The saddest thing I've seen here? The Yugoslav-era Memorial of Brotherhood and Unity. It's a 15-meter concrete pillar. Three pillars, really, a few feet apart at the base and joining together at the top. There's an abstract sculpture in fron, vaguely resembling a group of people. (The design is eerily similar to the Martyr's Memorial in central Bucharest, across from the Hilton. Go figure.) The triple pillar symbolizes the three peoples of Kosovo -- Albanians, Turks and Serbs. It stands in the middle of a big empty plaza, on a pavement of marble slabs, in the very center of Pristina.
"Brotherhood and Unity" was an old Yugoslav Communist slogan, and it was used for everything from roads to summer camps. The main bridge going west from Belgrade (towards Bosnia and Croatia) was the Brotherhood and Unity Bridge; last time I looked, it still was. So, the B&U Memorial was meant to symbolize the enduring friendship between the peoples of Kosovo, /and/ their place in the greater Yugoslav society -- a united family of peoples. The three pillars, rising, aspiring, joining together... ...someone surrounded it with barbed wire a while back. Probably the UN. Maybe they were afraid someone would vandalize it? But it's really hard to vandalize a concrete pillar. So, the barbed wire has rusted and collapsed. The marble slabs of the plaza are cracked and stained, but if you walk carefully over them you can reach the base of the pillar. There's nothing there. I mean, it's just a pillar. The concrete is starting to crack. There's a big weeping brown stain on one side about halfway up, probably where the rebar skeleton is starting to rust through. The abstract sculpture in front is covered with grafitti, but there's hardly any on the pillar itself. I really don't think it's lingering sentiment. More like, nobody even cares enough about this thing to vandalize it. Kosovo is full of sad stories. But that pillar, monument to the failed ideal of a dead country, standing there unlit, and ignored while the snow fell out of the dirty sky... it just seemed unutterably sad. A couple of hundred meters to the south is a much newer statue. It's Skanderbeg, the Albanian national hero. Now, /that/ statue is in prime condition. It's a beautiful piece, and beautifully displayed. Clean and shining. Spotlights all around. This place can get to you, yes.