Robin's Website


This webpage primarily concerns the capital city of Kosovo, Pristina, although it also includes a little bit about a trip that involved travelling through some of it's more rural areas. Kosovo is a disputed territory although is a partially recognised state in South-eastern Europe. It declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 as the Republic of Kosovo.

For the visit featured on this webpage (in 2005), entry was overland from The Republic of Macedonia. This was relatively straightforward and unless circumstances dictate otherwise, it will probably be the only place I ever encounter where the United Nations stamp your passport. My phone beeped on entry with the standard welcome text one gets when entering another country. It read "Welcome to Monaco".

Pristina [Photos 1-26, below] forms the administrative centre and is the largest city of Kosovo. Several ethnic groups make up the city, although the population mostly comprises Albanians. As seen in the photos below, there is a statue of Mother Theresa, probably the most famous Albanian known worldwide today. The city's history goes back a long way and through many periods including the Romans and the Ottomans.  The city suffered bombing in the Second World War. More recently, it suffered damage during the Kosovo War in 1999; NATO's aerial campaign heavily damaged a number militarily strategic sites. Serbian and Yugoslav forces shelled several districts whilst many Albanians were forced into exile from the region. A lot of damage to the city's cultural monuments happened in peacetime due to socialist planning and modern-day neglect. Today, Pristina benefits from a large concentration of international staff and organisations bringing a lot of money into the city as it undergoes reconstruction. It is seat of UNMIK, the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo. The role of UNMIK is to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo and advance regional stability in the western Balkans. The centre of Pristina was therefore somewhat busy with UN staff, vehicles, compounds and facilities. With the international presence creating a mini-economic boom in recent years has sprung up a large number of new cafes, restaurants and private businesses. Probably the most striking and poignant sight I came across in the city was a fence, containing a large array of photos stuck on the side with people who are still missing. The city was fascinating to wander around, particularly walking up to incomplete Cathedral of Blessed Mother Teresa which will be one of Pristina's tallest buildings when finished. Another building, The Christ the Saviour Cathedral is an unfinished Serbian Orthodox Christian church whose construction began in 1995. These can all be seen in the photos below - sometimes it was therefore difficult to work out what buildings had been finished then heavily damaged and being restored and what buildings simply weren't finished to start off with. A building of architectural note seen on this visit was the National Library of Kosovo. I was intrigued recently to question whether its architectural style influenced the design of The Library of Birmingham in England, completed recently in 2013. So, anyone interested in architecture who can find out, please let me know!

Photos 27-32 show some of the rural areas of Kosovo west of Pristina. It is worth noting here that at the time of the visit, it was not permitted to visit some of the parts which were being managed by KFOR, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force responsible for establishing a secure environment in Kosovo. In particular, we hoped to find somewhere to stay in the municipality of Peć (approx 60,000 population) in western Kosovo, although KFOR would not let us enter the city.

Note: Apologies for the distorted images; I was living outside my native England at the time and bought a cheap camera for the trip!

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