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Location - South east Europe; Capital - Pristina; Population - 1.9 million; Currency - Euro

I returned to Skopje from Ohrid and was looking forward to a scenic train ride back to Pristina. However it looks like the route has officially been culled, so it was a straightforward 2hr minibus trip to the capital of Kosovo - October 2017.

Kosovo remains a disputed territory. Part of Serbia until civil war and claims of ethnic cleansing provoked a NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, it proclaimed independence for a second time in 2008. Today Serbia still sees Kosovo as part of Serbia and many countries, including Russia, are yet to recognise it as an independent state.


euro1Although Kosovo is not in the EU, it uses the Euro. In ethnically Serbian areas the Serbian Dinar is common, particularly in the north.










kosovo4445I headed straight to the attractive city of Prizren for a day-trip, where a steep walk to the ruins of the 11th century fortress gives great views


kosovo35On the right is the minaret of the Sinan Pasha Mosque - Prizren


kosovo48I think the backdrop to Prizren are the Shar Mountains















kosovo40Looking down on the ruins of the Serbian Orthodox Holy Saviour Church - Prizren














kosovo32The 14th century church was destroyed by Kosovans in 1990 and used to be heavily guarded until recently - Prizren


kosovo50The lonely figure of the church guard - Prizren


kosovo30 A condemned building on the route to the castle - Prizren















kosovo5The Prizren Bistrica River 'flows' through the centre of the city, which is lined with cafes on the right hand side. High above are the fortress walls of the 11th century castle - Prizren













kosovo17The Sinan Pasha Mosque on the right of the river, and just behind it on the hill in the distance is the Serbian Orthodox Holy Saviour Church - Prizren


kosovo16A 15th century Ottoman bridge spans the river - Prizren


kosovo19The cafes really busy up straight after Friday afternoon prayers, marking the beginning of the weekend - Prizren














kosovo6There's many statues of military figures around Kosovo. This is Khevat Berisha (1961-1998) - Prizren














kosovo7The entrance sign to another Serbian orthodox church in the centre of Prizren warns against vandalism and looting. KFOR is the NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo


kosovo8This is the church - fortunately today the presence of KFOR troops is absent aside from one security guard. But things can change quickly.. - Prizren


kosovo24A KFOR vehicle parked above a wall of street art - Prizren















kosovo10The 17th century Sinan Pasha Mosque is right in the centre of Prizren, set among cafes and souvenir shops















kosovo27An important building in Prizren is the League of Prizren complex, aimed at establishing Albanian autonomy back in the 19th century. Kosovo and Albania are linked by language (though different dialects), ethnicity and religion, and you'll see the Albanian flag flown in Kosovo more than the Kosovan flag


kosovo29Ismet Jashari (1967-1998) was a prominent member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA, or UÇK in Albanian) which fought for Kosovan independence - Prizren


kosovo3I followed the drum beats to see what was going on and stumbled across a wedding celebration. At least I'm guessing it was a wedding.. - Prizren













kosovo2Does Rita know about this?! British-based singer Rita Ora was born in Pristina as Rita Sahatçiu - Prizren



















kosovo53Yes this is a statue of former US president Bill Clinton, honouring the role America played in Kosovo's gaining of independence. A few metres away is a clothes shop called Hillary (not a coincidence! Apparently she's been there) - Pristina


kosovo63'Where Is The Hotspot? Republic of Kosovo'. At least that's what Google Translate tells me - Pristina


kosovo60The Newborn monument was unveiled on 17 February 2008, the day Kosovo declared independence - Pristina














kosovo64 I read that the Independence House of Kosovo is housed in Ibrahim Rugova's house, but it looks pretty small. Maybe he was a modest man - Pristina













kosovo66A mural of Ibrahim Rugova, the first President of independent Kosovo, who served as leader on two occasions. He died in 2006 - Pristina


kosovo65Zahir Pajaziti (1962-1997) was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army - Pristina


kosovo68On the lively pedestrianised Bulevardi Nena Tereze there's a wall of photos of people. The graffiti refers to something about collaborators but no idea if there's any link - Pristina















kosovo69Skanderbeg is a national hero, a 15th century Albanian military commander - Pristina














kosovo74On a wall inside Kosovo Museum is an impressive mural of Mother Theresa, made from thousands of staples. She was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in Macedonia but was of Albanian-Indian descent - Pristina


kosovo78It was a very wet, cold day and my camera was full of water, so this is my best photo of Sultan Mehmet Fatih Mosque in the old quarter - Pristina


kosovo81These painted stone flags form part of a WWII monument called the Monument to Brotherhood & Unity - Pristina















kosovo83The Roman Catholic Mother Teresa Cathedral was only completed a few years ago - Pristina















