Eat, drink, read, and party at the bookshop cafe at the heart of Pristina’s art scene | The Escapist

The Escapist

Where?

Pristina, Kosovo

What?

A gem in the heart of Europe’s youngest capital, this bookshop cafe feels like the house party you always wanted to be invited to. Dit’ e Nat’ opened in 2009 as a project to regenerate community spaces and create a hub for young talent in post-war Kosovo. Today, it’s become a sanctuary for Pristina’s youth and a vibrant cultural venue fuelling the capital’s creative renaissance. Self-defined as a platform for music, literature, film, and coffee lovers, Dit’ e Nat’ is the perfect place to take a break from exploring the city’s eclectic architecture, stock up on Balkan literature titles, and experience first-hand what it is like to be young in Pristina.

The interiors strike a warm balance between a stylish London coffee shop and a kitsch Balkan living room. Combining red brick and dark wooden tones, Dit’ e Nat’s intimate round tables are surrounded by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, Albanian-language posters, old vinyls, and even a harpsichord. Order a Turkish-style coffee and browse through a book of contemporary Kosovar street photography under the dozens of hanging plants in their back patio. If you’re looking to grab a quick lunch, their vegetarian kitchen serves modern Kosovar delicacies, such as pasta with beetroot pesto sauce or Tirana-style loukoumades fried dough balls with honey.

Dit’ e Nat’ also regularly sponsors and support writers, musicians, and filmmakers from the region. Check out the latest album of Balkan-inspired jazz band Om Quartet, or Kosoveira, a documentary about an exchange project blending Brazilian Capoeira with traditional Kosovar music. Frequented by Kosovo’s most famous artists, the cafe’s true star is its resident cat, Lule. You’ll find them dozing in the back garden, hiding between the books, or shamelessly lying across the bar.

The venue’s name, meaning “day and night”, says it all. Come for the Balkan breakfast with burek and ajvar, stay for the coffee, and lose any notion of time with glasses of homemade rakia during a Kosovar jazz gig in the evening.

What not to miss:

— If brutalism with an Islamic twist is your architectural style of choice, the nearby National Library of Kosovo is a must. Designed by Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjaković, the library comprises of large concrete blocks, each topped with one of 99 white domes of varying sizes. The eccentric design of the library has long been a matter of contention, especially for Serbian officials, who say that the white domes are reminiscent of the plisi, the national Albanian hat. This unusual library truly is an architectural Marmite issue: you either love it or hate it.

— Wander around the city centre and admire Pristina’s NEWBORN independence monument. Inaugurated in 2008, the letters are redesigned every 17 February to mark the country’s independence and reflect the contemporary problems facing the nation. In 2016, for example, the letters were covered in paint simulating barbed wire — a statement about the difficulty Kosovars have getting visas to enter much of the rest of Europe. A very important symbol for the country, it also features in one of Rita Ora’s music videos, where the Kosovar-British artist appears dancing on the monument.

Text: Lucía González Mantecón
Images: Courtesy of Dit’ e Nat’

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