Pristina, Kosovo, has the distinction of often being dismissed as one of Europe’s ugliest capitals. It’s certainly a place I never thought I’d visit. My only reference point of the place was from some dark, distant corner of my mind, remembering tragic news coverage of the Kosovo War in the late 1990s after years of ethnic cleansing that displaced some 750,000 ethnic Albanians. For years, Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority had vied for control of the region against Serbs, who, despite only making up 10% of the population, viewed Kosovo as the cradle of their cultural identity.

Kosovars declared their independence from Serbia in February 2008. Ten years later, I suddenly found myself in this mishmash of a city. Look one way, and minarets of centuries-old mosques reach towards the heavens and newly commissioned statues of domestic and foreign heroes stand tall. Look another way, and once-prestigious landmarks like the state-owned Grand Hotel now sit largely vacant with broken windows. “I don’t think it is the worst hotel in the world,” Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaçi, said to a reporter from The New York Times. “But that is because the world is very big.”

For more, read the full article here by Deborah Huso – BBC Travel.