With Kosova’s independence, a new air of optimism is wafting through the newly born country.
Kosova is a safe place to visit with several attractive towns featuring great Ottoman-era mosques and hamam complexes, stunning medieval Christian Orthodox churches and monasteries, beautiful countryside, and friendly locals.
Kosova is located in southeastern Europe in the central Balkan Peninsula. Entirely surrounded by high mountainsits terrain is varied, ranging from high plains some 500metres above sea level to hills and mountains. The country is 10,908 km2, while Prishtina covers 572 km2 and can be found between 535 and 580 metres above sea level. Kosova is bordered by four countries, namely Montenegro (border length 78.6km) to the northwest,Serbia (border 351.6km) to the north and northeast, Macedonia (border 158.7km) to the south and Albania (border 111.8km) to the west and southwest. The longest river in Kosova is the Drini i Bardhë (122km) that flows through Albania and out into the Adriatic. The highest mountain is Gjeravica (2,656m), located in the Peja region in the west of the country.
Kosova has a democratically elected government with 120 members of parliament (on a four-year term) and with 20 seats reserved for minorities (10 for Serbs, 10 for others).
Most Kosovan Albanians are officially Muslims, although an unwitting traveller would hardly notice in urban areas. Kosova, like Albania, is quite secular and can not be compared with more religious places like Turkey or countries in the Middle East. Although pork is not readily available, drinking and smoking are practiced with enthusiasm, headscarves are generally not worn by women, and mosque attendance is insignificant compared to the aforementioned countries. Showing deep affection in public is not done.
A film festival that commemorates the 9/11 attacks takes place in September at Prishtina National Theatre. It features short films (5-30 minutes) by local directors, all provided with English subtitles.
Kosovans love film festivals, as proven by the first edition of the Prishtina International Film Festival, held at the Kino ABC cinema from 22 to 30 September 2009. The great actress Vanessa Redgrave (truly unforgettable as Jane in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film Blowup) presided over the jury, which hands out awards in six categories. The prize is a ‘Golden Goddess’ award; a stylish golden version of Prishtina’s 6000-year old Hyjnesha në Fron statue
In November Prishtina hosts the annual Prishtina Jazz Festival. Held in the ODA theatre, just behind the Pallati i Rinise complex, there is a concert every evening at 20:00, with bands from across the region and beyond. Tickets are €5 per concert or €25 for the whole festival, and are for saleat the theatre.
The Skena Up, is a visual arts festival with a competitive element. It’s dedicated to film and theatre students and aims to bring new works to a wide audience and to bring together artists and audiences from varying cultural backgrounds. As it involves students, there will be plenty of beer and parties too. Shows are at the National Theatre and Kino ABC cinema.
Prishtina’s accommodation market is small but growing; it offers a limited selection of locally-run hotels with surprisingly small price differences between them. Despite what they may claim, few places rise above three-star standard. Prishtina has a reputation for having average, expensive hotels, and does suffer somewhat from an all-expenses paid- all-choices-made foreigner market, but its reputations undeserved, but the best hotels are all central and affordable.
First impressions when scouring Prishtina for something to nibble can make you wish you’d brought sandwiches.However, like so many other things in the city, don’t let appearances fool you. A largish Balkan city populated by Albanians and rich Westerners ensures that eatingout in Prishtina is deliciously varied, and more than often excellent. Eating out is cheap too in Prishtina, with main courses often under €10. You’ll soon be endlessly dazzled by superb salads, lashings of lamb, fabulous white cheese, the very best of Turkish food, passable pizza and much more besides. Ignore the battalions of beleaguered expats who tell you what a dreadful experience Prishtina is, and simply tuck in.
There are enough bars and clubs in Prishtina to keep all but the most demanding snobs satisfied. The influx of foreigners has brought with it a few excellent choices, but even the places frequented by the locals are better than many you’ll find in some of the bigger Balkan cities. This is basically down to Albanian hospitality, which is, in short, second to none. The great thing about Prishtina is that it’s so small you can move from bar to bar until you find something you like. As well as crawling the nightlife in the city centre around Rruga Fehmi Agani and Rruga Garibaldi, the other good place to try is the Santea neighbourhood, at the eastern end of Bul. Bill Clinton. Note that several places listed under Cafés such as the Café e Vogel are also good night spots.