Even though Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, its status as a disputed territory remains unresolved to this day, making it one of Europe’s most interesting ‘states’. Ever since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Kosovo has found itself at the center of ethnic divisions, tensions and violence, erupting into the Yugoslav wars in the late 1990s, after which it became a UN protectorate. While Kosovo has now been recognized as a sovereign state by 110 UN member states, Serbia has refused to go beyond accepting the legitimacy of Kosovo institutions.
Its controversial history that extends into its present identity makes Kosovo the perfect place to learn about the birth of states and UN involvement in ethnic conflicts. We will first take you to the energetic, ‘newborn’ capital of Pristina where we will have time to explore its captivating architectural variety, including the National Library of Kosovo, which has been termed both one of the ugliest buildings in the world, as well as one of architect Andrija Mutnjaković’s greatest accomplishments. Afterwards, a visit to one of the many international institutions involved in Kosovo conflict resolution will further our understanding of the Yugoslav Wars and the Serbia-Kosovo relationship. Lastly, the beautiful city of Prizren, also known as the cultural capital of Kosovo, which is situated in the wine region, will give us the opportunity to relax and unwind among beautiful nature and impressive buildings. For a state that has been through this much, Kosovo really does an amazing job at concealing its dark past below a vibrant layer of fascinating cities and captivating culture.