A legacy of destruction
Communism was responsible for a programme of planned destruction of cultural heritage in Kosovo. A policy of neglect under Milosevic was followed - in 1998/1999 - by a campaign of physical destruction of cultural monuments across Kosovo. In Pristina town, the Llapi mosque was set on fire and the collection of manuscripts of the Islamic Community perished in flames.
On 9 June 1999, the Serbian authorities took the archive of the Kosovo Institute for the Protection of Monuments to Belgrade. No records have been returned since. The Kosovo Museum is also waiting for the return of 1,247 archaeological and ethnological exhibit pieces taken to Belgrade for an exhibition.
The period since 1999, however, did not reverse this negative trend. Negligence and the legacy of destruction continued. In August 2000, the Association of Architects of Kosovo published a letter urging action:
'As a result of the destruction as well as illegal construction the historical heart of the city and objects of architectural and urban value, which reflect our entire cultural heritage, are being badly affected.'
In March 2004, a 19th century Iconostasis and the roof of the Serb Orthodox Saint Nicolas church were burned by a mob.