After the fall of Rome, Pristina grew from the ruins of the former Roman city. The city was located at a junction of roads leading in all directions throughout the Balkans and it soon rose to become an important trading centre on the main trade routes across south-eastern Europe.
From the 1870s onwards Albanians in the region formed the League of Prizren to resist Ottoman rule, and a provisional government was formed in 1881. On the other hand Serbia tried to enlist the support of Albanians against the Ottomans but this came to nothing, as Albanian Mujahidin were encouraging a policy akin to ethnic cleansing. This increased the number of Kosovo Serbs emigrating from Kosovo, while for their part, Albanians from Albania migrated from the infertile lands of northern Albania to take advantage of the fertile lands of Kosovo.
In March 1981, students at Pristina University rioted over poor food in their university canteen. This seemingly trivial dispute rapidly spread throughout Kosovo and took on the character of a national revolt, with massive popular demonstrations in Pristina and other Kosovo towns. The Communist Yugoslav presidency quelled the disturbances by sending in riot police and the army and proclaiming a state of emergency, with several people being killed in clashes and thousands subsequently being imprisoned or disciplined.
Shopping-wise, Pristina is full of good bargains but low on selection (and if you happen to be a man who wears shirts or pants, forget about it). Silver is sold in the old quarter and is a pretty good value; Albanians are known throughout the former Yugoslavia as silversmiths.
Do as the locals do: In Pristina, this means korza. In the evenings, when it's warm, a large proportion of the population heads out into the streets and promenades, between cafes or in with no particular destination. The objective is to see and be seen, chat with friends, and take in as much fresh air as possible before the horrific winter descends. Note that 53% of Kosovo's population is under the age of 25, so most of the people on the street around dusk are teenagers and people in their early twenties.
- Gračanica Monastery [Manastir Gračanica] The monastery in the village of Gračanica, a short drive south of Pristina, is one of Kosovo's best religious monuments. Completed in 1321 and built by the legendary king of Serbia, Milutin Nemanjic, the Serbian Orthodox monastery church represents the height of Serbian Byzantine tradition. Its real beauty is hidden within, where several distinct periods of fresco painting are extremely well preserved, depicting the early life of Jesus as well as the representations of the ecclesiastical calendar and a terrifying Day of Judgement. The monastery is guarded by police who may require to see your ID. To get there from Pristina, take the bus to Gjilan, which passes through the town after 15 minutes. Note that Gračanica is a Serb enclave that sometimes is the focus of unrest, and some embassies warn against visiting.
- The Clock Tower (Sahat Kulla) dates back to the 19th century. Following a fire, the tower has been reconstructed using bricks. The original bell was brought to Kosovo from Moldavia. It bore an inscription reading "this bell was made in 1764 for Jon Moldova Rumen." In 2001, the original bell was stolen. The same year, French KFOR troops replaced the old clock mechanism with an electric one. Given Kosovo's electricity problems the tower is struggling to keep time.
- The Museum of Kosovo is located in an Austro-Hungarian inspired building originally built for the regional administration of the Ottoman Vilayet of Kosovo. From 1945 until 1975 it served as headquarters for the Yugoslav National Army. In 1963 it was sold to the Kosovo Museum. From 1999 until 2002, the European Agency for Reconstruction had its main office in the museum building. The Kosovo Museum has an extensive collection of archaeological and ethnological artifacts, including the Neolithic Goddess on the Throne terracotta, unearthed near Pristina in 1960 and depicted in the city's emblem. Although a large number of artifacts from antiquity is still in Belgrade, even though the museum was looted in 1999.
- The Fatih Mosque. Opposite the clock tower, the Fatih or Imperial Mosque was built in 1461 under Turkish Sultan Mehmed II Fatih ('the conqueror'), as witnessed by the Arabic engraving above the main door. Inside, painted floral decorations and arabesques grace the walls and ceiling. Pristina's grandest building has a spectacular 15-metre dome resting on support pillars, an architectural feat at the time of construction. The minaret is a reconstruction after the original was damaged during an earthquake in 1955. The mosque was briefly turned into a church during the Austro-Turkish wars from 1690-1698. During Friday payers, the congregation spreads out into the courtyard and even onto the street to pray.
- Newborn Monument Missing a central rallying point in the heady days of the declaration of independence in February 2008, these seven huge yellow steel letters spelling out the word 'newborn' were placed in front of the Palace of Youth and Sports. The three metre high letters were quickly covered in autographs and texts, scribbled by thousands of people starting with the PM and president.