The research on Pristina focuses on culture, history and architecture. These dimensions are explored through personal accounts and tend to offer a pool of multiperspectival narratives, democratizing public discourse and the way local histories are told. By means of digital storytelling we want to bring out the many facets of the city and contribute towards a multilayered understanding of urban and socio-economic developments, starting from the interwar period until today.

Pristina project is part of the “Inter-community Dialogue through Inclusive Cultural Heritage Preservation” project funded by the European Union’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) and implemented by United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) in Kosovo.

 

Zenun Çelaj

Journalist

Even the Palace has a history. In several places, its foundations were laid, but only the foundations, but never constructed. […] There we laid the foundations of Rilindja first, Fadil Hoxha laid them but it was never built. Then it was laid behind the stadium, not quite behind, but more to… at the flower post, and there too was not built. There they laid the foundations where the Grand Hotel is today, and always Fadil Hoxha would do the ceremony. So it’s an interesting history. 

Imer Shkreli was a journalist at Rilindja, he would also write satirical texts. And he writes this satirical text about ‘The man with the foundational stones on his shoulders,’ and describes all this without mentioning the name of Fadil Hoxha. That became a political problem and he was expelled from the party because he ridiculed him. And now, after all this time, came Ismail Bajraj as the head of Rilindja, he died, and he was also very… Serious, but he managed to push the project. The investments were secured and construction of the Media Palace started, perhaps in the ‘70, ‘71. The data exists, but I can’t remember right now. It was completed in four-five years.

Mahmut Mumci

Pulmonologist

In the Old Bazaar, right where you would enter the street of ropemakers, there was a synagogue. At the Bazaar, other than the Turkish and Albanian Pristina folk, the Jewish people had shops as well. From back then, I remember personally two quilt making shops, a watchmaker, and I know two tailors as well. Karakušević Nasko, Jewish, he was a watchmaker. From the Prličević family, they are a family of Jewish descendants as well, they were tailors. These are some of the old craftsmen in that bazaar. 

Where exactly was the synagogue?

Eh, now the synagogue, you know the Parliament Building today, the back entrance or the largest entrance of it is there, right in front of it. The synagogue was not there when they demolished that area, the synagogue was relocated, and it still stands to this day relocated like that. House of Emincik, the current Ethnological Museum, right in front of that museum, the synagogue has been moved there. 

And the Jewish families, they have left?

The Jewish families, based on what I know, there were many families here during the Second World War, and they were hidden by the old families here in the city during those times, protected. Some of them were captured by the German occupiers and sent to camps. And later, I think after 1947, when Israel was established, they slowly moved there. I remember right above Taukbahçe, the place called the Jewish Cemetery. Since it was not very far away from my neighborhood, we would go there often. There were maybe, I do not know the exact number, but around twelve large tombs, sarcophaguses. We would go climb above them, sunbathe lying there, on top of the stones. There were Jewish symbols and Hebrew writings on them. I do not know if that place is still there, I had heard that two to four tombs were left, and they had put it under protection. But I haven’t seen it since.

Edmond (Edi) Pruthi

Entrepreneur

We had many games, many. […] from the most famous ones, the most famous game was Autofront, but Albanians called it Autron. Car game with a Ferrari. The lead had a girlfriend and they would go to Miami, or wherever you wanted, you could choose where you wanted to go. And it had a wheel, and when you were off the lane it would shake you (smiles). You know to give an illusion of reality. 

Then there was Operation Wolf and Operation Bear, it had both names. But here, the customers called it the A47 automatic gun, it had a rifle. It was quite a big gaming machine and for the sensor of the rifle or whatever gun it was to work, for the sensor to work, to give results in the screen, you could not shoot directly at the screen, but there was a mirror, you had to do mirroring. […]

Maybe those gun games were a bit more popular in the ‘90s (smiles), but maybe we liked guns only in games. Mortal Kombat also, Mortal Kombat was as popular as Fortnite and similar today. Then we had Mortal Kombat. Kick Off was a football game, now you have FIFA a newer version. The games I mentioned were all two-dimensional.

Isa Rexha

Economist

I knew… I know everything about the Grand Hotel, everything, I don’t wanna say it but I also knew how many spoons there were, because I did the balancing, registration, balancing. There isn’t a point in the Grand Hotel that I don’t know in detail. I know the rooms better, so to say, rather than the host. I know the storehouse better than the storehouse worker does, or used to. I know better what was in the storehouse rather than the storehouse worker, or the kitchen the inventory they used. Because I dealt every month, at least once a month with them. Registrations, balancing, so… 

Did you have your spoons, since you mentioned spoons, were they engraved?

Yes.

Who made those?

We ordered them… We had them, but now, since you wanna know about the inventory at the time when Grand Hotel was built, Tito, I am talking about Tito again, he brought his own inventory for 300 people all silver, silver inventory for 300 people. When I say 300 people, I mean with all of it. With exceptions, what couldn’t be in silver, was crystal, first-class crystal. The silver inventory was made by Famipa from Prizren, Famipa from Prizren.

I am telling you there was a special care, the reality of how it’s good to accept a… It’s very special that the noble inventory, how we used to call it back then, silver, noble, was checked by Serbian police every six months. One single thing couldn’t be missing.

Jakup Qeshmexhiu

Tailor

I remember Pristina very well because I used to work at the Çarshi [Bazaar], that even Çarshi of Sarajevo or Skopje’s Bit Bazaar was not as great as our Çarshi. But, unfortunately, at the time, the occupier ruled and they were making us take it down bit by bit and lose the aesthetics of our city, and they achieved their goal. But mostly our people achieved that goal. I’ve worked in this craft since I was 14 years old.

