About the Bradt Guide to Kosovo (2007)
On the eve of Kosovo's final status, a new book attempts to put Kosovo on the European traveler's map. Written by ESI analyst Verena Knaus, and Gail Warrander, an international lawyer based in Pristina, it is the very first travel guidebook ever written on Kosovo alone.
The Kosovo Bradt Guide is written for a special kind of 'tourists'. Those who come to Kosovo as part of the UN and EU mission, diplomats and soldiers, development workers and the sizable Albanian diaspora returning home every summer. Condensed on 300 pages, the guidebook covers Kosovo's past and recent political history and introduces readers to the multi-faceted and rich cultural heritage of this centrally located place in the heart of the Balkans. On the crossroad of Illyrian, Roman, Byzantine, Serbian and Ottoman empires, Kosovo has many more secrets to share than is commonly believed.
With Kosovo about to resolve its status the publication of this book is timely. Disputes about what constitutes Kosovo's cultural heritage have dominated status negotiations that kept UN, EU and US negotiators busy for nearly two years. Stunning fresco cycles in Gracanica monastery or the Patriarchate in Pec (Peja) have been seen as political symbols rather than as cultural and religious monuments. Kosovo Albanians grapple with their own mixed feelings towards Ottoman-era mosques, baths and bridges. For many, harking back to Illyrian times seems a safer bet to claim 'heritage'.
The authors introduce readers to Kosovo's cuisine, wedding rites and cultural traditions. The chapter on Pristina contains the information one needs to navigate around Pristina's bar and restaurant scene. The parts on Prizren, Gjakova and Peja are filled with suggested walks, historical details and suggestions where to stop for a meal. The book also contains detailed descriptions of cultural highlights like the Visoki Decani monastery, the Pec Patriarchate and traditional stone kullas in Isniq and Dranoc. For nature lovers and adventurers there are special sections on walking trails in Dragash, biking tips in Zubin Potok and skiing in Brezovica and the Rugova Canyon.
"We wrote this book for travelers eager to discover an unknown part of Europe, adventurers looking for unspoiled nature off the beaten track and for the diaspora and their children who come back in their summer vacation.
Kosovo is an intriguing place and full of paradoxes and surprises for any first time visitor. How come landlocked Kosovo has such a Mediterranean flair and vibrant outdoor café culture? By what twist of fate has Kosovo become the place with the best coffee anywhere outside Italy? It will also take you two days to understand why this country in the heart of Europe has its main street named after Bill Clinton, celebrates the 4th of July and flies the American flag. … The speed of change in the past years has been mind-boggling. Kosovo was in shambles only eight years ago and today there are few visible traces of the past conflict. Who would think that Kosovo is one of the safest countries in Europe?'
Due to its strategic position at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula, Kosovo has always been an important thorough road and attractive spoil for its conquerors. The name Kosovo (derived from the Serbian word for kos meaning blackbird) was first mentioned after the famous Kosovo battle dating back to 1389. Legends and romanticizing epic songs secured it a special place in Serbian national identity. Kosovo became an important spiritual centre of the Serbian Orthodox church. For nearly 500 years Kosovo was an Ottoman province. As the Ottoman Empire disintegrated, Kosovo was at the centre of competing national claims. The 20th century saw wars and destruction and whereas other parts of Yugoslavia prospered, Kosovo remained poor and underdeveloped. In June 1999, after 78 days of NATO bombardment and the mass flight of nearly 800,000 refugees, Kosovo passed under direct UN administration. For eight years, its people were part of a unique state building experiment in the heart of Europe. With independence around the corner, Kosovo is on the eve of yet another era."