Priština is the capital and largest city of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija and is its economic, cultural and university centre. It lies on the northeastern edge of the Kosovo basin, in the shadow of Grmija mountain. The city is 365 km from Belgrade and 136 km from Niš, and sits at the crossroads of important routes leading from Serbia to Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania. The Veluša stream flows through Priština, joining the Prištevka river in the city itself and then the Sitnica river in turn. Priština has its own international airport at Slatina.
Current estimates place the population of Priština at over 500,000. The majority of the population is comprised of Albanians, with the rest made up of Turks, Serbs, Bosniaks and Roma. Around 40,000 Serbs left Priština following the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. Two large provincial towns, Obilić and Kosovo Polje, are located near Priština.
The remains of a Neolithic settlement are located near Priština. In classical antiquity, the Roman settlement of Vicianum was located near present-day Priština and the remains of Ulpiana, a Roman town founded in the 2nd century during the reign of Imperator Trajan, lie not far from Gračanica.
Priština underwent a revival in the 14th and 15th centuries when it became a mining and trade centre on the road between Dubrovnik and Constantinople. For a time it was the seat of Serbian rulers, but under Turkish rule the economic importance of Priština declined until 1875, when it became the centre of the Ottoman Sandžak. Priština was liberated from the Turks in 1912. Up until the end of the Second World War, the city had maintained an oriental appearance, with small and narrow houses made of adobe. Rapid construction took place after the war and Priština gained the appearance of a modern city. The city draws the interest of tourists because of the contrast between old and new architecture and the large number of cultural and historical sites. The most important Turkish-period cultural and historical attractions in Priština are the 15th-century Emperor’s Mosque (Carska Džamija), the Stone Mosque (Taš-Džamija), the Clock Tower (Sahat-Kula) and the Emincik House (Kuća Emindžika), which is a typical 19th-century upper class oriental residence.
Gračanica monastery, built south of Priština in 1321, is the endowment of King Milutin and is one of the most beautiful mediaeval Serbian monasteries. The Gazimestan monument, near Priština, stands on the site of the Battle of Kosovo, in which the Turks defeated the army of Serbian Prince Lazar in 1389, clearing the way for further conquests in Europe.
Gračaničko Jezero lake, which supplies the city water via the Badovac system, lies 15 km south of the city in the direction of Gnjilane. The area surrounding Priština offers excellent opportunities for hunting and angling tourism. Lipovica hunting ground, 35 km southwest of Priština, is rich in red deer, fallow deer, wild boar, mouflon and rabbit. Batlavsko Jezero lake, which is abundant in pike and trout amongst other fish, is 25 km southeast of Priština. The lake is surrounded by forest and the Koznica and Golja mountains are rich in small and large game (fallow deer, red deer, rabbit, pheasant, partridge and wild duck). The nearby rivers – Sitnica, Lab and Drenica – have large stocks of fish (catfish, carp and pike). Grmija mountain is located 6 km east of Priština and ranges between 700 m and 1,100 m above sea-level. It is a favourite spot for picnics and recreation among the residents of Priština.
Priština is located in the territory of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija which is currently under the administration of UNMIK (the UN Interim Mission in Kosovo).