I finished the former 28 Nëntori High School, at the high school of economics. These streets were paved with cobblestone, paved with cobblestone you know what it means, they were paved with stones. Our street was all muddy, and then it was paved with stones. Then from being stone-paved it started, no, it was paved with stones again, and then it was paved with concrete. Now, it is concrete, but it seems like it’s still paved with stones, the same.

The city was… now, it’s a fact that it’s been built, but back then it used to look way, way, way much more beautiful than now. But, to be honest, even the people were better then rather than now, there was no hatred for one another.

Münir Curi

Electrician

My father really liked Turkish classical music, while he was listening to them all day on the radio, he improved himself and he started playing banjo. After the mandolin, they bought a banjo and he started playing along with the radio, he didn’t have a professional degree. Music notes and such, he picked up playing banjo and improved himself. So in those times the associations were established, cultural associations. […] 

My father used to sing, he was a sound artist, he used to have a really nice voice, really nice. And while he was listening to songs on the radio, he was enjoying and learning. So while playing music together, he soon became very famous in this area. “Oh, there is a Rasim, Rasim, his surname is Rüşüt, but who is Rasim? Rasim is Salih’s son. Rasim, Barber Salih’s son, Master Salih, Salih’s son.” Rasim and Rasim Salih, that is how they started calling him, Rasim Salih. […]

There were more Turks living in Kosovo back then, unfortunately, a lot of them migrated. Then the [Executive] Council makes a decision in which Rasim Salih has to move to Pristina and establish an orchestra. The entire group of four friends, they wanted them to move to Pristina. Yes, no, yes, no, the final decision was that in the year ‘51 my dad moved here to establish the orchestra.

Avni Emincik

Dental technician

When we were here, we left in ‘59, but in ‘58 we gave the house to the Municipality, we didn’t give it to anyone else, and the house became a museum. When it became a museum, in one year, most of the workers were Serbian, and I started to talk to them in Serbian. They used to take me with them, I was seven years old, six-seven years old, they took me with them. They took me to do rounds with their car. They were calling me, I was in a carriage going to throw the trash away with them, ‘Come on Avni, come on Avni!’ So they were kind to me. They were loving, even though they were Serbian. After that, we moved as a family to Turkey. We immigrated. 

It was like that when they first came, the Serbs brought animals, like dogs, bears. After that, I remembered something, I told you that before that I entered inside the house for five minutes and a wolf escaped from the den, and it started attacking around. Fortunately, our house had a garden and its doors were locked. This was sometime between ‘58 and ‘59. 

You had a wolf in your garden?

Yes, a wolf in the garden had attacked everyone. We gave them blankets, and the caretaker saved them, and himself as well. Because the wolf was violent, was not a tamed animal. They had taken it from the mountains, brought it here. Later, they turned the rooms of the house to a forest. It was turned into a forest. There were stuffed bears, snakes, etc. There were six rooms, three on the upper floor and three downstairs, had opened it up for the tourists.  One always feels a chip on the shoulder about it, you feel sad, inevitably.

Sazan Shita

Housewife

At the time Ernest Koliqi had sent three-hundred teachers to Kosovo. Everywhere, in the villages and everywhere schools in the Albanian language started. In Mitrovica, Bedri Gjinaj, he was born and raised in Mitrovica, but educated in Albania. You know, how they used to go secretly… but very capable, he was a very capable man. When I enrolled, not only I, but the entire class, the first thing we learned was the flag. I was familiar with it, but his teachings were effective, whatever he would say stuck with you. When we began the class, he said to us, ‘Let’s learn the flag song.”’ {She recites} 

Oh red and black flag, 

all the joy and love that you wave, 

makes my heart spring with you, 

in the fields and meadows, 

mountains and brooks forward with you, 

I will fight fearlessly,

though I am young

I am your soldier and I’ll say,

Today that freedom has come,

May the  Albanian flag live long.’

When I went home, I recited it to my father, what a hug he gave to me, his tears poured out of joy. Of course… that school year, it was like ten years in one. Everything that they taught us, the lectures were such that you understood and internalized them immediately.

Shefqet Mullafazliu

Architect

At the intersection, you know, from Zahir Pajaziti Square and from this side of the Garibaldi Street… because in architecture, at the intersection, the corners always get blocked. The reason was not to block the view, and I came up with the idea to propose that solution, and he [lead architect] accepted it. Opposite of blocking the view, it attracted a lot of attention. I proposed a triangle, it does not have any function, but it’s like the make-up on a woman’s face. He accepted it, and this is how the idea was born. The bank being a bank has its standards and one cannot step out of those standards: the counters, the administrative section, the treasury on the first and second [floor], and so on. […] the bank has an advisor in the bank. We have submitted our proposal, the record exists, we have explained how the banks are being designed in the world. Though they were bankers, they have traveled, but to design did not know how and they could not.

Adnan Merovci

University lecturer

Rugova stayed, but people, that… the fact itself that everyone knew we were held hostage was discouraging for the people in Kosovo. Even those that had some courage to stay, to hide, it affected them negatively. The interview that I mentioned, it restored hope in people, because they realized we were alive, I’m saying it had this element of encouragement. But with time they started improvising, founding governing bodies, inviting people to come back, this kind of stuff was done under the the threat of bombing. Rugova never in his life tried to stop the bombings, it is a misunderstanding and misinterpretation and what not… when it is a misunderstanding, you say it, it was said, but it was misunderstood. 

No, no, not even for a second did Ibrahim Rugova say that the bombings should stop. If you take a press statement and there it says, let’s say, even if you signed under pressure by removing the term ‘Metohi’, and you say, ‘We are in favor of a peaceful solution and the bombs were dropped to achieve peace’. So what do you make of it? But, ‘I ask for the bombing to stop and to start a peace process’ or similar stuff like this, while Ibrahim Rugova was alive he never said that.