Reflecting on visiting Europe’s newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover.

As we made our way through the Balkans on our 4 month trip around Eastern Europe this year the country we knew least what to expect from was the newest: Kosovo. A country whose name brings about images of war, refugees and suffering, even the county itself is still a controversial concept across the region. Not too many people sit on the fence here with regards their in limbo independence. What we found in this “Newborn” country was a culture combination we never expected, from a modern capital to Ottoman culture and Albanian identity and Yugoslavian memories. Kosovo took us my surprise on many levels.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

Visiting the modern capital

We were unsure what to expect of the capital Pristina, would it be the broken and bombed out place the name suggests, or would it be a place of tradition and history. What we found was a strange city in many respects, the most accurate way to describe it would be an unremarkable and yet infinitely fascinating. It is much more modern that we expected it to be, much more forward and youthful.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

Observing everyday life

Being a new country, only declaring independence in 2008 it lives up to its young age in the capital. There is a real vibrance and soul here, if not many “sights” to see. There is a real wonder in everyday life in this buzzing capital. Yet there is still history to be found, the overall character is of a modern, progressive and open minded city.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

Everyday life here is simple, local and warm. People come together, they make things work and they get on with it. They work together to create life that is just like anywhere else, but in its uniqueness is a truly authentic experience to wander around.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

Kosovo might not have the block buster sights, but its everyday trumps the tourist traps of more popular nations in its honestly and approachability.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

Heading down south for a taste of traditional Kosovo

Kosovo might be a young country in terms of official independence, but these lands have been inhabited for thousands of years by a multitude of different people. Journeying down to the beautiful city of Prizen in the south of the country this history really comes alive.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

Crumbling old Ottoman houses line the stone bridged river as it flows through the city in the shadow of a stunning mountain range. Here traditions sing as loudly as the call to prayer from the beautifully mosaiced 17th century mosque which dominates it centre.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

A coming together of cultures

Kosovo is in a unique mixing pot of culture and history. On the surface it appears almost identical to Albania as you breeze through the rural landscape (minus the bunkers!). But look a little closer and the history of the formation of this country shows its face. Churches and Mosques stand side by side, Albanian flags fly just as high as the Kosovan colours.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

What makes Kosovo really special is how Albanian and Yugoslavian culture has been combined here. Where Albania was cut off from the rest of the world Kosovo benefitted from the progression of the powerful Yugoslavian nation it as part of. But at the same time it has had to fight and fight for independence, to be recognised on its own and is fiercely proud of that too. That fight and hunger remains in a brave honesty. But the Albania culture and identity is still a huge part of what makes a Kosovan.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

Discussing identity

Speaking to the young Kosovans in our hostel about the Albanian red that dominates the country. They tell us with pride that they are ethnic Albanians, they share a language, culture and history. But yet they also know they are different, have suffered different battles, wars and persecutions. They have been occupied, denied their identity and independence.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

At times you could be forgiven for thinking you are in Albania in Kosovo, but never Serbia. Kosovo still retains an air of a former Yugoslavian nation however. Where Albania still feels somewhat cut off from the rest of the world Kosovo feels like a modern cosmopolitan nation. Like many Yugoslavian’s a lot of Kosovan’s look back on this time with rose tinted nostalgia. Reflecting on their freedom of movement, plentiful jobs and the sharing of cultures with a nation of nation.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

True heart and warmth

The real overriding impression that Kosovo leaves you with is an openness and warmth. For a country so victimised the people have retained that very Albanian trait of friendliness and approachability. We were able to speak to so many people over here, from chatting all night with the staff in the hostel to deep conversations on buses and fun chance encounters in the park.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

The people of Kosovo love to know who you are and why you are in their tiny and misunderstood country. They speak openly of their suffering, of their identity and continuing struggles but of their overwhelming pride! There are so many things to do in Kosovo it is well worth making the extra effort to visit this often over looked country.

Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover, newborn, things to see, what is it like, can I visit Kosovo, is it safe to visit kosovo, border, adventure, culture, yugoslavia, serbia, albania

Have you ever visited a country with such soul?

See more from this country:

KOSOVO

See our round the world adventure here:

UK TO NZ

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Reflecting on visiting Europe's newest but little visited country: Kosovo. The once tormented state with a historic heart and a fascinating culture to discover > https://theroamingrenegades.com/2016/09/reflecting-visiting-kosovo-culture.html

Nicola Hilditch-Short

Nic is one half of the Roaming Renegades, a passionate traveller, climber, adventurer, photographer and artist who has a B.A in Fine Art and M.A in Design & Art Direction.
  • Danik Bates

    Great blog and cant wait to get to Kosovo one day 🙂 Great read guys 🙂

  • Looks like Kosovo have some catching up to do but then again, these sort of experiences is memorable. I wish to visit Kosovo one day and experience this place first hand!

  • Vyjay Rao

    It is indeed fascinating to visit a young country which is just born. I can imagine the atmosphere of hope and a new beginning lending a unique vibrancy to the place. The mosque in the centre reminds me of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

    • Yes, the Ottoman influences here are huge and it feels very much like Turkey, the mosque is just as beautiful too and the energy just as high.

    • Yes, many places in this region have that Ottoman charm that make them feel very much like Turkey and the mosque is just as beautiful.

  • Wow this looks like a really great time! I cannot wait to visit this area of the world!

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  • eBaulaTravel

    I may not know the entire history but it’s very touching to see a country ruined by war and is now moving ahead leaving behind its pain and suffering. My best friend is from Kosovo and the scars from their experience makes them stonger. Would visit it someday!

    • Yes, it was so amazing to see how well it is doing and how the country is moving forward. There still is a lot of hurt though.

  • Nancy Pitman

    It’s nice to see that you are going to countries otherwise have been downgraded travelers and that you are finding that they are more than worth a visit. Your trip and experience in Kosovo is making this area a place to visit in the near future.

    • We have always wanted to visit this region and it has proved to us how amazing it is!