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Pristina is a special place

National Library of Kosovo, Pristina, Kosovo
Aerial view of the National Library of Kosovo
I didn’t know much about Pristina (also Prishtina or Priština) before my visit last April. The only thing on my must see list was the National Library with its intriguing domes. My guide, Eddy, had a brilliant plan to ask his friend, Fatvera, a student at the university, to show us the library. We met Fatvera, a bright and articulate young lady, at the monument to Bill Clinton where we read the stone inscriptions of the statue and billboard of the former U.S. president and talked a little bit about his legacy in Kosovo. From there Fatvera suggested we go to the Cathedral to get a bird’s eye view of Pristina and that was the best idea ever! 

Andria Mutnjakovič, a Croatian architect, designed the National Library which was inaugurated in 1982. His design has received mixed reviews. The domes have been compared to the Albanian national hat, “plisi”, which didn’t sit well with the Serbian community. The building is covered in a metal net like latticework, a reminder of filigree jewelry that Kosovo is famous for. Mutnjakovič explained that the building is a blend of Byzantine and Ottoman architectural styles

Domes of the National Library
In 1986, the library was used to house Bosnian and Croatian refugees during the Balkan War. It later became the command center and living quarters of the Serbian Army. Much of its precious collection of reading materials were lost at this time. Today, the library has over two million items which is in process for conversion to digital format.

There are 99 domes of varying sizes made from translucent acrylic material shaped  in a triangular pattern and linked by an aluminum frame. The dome provides natural lighting to the spaces below. 

The Main Hall of the library has mosaic marble floors and natural lighting emanates from above. This space is also used for events and conferences.

Cathedral of St. Mother Teresa
One of the highlights of my visit to Pristina was to go up to the top of the bell tower of the Cathedral. (There’s a small €1.50 fee.) The 360° view from the tower is the perfect introduction to this rapidly developing capital of Kosovo. You can see the city spread out toward the mountains in the distance.

Aerial view of Bulevardi Bill Clinton from the Cathedral tower

Aerial view of the University of Pristina

Aerial view of the pointed dark grey roof of the Palace of Youth and Sports

City of Pristina

St. Mother Teresa Cathedral, Pristina, Kosovo
Interior of the Cathedral of St. Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa (St. Teresa of Calcutta) was an Albanian born Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries for Charity which helped the poor, the orphans, the sick and the dying, particularly in India. She devoted her life to helping people in need. Mother Teresa is revered throughout Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia and there are monuments and churches dedicated to her in the region. She was canonized by the Catholic Church in 2016. This Cathedral is dedicated to her.

Works of love of Mother Teresa

The Life and Death of Mother Teresa

Christ the Savior Serbian Orthodox Church
Construction of the Church began in 1992 but the Kosovo Conflict between 1998-1999 interrupted the work. The Church was never completed and its fate is uncertain. The property on which it stands is part of the University of Pristina which claims property rights over it. Although the Kosovo Court of Appeals has ruled that church grounds belong to the Serbian Orthodox Church, the dispute continues and the Church has remained as it is.

Skanderbeg Square
This is a popular square and the outdoor cafés are buzzing with families and students from the university nearby. I really enjoyed sitting under the shade in one of these cafés while people watching and marveling at the lively scene.

Skanderbeg Monument
Gjergj Kastrioti or Skanderbeg was an Albanian military commander who led a rebellion against the Ottoman forces. Ninety two percent of Kosovans are of Albanian descent and have a strong affinity with Albanian culture.

Heroine Monument, Pristina, Kosovo
Monument to the Heroines of the Kosovo Conflict
Speaking of heroes, this three-dimensional monument is a painful reminder of the atrocities of war. It recognizes the sacrifices and contributions of Albanian women in the service of their country and the rape of 20,000 of them by Serbian forces. Please read the inscription below to learn more about this monument.

Inscription for the Heroines monument

Bill Clinton Monument, Pristina, Kosovo
Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States
Bill Clinton never expected to be honored with a monument as grand as this. But the people of Kosovo were very grateful (and still are today) for the support that Clinton together with NATO forces, extended to them which ended the conflict between Serbia and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo between 1998-99 and gave the Kosovans their very own state. I was also accorded this warm welcome as an American traveling in Kosovo recently and it was quite touching. When Americans are skewered and blamed for all the problems in the world, Kosovo is a refreshing change and it will always remain a special place for me. Read the account of the unveiling of Bill Clinton’s statue in 2009 here: https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna33573112
Address: Corner of Bill Clinton Boulevard and Idriz Gjilani

Message of President Bill Clinton

Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State, 1997-2001
Albright, who was the Secretary of State of Bill Clinton, worked as much to end the Kosovo Conflict and the people of Kosovo built this monument to honor her legacy in their war for independence.

How to get there:
There are buses from Tirana to Kosovo that take 3.5 hours to 4 hours. Check rome2rio.com for details. You can also take a day tour with GetyourGuide.com. 
I traveled comfortably to Kosovo with Eddy Fej Zulla from Albania on tour with Eddy. He was well recommended by a friend. Whether you’re traveling solo or with family/friends, check with Eddy about your sightseeing plans. You may reach him through WhatsApp 355 69 919 9085. Or contact him by email at edisonfejzulla1@gmail.com.

Travel essentials for Kosovo:
Currency: euro
Languages: Albanian, Serbian. English is widely spoken in Kosovo. According to Fatvera, 90% of the youth read English books even when there is a translation in Albanian.
Electrical outlet: Type F power plugs, Voltage 230V and frequency 50Hz.

Special Acknowledgment: Many thanks, Fatvera, for sharing your time with us and introducing us to your vibrant city. I am very lucky to have met you and learned about Pristina through your eyes. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Stay connected

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie 

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