Priština, the capital of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, is situated on the north-eastern perimeter of the Kosovo valley.
Adjacent to the city, there is a group of Orthodox Christian monasteries, which have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as some of the most representative examples of medieval Ottoman architecture.
And when you have visited everything Priština has to offer, be sure to take a whole-day trip to Grmija mountain or the nearby Gračanica Lake and enjoy the natural wonders of this region.
The ruins of a Neolithic settlement found near Priština provide unambiguous proof of human presence in these parts since prehistoric times.
In classical antiquity, ancient Roman town of Vicianum stood near the site of modern-day Priština, while a Roman fortress was built not far from the nearby town of Gračanica during the reign of Emperor Trajan in the 2nd century.
This city with exciting history, dating all the way back to the Neolithic and classical antiquity, was once an administrative and spiritual centre of medieval Serbia. The numerous cultural and historic monuments and medieval monasteries near Priština are cultural treasures which introduce visitors to local architecture and art and demonstrate the strong ties that existed between the church and the state in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Battle of Kosovo, a major turning point in the history of the medieval Serbian state, also took place near the city.
Priština thrived in the 14th and 15th centuries, when it became one of the mining and commercial centres on the road between Constantinople and Dubrovnik. To this day, Priština remains at a crossroads of major routes connecting Serbia to Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania.
Priština is a melting pot of various influences from the many peoples who have lived here over the centuries. Unsurprisingly, the city and its wider area are dotted with a large number of Islamic and Orthodox Christian shrines.
One of the most beautiful tourist attractions at the very heart of the city is the 15th century Imperial Mosque, distinguished for its perfectly harmonious proportions. The single-storey building with a dome, a high minaret and a covered portico is a typical example of Ottoman Bursa architecture in these parts.
The Taş Mosque and the old Clock Tower, which rises from the heart of Priština’s cultural and historic centre, are also representative examples of medieval Ottoman architecture. A visit to the Emin Gjiku House, built in the 19th century, will give you a glimpse of the life led by the wealthy elite of the period.
Rapid development and industrialisation after World War II turned the oriental-style township into a modern city. The intertwining of medieval buildings and modern architecture creates an eclectic ambience which draws visitors to return to it over and over.
Continue your tour of the area by visiting one of the most beautiful medieval Serbian shrines – Gračanica monastery. Only the Church of the Annunciation still remains of the original monastery complex built by Serbian King Milutin in 1321. This imposing building built on a cross-shaped plan has a striking façademade of successive rows of red brick and stone.
The perfectly preserved frescoes of Gračanica depict diverse motifs. Thus, in the monastery’s interior you can see numerous scenes from the lives of saints and depictions of biblical stories. At the entrance to the church, you will be greeted by portraits of the church’s patron, King Milutin, and his wife Simonida, while inside the church there are as many as 16 portraits of members of the Nemanjić dynasty.
Gračanica monastery, the Patriarchate of Peć, the Church of Our Lady of Ljeviš in Prizren and the 14th-Century Dečani monastery, have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Not far from the monastery lies Gračanica Lake, another perfect picnic spot, which supplies the city with water.
The wider area of Priština is ideal for hunting and fishing. The nearby Lipovica hunting grounds abounds in large game animals, including red deer, roe deer, wild boars, urials and rabbits, while on Koznica and Golja mountains you can also hunt pheasants, partridges and mallards. Local rivers – the Sitnica, the Lab and the Drenica – teem with catfish and common carp, while the beautiful Batlava Lake is home to northern pike and rainbow trout.
Grmija mountain, situated east of Priština, with an altitude of less than 1,100 metres above sea level, is a favourite picnic spot and recreational area for the city’s dwellers and visitors.
The cuisine of the Priština region is a blend of Turkish, Albanian and Serbian influences. Local gastronomy includes various lamb dishes, yoghurt, flija and toplija pies, as well as different types of cheese.
At the nearby town of Gračanica, numerous ethnic restaurants serve succulent stuffed peppers, zucchini and tomatoes in summertime, which are best eaten with a steaming hot pogača (traditional bread) of Kosovo and a shot of rakija brandy.
In the local monasteries, you can sample wines made by monks from grapes grown in their own vineyards. Here you can also buy other products they make, including honey, rakija brandy and tea.
Desserts, which numerous restaurants and pastry shops in and around Priština make according to traditional recipes, are heavily influenced by Turkish cuisine. Halva, baklavas and tufahije here taste the same as they did centuries ago.
And while you’re tasting the mouth-watering desserts of Kosovo, why not taste the traditional corn-based soft drink called boza.
The city of Priština is in the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, which is currently administered by the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).