and traces of the conflict are still visible everywhere in the country.
Many already call Kosovo a “failed state,” and by no means all European states recognize its independence from Serbia. Not the best starting conditions, therefore, for one of the poorest countries in Europe, which is also suffering greatly from the fact that young and well-educated people in particular are turning their backs on it.
This is a shame, because Kosovo is one of the most exciting destinations in the region due to its rich history and culture. Ottomans, Albanians and Serbs have left their mark here at the transition point between Orient and Occident. The Serbian monastery complexes and churches from the 13th and 14th centuries have even been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. When the country, where the Battle of the Field of Blackbirds (Kosovo Polje), so important for Serbia, took place, came under Ottoman control, it continued to flourish. Numerous mosques, hamams and turbs are still visible expressions of those times.
Among the Kosovar cities, one must single out Pristina and Prizren in particular. The capital Pristina in the north is perhaps not Europe’s most beautiful capital, but offers an exciting mix of socialist architecture, Orthodox churches and wonderful mosques and is thus representative of the cultural heritage of the entire country. The contrast to this is Prizren, which seems a little like fallen out of time and resembles an Ottoman fairy tale.
But the country’s nature also attracts many visitors. Whether you want to hike in the Šar Planina on the border with northern Macedonia, walk along the rivers in the south of the country or through the Rugova Gorge, nature lovers are guaranteed to get their money’s worth. The Mirusha waterfalls, the Gadime stalactites and the bear reserve near Pristina also fall into this category.
So there are plenty of reasons to pay a visit to this small country with its eventful past. On the following pages you will learn more about the most beautiful regions of Kosovo and get many practical tips for your trip!
Kosovo Polje, the eponymous region of the northeast, is dominated by its capital Pristina. The region, which was already settled in ancient times, was badly affected during the Kosovo War. Nevertheless, especially in Pristina there are still many buildings from the Ottoman period to admire, which have been joined by many buildings of Yugoslavian modernism. One of the absolute highlights is the National Library of Kosovo from the 1980s, which is unique in its form worldwide. But the surrounding area also has a lot to offer, for example a bear reserve.
Prizren, the second largest city in the country, looks like something out of a fairy tale from 1001 nights. Here you can feel the magic of the Ottoman past like in no other place in the country. The city is the most important tourist center and an ideal starting point for exploring the south of the country. In Gjakova, too, time seems to have stopped and everything still looks as it did in the 15th century. But also the nature in the south of the country with its gentle mountains and the many rivers knows how to inspire its visitors.
To prepare your trip even better, we have created a packing list for you. It contains recommendations for things that will make your trip more comfortable and secure.
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