Prishtina, the capital of the youngest country in Europe Kosovo, is a far too little visited jewel! It has the youngest population in Europe (this of course equals really great nightlife), amazing culture and lots of fun things to do in a relatively compact area. And they have Albanians & Kosovars … some of the kindest people on earth who will be so happy to welcome you in their capital! And yes, it’s perfectly safe.
On our Spotted by Locals Prishtina blog locals write about their favorite spots – not tourist highlights you would find in travel guidebooks. But there aren’t many travel guidebooks about Prishtina, and plenty of things first time visitors of Prishtina might like to see! We list some of the nicest things you can do “on the tourist track”. Amazingly, they’re all free to visit!
At the end of this post we list some awesome resources to learn more about this country & city.
Kosovo’s National Library in Prishtina
Built in 1982, designed by Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjaković, and definitely the one of the most recognizable buildings in Prishtina. It’s huge (16,500 square meters) and nobody is exactly sure what the extraordinary design represents.
Some call it the ugliest building in the world, and Prishtina locals happily take this as the compliment that it is! The National Library in Kosovo (a.k.a. ” “Pjetër Bogdani”) is so different from any other building in the world – we think you can only love it. In real life it looked even cooler than we thought.
Opening times: Monday – Saturday 07:00 – 20:00, Sunday closed
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/1p7sQJ2b8sXoMTnS6
The National Museum of Kosovo
The National Museum of Kosovo had to start all over after independence in 2008, when it turned out many Kosovo cultural treasures were removed by Serbia before and during the war of independence. It only recently opened and has some very interesting exhibitions on the history of Kosovo.
There is very little signage in English, but it’s a great way to see what Kosovo has gone through over time. Get a photograph with the “Goddess on the throne” pottery figure – the symbol of Prishtina!
Another reason not to skip this museum: the government provides free entrance.
Opening times: Monday to Friday Monday 09:30 – 17:30, Sunday 11:00 – 15:00
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/tZDC8BG8jzZLvg2q6
The Emin Gjiku Ethnological Museum
Another free to enter museum, the Ethnological Museum is made up of various 18th and 19th century houses. Almost everything from the decor is hand-carved or hand-made. The main room (living room), has a huge beautiful closet made out of wood. Then there is the part with traditional red carpets and many decorations all around. The garden is huge and really beautiful.
The guide is always available to tell the history of the complex (which is pretty impressive) and also to answer any other questions.
Opening times: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 – 17:00, Sunday 10:00 – 15:00
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/houHim6MAaDLhgLS7
The NEWBORN monument
Everyone self-respecting Instagram account owner takes a picture here!
This monument was unveiled on 17 February 2008, the day that Kosovo formally declared its independence from Serbia. Frequently, it’s repainted with another theme, or the letters are re-shuffled. Above you can see how the monument looked when Kosovo celebrated 10 years of independence.
Above is how the multiple award winning monument looked in 2013 – it’s the most successful design so far according to many locals!
Opening times: 24 hours a day
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/xga4JeGPLbLBBNKS6
The Imperial Mosque
Today, 90-92% of Kosovo’s population are Muslims, most of whom are ethnic Albanians. Many don’t go to the mosque, but there are some really nice ones!
The Imperial Mosque, also known as the Ottoman mosque, Sultan Mehmet Fatih II mosque or (local name) Xhamia e Madhe, was built in 1461 by Sultan Mehmet II Fatih. It has one of the largest domes of 15th century mosques in the region. Especially take a look at the painted ceilings over the main entrance (see picture) and study the beautiful details on the inside of the mosque. Wear appropriate clothing and take off your shoes when entering.
There are plans to build a central mosque in town, which would be able to accommodate many more worshipers. It’s controversial though, and has been stalled for a while!
Opening Times: varies, no entry during worship
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/zNgqA4j19sGWoFo37
The Bill Clinton memorial
Bill Clinton did a lot of good for Kosovo. He’s called the “founding father of Kosovo” and the people in Prishtina will remember this forever with a street named after him and a Bill Clinton statue. Clinton visited the city in June 2019 again, to be present at the 20th anniversary of NATO troops entering Kosovo and ending the war.
Opening Times: 24 hours a day
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/yAwTyVBBABkiUKZf8
Independence House of Kosovo
The first President of Kosovo Ibrahaim Rugova’s house is open to the public. It’s not so big, but it’s interesting. One of the highlights is the gold seal of the president of Kosovo laid into the floor. There’s also the Kosovo Declaration of Independence and lots of cool pictures showing the history of Kosovo.
English speaking guides are available, and very good and friendly.
Opening times: Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 17:00, Sunday closed
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/5dh4qWJ8k532nnRd8
Some really good websites about Kosovo & Pristina:
- Kosovo Girl Travels – insightful tips like What do you call people from Kosovo and a very handy and extensive public transport guide to Prishtina.
- Kosovo Info – a very insightful website by a passionate imported Kosovo local with all kinds of interesting facts about Kosovo, from Dua Lipa to Kosovo Football
- Be in Kosovo – a well designed website with lots of info
- Prishtina Insight – impressive high quality independent journalism straight from Prishtina, made possible by BIRN.
- K2.0 (Kosovo 2.0) – A very good blog with in-depth articles with an cutting edge designed paper magazine.
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