‘Sheshi Mis Durham’ is named after Miss Edith Durham. Its central position in town is an appropriate honour for a woman who contributed so much to the English-speaking world’s knowledge of the Balkans in general and the Albanians in particular.
Edith Durham first came to the Balkans in 1900 but it wasn’t until 1903 that she visited what is now Kosovo. She returned on future journeys and included her impressions of the area in her books, High Albania and Through the Land of the Serbs, both of which are lively accounts that serve as great background reading if you’re spending time in the region.
Of Prishtina she wrote dismissively, ‘From above most taking. Red roof, green trees, white minarets. Within, frowsy and dirty and ramshackle.’
As well as her writing (of 7 books), Durham became an anthropological authority on the area, becoming the first woman to hold the position of Vice Chair of the Royal Anthropological Institute in London as a result of her collections and writings about a little-known area of Europe.
She is loved in Kosovo (where she was also the first woman to appear on a Republic of Kosovo stamp) and Albania not only for her writing but also for her humanitarian work for the Albanians at the time of the Balkan wars, and for her tireless lobbying for Albanian rights when borders were drawn in the area from 1912 onwards.