Kosovo is still just a recent name introduced into the international vocabulary, although this country’s history stood strong against the hardships of the time. Well, if not for anything, then at least in the world to finally start understanding!
Having declared independence in 2008, Kosovo is the world’s second youngest nation. The country is also very young in the demographic sense, where 28% of the population are younger than 15 while 50% is younger than 28 years old.
However, it does not remove the fact the Kosovo is an old country – as old as you can perceive old to be! Especially, for the local Albanians, this country is all they have known for as long as people have inhabited this good old planet!
Despite, the ruins left behind every strict regime and war, Kosovo still has a lot to show! Its people keep working hard to make the history known through its many historical and cultural sights, recently been unveiled also by the UNESCO World Heritage:
This ancient city dates back to the first century and has thrived during the Roman occupation and the early Byzantine era. It was one of the main spots for political, economic, and cultural activities. The stones engraved in Roman scriptures present at the site today, show its importance as the Roman province of Moesia Superior. It is believed that Ulpiana was the former capital of Dardania – the land of the ancient Illyrians, the ancestors of the Albanian people.
Despite the various damages accumulated over time, it remains a major attraction for those who want to explore the oldness and beauty of Kosovo. What’s more, the site is surrounded by lush green hills!
The old Byzantine Churches and Monasteries
The old Byzantine Churches and Monasteries are spread out throughout various cities in Kosovo, such as in Prizren, Pejë, Graçanicë, Prishtinë, and Gjakovë amongst others.
2. The Graçanica Monastery
The Graçanica Monastery was built in 1321 on the ruins of the 6th century Christian three-naved basilica, with its vibrant-colored frescoes. Graçanica is part of the Community of Serb municipalities in Kosovo, 5 km far from its capital Prishtina. It represents the medieval art of the Byzantine tradition and the luxurious Paleologan Renaissance style. Use this chance and visit another close-by and great city, Janjeva. It is an old city where Croatians and Albanians live in harmony. It has beautiful nature and land views. What’s interesting in visiting this place is the fact that it only has one way in and out of it.
3. The Visoki Deçani monastery
Founded during the 14th century. Its frescoes represent the largest gallery of medieval art, including over 1000 other compositions as well as thousands of portraits.
Visoki Decani monastery founded in the 14th Century – is part of the World Heritage site – named “Medieval Monuments in Kosovo”.
4. The Monastery of the Patriarchate of Peja
The Monastery of the Patriarchate of Peja is another one of Kosovo’s absolute highlights, built in the 13th and 14th It has four connected churches, three main ones with domes known as Holy Apostles, St. Demetrius and Hodegetriam, linked by a monumental narthex, while the smaller church without a dome is on the side of Hodegetria Church. The church of the Holy Apostles was decorated once around 1300, then around 1350 and 1375, and twice in the 17th century.
The Ottoman influence is especially noticed in the town of Prizren, where the bridge is a direct symbol of that period, while the uphill fortress remains one great site to explore and hike. The religious and cultural mix of this city is a great way to show the possible harmony of diversity in a small city. There are great heritage sites as the orthodox church, followed by the Ottoman Hamam (bath) and mosques.
Lady of Ljeviš is one of the most important sights in Prizren. It is a 14th-century Serbian church used as a mosque by the local population up to 1911. To visit it, you must first visit St George’s Church located at the other side of the river and then get the visit approval. It is a three-nave basilica with three altar apses and two vestibules.
6. Novo Brdo or Artanë
The magnetic fortresses of medieval times built in the early 14th century to protect. Iron, silver, gold, and lead mines were abundant throughout the area. This area was especially rich and famous for its silver abundance. You can enjoy a good walk all around the medieval eight towers and its three gates. Moreover, quench your thirst in its one source of drinking water inside the fortress. There have been a number of medieval luxury good findings that to this day explain Novo Brdo’s prosperity and high status of the time!
7. The beautiful, evergreen
The Rugova Canyon or Rugova Gorge is a river canyon near Pejë in Western Kosovo, declared a protected monument of natural heritage because of its mesmerizing landscapes, botanical values, beautiful waterfalls and natural baits.
Mirusha Waterfalls are hidden in this picturesque region of Rugova for a fulfilling getaway.
Brezovica, where you can enjoy long hikes and outdoor winter sports, is the most popular ski resort situated in the Sharr Mountains. Get on top of the 2,500m hill and ski or snowboard through its nine ski runs!
Then, there is also Brod, a village in the south of Kosovo in the region known as Gora, Dragash municipality. Brod is a great place for hikes and bikes in the greenery and mountainous area. It is also interesting the see the life of its inhabitants who work of craftsmanship and continue a rare tribal makeup and dress tradition. The canyon of Brod is a must see!
8. The old town of Gjakova
This may be the most authentic town in Kosovo, yet modern in its new part of town. Gjakova used to be the most developed trade center during the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. You can find there the oldest Ottoman-style bazaar in Kosovo, where also the big beautiful Hadum mosque is situated. And, for a pleasant view of the city – drive up the hill into the greatness of Ç This is the only municipality in Kosovo with a female mayor!
The cultural hubspot of the Balkans, positioned at #20 festivals in the world is a short film and documentary festival, which takes place in the city of Prizren for a whole week during summer. It blends the entire city and beyond, in the organization of it. Famous directors, actors, programmers, musicians, and art lovers from around the world enjoy the many documentaries and films screened at various outdoor cinemas in the old medieval buildings and structures close to the river, as well as the great parties during the Dokunights. It is a themed festival – tackling Kosovo’s migration and corruption problems towards becoming a European country!
Kosovo’s capital is one great trade center and artistic spot, despite its weird architecture mashup. Beautiful nature surrounds it, while you can enjoy a drive at its natural park of Gërmia to enjoy sunset views. Gërmia – the lungs of the city is known for its diverse vegetation and hugeness! In Prishtina, you can find great artistic initiatives, religious and architectural mixture amongst its friendly people!
11. Food culture and cheap thrills
Try out Tavas, traditional cheeses, lamb, and brandy. There are many great traditional restaurants spread-out throughout the Serbian and Albanian regions as well as the mountainous regions, where the food is grown naturally and prepared in the traditional ways, offered for very cheap prices. You can get a good meal for 5€. A glass of rakia/brandy is around 1€ or a local beer for 1.5€. Delve in the positivity and hospitality of Kosovo’s people!
In Kosovo, many aspects of a civilized third-world country are scarce, but with the great number of young population – it is surely thriving fast! Plus, you can get a good chance to see the Balkan countries surrounding it!