kosovo87A water fountain in Ibrahim Rugova Square marks the start/end of Bulevardi Nena Tereze, with the former Hotel Union behind. Just down a set of steps to the left is an excellent bar-restaurant called Soma Book Station. All in all Pristina feels like the hub of Kosovo with plenty of bars, cafes, shops, museums and restaurants but it's not an attractive city. For that, choose Prizren and Peja - Pristina


kosovo86Brilliant! Inspecting the restaurant extractor chute on the roof - Pristina


kosovo93Love the train station murals! Haven't seen this anywhere else - Pristina













kosovo94Pity the train to Peja was cancelled! Off to the the bus station instead.. - Pristina














kosovo98Take a short ride on a Gjilan-bound bus to Gracanica, one of the Serbian enclaves in Kosovo south of Pristina. It's home to Gracanica Monastery, its perimeter wall shown here bound with barbed wire - Pristina


kosovo101No guns - and definitely no beachwear! Every day had been blue sky and temperatures in the 20s, but today was snow, rain and just a few degrees above freezing - Pristina


kosovo103The Serbian Orthodox monastery dates back to the 14th century. When I visited a lot of fresco restoration work was going on - Pristina













kosovo107 This piece of street art in Gracanica looks like some sort of political statement - Pristina















I was lucky enough to bump into Vlora, a Mitrovica local, on my way to visit the divided city. She was an unexpected guide which included crossing the divide to the Serbian area where her family used to live


kosovo109My first sight of Mitrovica in the north of Kosovo was the Sand's Mosque, as far as I know the main mosque in town


kosovo111A mural promoting the empowerment of women, linked to International Women's Day - Mitrovica















kosovo113Isa Boletini was a nationalist figure born in 1864 in present day Kosovo - Mitrovica














kosovo110Again there's several miltary statues in Mitrovica, though it takes on extra significance in a city divided along ethnic lines. South Mitrovica is largely Kosovan while the north is predominantly Serbian


kosovo114Albanian flags fly alongside the statues in south Mitrovica - Mitrovica


kosovo117A police van stands alongside Mitrovica Bridge, the bridge across the Ibar River and symbol of the divide between Kosovo and Serbia - Mitrovica














kosovo120It's used as a miltary checkpoint, and though it has lanes it's currently closed to vehicles. The metal fencing is the controversial remnant of a 2m high concrete wall Serbia began to build in 2016 - North Mitrovica













kosovo127KFOR soldiers walk up the main street in North Mitrovica


kosovo130Serbian flags line the road, signs are in Cyrillic, shops sell Serbian newspapers and most local produce is from Serbia - Mitrovica


serbianote1Though still in Kosovo, North Mitrovica uses the Serbian Dinar but it's possible to use Euros in some places, including a souvenir shop I surprisingly came across near the bridge


kosovo131Prince Lazar was a 14th century Serbian leader and revered as a saint by the Orthodox Church - North Mitrovica















kosovo132The Serbian flag on a mural in North Mitrovica















kosovo134The city is known as Kosovo Mitrovice in Serbia (the two words at the bottom) - I'm trying to get a translation of the rest, so if you know please pass on! North Mitrovica


kosovo136St Demetrius Church is a new Serbian Orthodox church built above North Mitrovica


kosovo137The view of North Mitrovica from St Demetrius Church















kosovo135Further up the hill above the church is the Miners Monument - North Mitrovica















kosovo128Returning down the main street to Mitrovica Bridge and back to Pristina - North Mitrovica


kosovo146The main square in Peja, the third city of Kosovo, set beneath the Rugova Mountains of western Kosovo














kosovo152The Rugova Mountains form a beautiful backdrop to the city - Peja














kosovo156The late 19th century Goska Family stonehouse. There's quite a few of these old stonehouses in Peja, known as kullas


kosovo158Certainly not the street art I was expecting! Leatherface 'greets' visitors to a residential flat in Peja


kosovo161Around the corner is a barbed comment about the granting of EU visas, all done Banksy-style - Peja














kosovo185One of several mosques in Peja, this one being on the pleasant 15min walk to the Patriarchate of Peć















kosovo165The walk to the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate of Peć takes you closer to the base of the Rugova Mountains where the valley narrows - Peja


kosovo166It's a very scenic and tranquil area around the Patriarchate of Peć (Peć being the Serbian name for Peja), at least until the tour buses arrive! - Peja


kosovo179The oldest part of the church and monastery complex dates to the 13th century - Peja














kosovo183The Patriarchate consists of three chapels, all adorned with centuries-old frecoes - Peja














kosovo171KFOR soldiers used to guard the church complex, but now there's just a police guard-post where you register your passport. There's a souvenir shop where bottles of potent slivovitz are produced using fruit from the monastery's orchards - Peja


kosovo186Mountainous scenery on the bus ride from Peja to Montenegro - Peja



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