Kosovo

You will find Kosovo in the heart of the Balkans, in South-Eastern Europe – the youngest country in Europe! Kosovo borders with Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro, so it is a landlocked country. The country is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges. Two large plains spread over west and east from the central region of Kosovo.

 

Prishtina is the capital of Kosovo, also the largest city and administrative center. It is only a few hours drive from the major cities in neighboring countries. The Adriatic Sea Port of Durrës in Albania is 265 km away, and Thesalonniki Sea Port 330km.

 

The two official languages are Albanian and Serbian, and English is spoken in all major urban centers, due to a large presence of the international community post-war.

 

Kosovo has a population of some 1.7 million residents, with almost half of it aged between 15 – 29. Such vibrancy is reflected in every segment of life, including nightlife.

 

With its central position in the Balkans, Kosovo connects Central and South Europe, the Adriatic Sea, and the Black Sea. The country has a rich archaeological, historical, religious, and cultural heritage from the ancient times. The architecture, lifestyle, cuisine, and traditions reflect the mosaic of influences of various empires that have ruled the area.

 

A 6,000-year-old small terra-cotta figure known as the Goddess on the Throne that was discovered near Pristina in the mid-20th century is now the symbol of  the country.

 

Kosovo is the venue of many cultural events that bring together thousands of foreign visitors and local art lovers. Some notable annual events are: DOKUFEST, Sunny Hill Festival, Prifest, Anibar. Besides, the capital of the country, Prishtina, has a vibrant art and culture scene. Places worth visiting are Kino Armata, National Gallery of Arts, National Theater or Teatri Oda.

 

Kosovo’s society is largely secular, people dress in Western clothing. The majority of population identify as Muslim, there is a small percentage of Catholics and Eastern Orthodox too.

 

 

The arts

Heroic epics and ballads, as well as oral prose, traditionally played an important part in relaying the history and myths associated with the ethnic groups of Kosovo. Recitation often was accompanied by the sounds of traditional instruments—such as the single-stringed gusla (Albanian: lahuta; Serbian: gusle) or, among Albanians, the larger two-stringed çifteli. These stories and songs remain important underpinnings of ethnic identity for both Albanians and Serbs. Traditional dances, often circle dances, are still performed as well, often by single-sex groups.
One of the earliest examples of art identified within Kosovo is a 6,000-year-old small terra-cotta figure known as the Goddess on the Throne. Discovered near Pristina in the mid-20th century, it serves as a symbol of Kosovo. Kosovo is rich in folk art dating from the more recent past as well. Snake symbols are a common feature of Albanian architecture and decoration, and a pagan belief that snakes protect households survives to the present day. One of the best-known Kosovar artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries is Sokol Beqiri, whose works include provocative photography, video, and performance pieces. In the late 19th century, especially after the founding of the Albanian League (the first Albanian nationalist organization; also called the League of Prizren) in 1878, a number of Albanian literary figures advocated for independence from the Ottoman Empire. However, there was relatively little written literature in the Albanian language until the 20th century. Albanian literature in Kosovo proceeded to develop differently than it did in Albania, where the communist government imposed more severe ideological constraints.

Daily life and social customs

In Kosovo’s largely secular society, most people dress in Western clothing. Although Muslim women and girls generally do not wear headscarves, in 2009 the ministry of education banned them from schools, arousing controversy.
Many older Albanian men still wear a traditional brimless white cap, or plis. For weddings, full traditional dress often is worn, particularly by women; these garments may be embroidered with silver.
Among the most popular traditional Albanian dishes are fli, a dish of pancake like pastry layered with cream and yogurt, and pite, a phyllo pastry with cheese, meat, or vegetable filling. A distinctive dish is llokuma (sometimes translated as “wedding doughnuts”), the deep-fried dough puffs eaten with yogurt and garlic or with honey. Baklava is the most common sweet to serve for special occasions.
Many of Kosovo’s seasonal rites originated in pagan times, and some later were integrated with the Christian and Islamic faiths. For instance, both Orthodox Christians and Muslims burn a Yule log about the time of the winter solstice. For Orthodox Christians, it is a Christmas Eve tradition (celebrated on January 6, according to the Orthodox liturgical calendar). For Muslims, the log is known as the buzm. In the Orthodox community, Christmas is surpassed in significance by Easter. Among Muslims, Ramadan is the most important celebration. A popular springtime holiday, St. George’s Day (Albanian: Shëngjergji), is celebrated by members of all faiths. In fall, Kosovar Albanians observe Thanksgiving Day (Darka e Lamës).

HOW TO TRAVEL TO KOSOVO

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo provides a list of countries that can enter Kosovo without a visa:  https://www.mfa-ks.net/sherbimet_konsullore/504/shtetet-t-cilat-nuk-kane-nevoj-pr-viz/504 Before making your trip plan to come to Kosovo you should consult the Kosovo Embassy in your country or one closest to your country.

 

 

Arrive by Air

Prishtina International Airport is located less than 15 km from the capital city, Pristina. The airport connects Kosovo directly to many countries: Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, Austria, Belgium, Slovenia, etc. The airport has all facilities available, including car rental, restaurants, ATM, and shops.

 

Arrive by Road

The border points of Kosovo with the neighboring countries are: Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro. Bus lines are available from all neighboring countries. Bus lines are also available to serve passengers across Europe: Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey and more.

 

Arrive by Train

There is only one line connecting Pristina with Skopje. Tickets can be purchased either at the station or when you board the train.

 

What to Do in Kosovo

Kosovo has a lot to offer to every visitor! Whether it is history, culture, or old architecture, you can visit fortresses, archaeological park, traditional stone-houses, and cities displaying Ottoman or Yugoslav architecture. If religious heritage is your cup of tea, the country is dotted with mosques, medieval monasteries, churches, tekkes (shrines) and cathedrals. To have a taste of the Ottoman heritage, visit hammams, bazaars and other remains of that period. The brutalist architecture of former Yugoslavia is another attraction to the country. Kosovo has wonderful nature and attractive outdoor spots for biking, mountain hiking, relaxing in traditional cottages or high-end hotels. You can test your adrenaline with zip-lines or via ferrata climbing, and much more. If you would rather mingle with the locals and experience the local lifestyle, the capital city Prishtina has a lot to offer. It buzzes with cafés and bars, cozy restaurants with traditional food and warm hospitality, a number of galleries, museums, and open art spaces.