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Brezovica – Kosovo’s rugged beauty

Kosovo is a landlocked country, but luckily so, with a diverse landscape. On the southern tip of the country lies Brezovica, a beautiful ski village that attracts thousands of visitors

Shpresa Rifati’s cheeks are all red as she is walking in her winter gear on the snowy road in southern Kosovo’s Brezovica. The actual ski resort and ski lifts are about 8 km further away but throngs of tourists are exiting dozens of busses stuck on the road due to heavy snow falls. It’s chaos out here and many teenagers seem genuinely thrilled with over a meter of snow that has engulfed much of the landscape.

The popularity of the ski resort is easily explained with the fact that it’s the only proper one in all of Kosovo, but one can imagine that the place can be much more profitable and maintained with a proper facelift. Brezovica ski resort is a popular destination for ski and board fans but the chaos with the transport and the lack of road maintenance only serve to highlight the need for investment.

New York Times called Brezovica “a rugged natural beauty, powdery snow and Olympiclevel ski runs that attracted the likes of the former Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito.” Kosovo is a small country in South East Europe. It has less than 2 million inhabitants according to EU sponsored census. They live in around 10,000 sq km, hence it’s rather densely populated, little country. Most of the people live in the cities though, with Prishtina - the capital city.

Rapidly becoming a bustling, if somewhat gritty, urban centre. For some reason, Prishtina is also popular with hip=hop stars so 50 Cent, Snoop Dog, Busta Rhymes, Wu Tang Clan, The Game and many others have all performed in the packed stadiums of dilapidated city. Well, far away from this intriguing and counterintuitive city, we have beautiful Sharr mountains, mostly shared between neighbouring, cumbersomely called, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo. These are beautiful rugged mountains with long winter seasons.

 On Kosovo’s side, one can visit Brezovica, a tiny village close to a small city of (multi-consonental) Strpce. While north of Kosovo gets all the media attention due to ongoing unrest, this specific region of Kosovo is rather more pragmatic.
Majority consists of ethnic Serbs, but they have completely integrated into the independent, Kosovan authorities by participating in the local elections. “I want to make a living and keep my family and for this we are dependent from the weekend tourists from Prishtina.

‘’ The boys and girls from there are my main costumers” – says Jovan, the Serbian owner of a small restaurant. He also claims he sells up to hundred letters of rakija [a local brandy] to tourists every week. Marko Simeonis is a private ski instructor. He is actually from Serbia but he has come here to check out the slopes which he calls “legendary”, and maybe find a job opportunity. He says he is thrilled with the landscape and skiing but less so with the employment opportunities. Kosovo is a landlocked country, but luckily so, with a diverse landscape.

On the southern tip of the country lies Brezovica, a beautiful ski village that attracts thousands of visitors Brezovica – Kosovo’s rugged beauty Feature of the month The peak of Brezovica resort in souther Kosovo reaches 2,500 metres. foto ermal meta VALDET SADIKU / Ambassador, Sweden Gjeneza Budima / FIRST SECRETARY, USA continued on page 6