Sarajevo has an enormous religious diversity. The city has an orthodox church, a catholic church, a mosque and a synagogue in just about 200 metres. Sarajevo has Austrian Hungarian buildings, grey socialist buildings, and an ottoman bazaar full of small shops and lively coffee shops.
Sarajevo has been in the headlines of the news in the last 100 years mainly because of three facts:
- The murder of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by Gavrilo Princip in 1914, which was the trigger of the outbreak of the First World War.
- Winter Olympic Games in 1984.
- Balkans War, where Sarajevo suffered of three long years of siege that destroyed the city and caused a big number of victims. Actually, you can still see some bullets and other weapon impacts on the walls of some houses.
WHAT TO SEE IN SARAJEVO
The word “Baš-èaršija” means “main marketplace”. It was built in the middle of XV century by Isa-beg Ishakovic. Baščaršija is one of the main touristic attractions in Sarajevo, and is considered the historical and cultural centre of Sarajevo. It is a maze of cobbled streets in the old Turkish neighbourhood full of small souvenir shops, jewelry shops, handicraft shops, restaurants of ottoman and Bosnian cuisine, mosques, fountains and terraces where you can enjoy a Turkish tea or a Bosnian coffee.
Sebilj Fountain in Baščaršija
This Fountain is in the old town centre and is always surrounded by pigeons. It was built in 1753 by a Bosnian vizier Mehmed-pasa Kukavica and destroyed in 1891 and rebuilt again in 1913. The name from the Arabic word that means “public fountain with the shape of a kiosk”.
The Coppersmith Street
One of the oldest streets in Bascarsija is Kazandziluk Street which means Coppersmith Street. It is filled with beautiful copper goods such as coffee pots called dzeva.
Old City Hall, Vijecnica
The City Hall was constructed in 1892-1894 in a pseudo-Moorish style, and reconverted in National Library towards the end of the Second World War. On the 25th August 1992, a projectile was launched by the Serbian forces that besieged Sarajevo, which ended up with a big part of the Bosnian literature that was conserved in this building. Around 2 million volumes and over 155,000 manuscripts and many books of an incalculable value were destroyed. It is the most representative building from the Austro-Hungarian period in Sarajevo. Nowadays is open to the public for a small entry fee.
Small stone bridge constructed on the XVI century, from where Gavrilo Princip (a 18 year old Bosnian Serb) assassinated the heir of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia on the 28th June 1914, which caused the beginning of the First World War. The murder is marked with a stone plaque outside the Museum of Sarajevo (Musej Sarajeva). A memorial to Gavrilo Princip (his footprints carved in stone) used to be here but it was removed during the 1992-1995 War.
The Academy of Fine Arts
This beautiful building supposed to serve as an Evangelical Church, but it has been the Academy of Fine Arts since 1981.
Ali Pasha’s Mosque (Alipašina džamija)
This is one of the most beautiful cupolaed mosques, which was built in 1561 beside the tomb of the founder of Bosnian governor of the Sandjak province Ali-pasha. He died in Sarajevo in 1557, and just before dying, he dictated his testament ordering a mosque to be built next to his tomb with the funds from his foundation.
Gazi Husrev Bey’s Mosque
Gazi Husrev Bey´s Mosque is the most important Muslim praying centre in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was constructed in 1531 by Mimar Sinan (this is the same architect of the amazing Suleymaniye Camii Mosque in Istanbul) and donated to the city by the one who was the Bosnian ottoman governor at those times. It has two minarets of 45 metres height, a 26 metres dome, and in its gardens there is a remarkable wood fountain of ablution. This was the first mosque in the world to receive electricity. Like other cultural attractions in Bosnia, the mosque was a target by Serbian snipers during the siege of Sarajevo. Although it was heavily damaged, it was reconstructed after the end of the war with foreign hep.
Gazi Husrev-begov Bezistan
This stone-building was built in 1555 and is a covered market in a rectangular shape. It is 109 metres long and it has entrances on either side and in the middle. It is full of small shops that sell souvenirs, jewelry, accessories and clothes. The design is based on the design of the mosques.
The Cathedral of Jesus’ Sacred Heart
It was built in 1889 according to the design of Josip Vancaš and is the seat of the Archdiocese of Vrhbosna. He combined elements of Romanesque and Gothic style.
The Old Orthodox Church
This Serbian Orthodox Church is dedicated to Archangels Michael and Gabriel and it is one of Sarajevo’s oldest houses of worship.
The Orthodox Cathedral
It was built in 1868 in the new baroque style with elements of the Serb Byzantine architecture and it is dedicated to the Holy Virgin.
Building of the ottoman area, nowadays is the Hotel Sarajevo Inn. In its restaurant you can enjoy prints of the Umer Khayam period.
Eternal Flame – Vjecna Vatra, this is a memorial to the civilian and military victims of the Second World War.
Located in the centre of the city, the Bulevar Mese Selimovica was occupied by Serbian snipers who caused hundreds of victims among the civilians in the Balkans War. This place was strategic because it was surrounded by high buildings and close to the mountains.
They can be considered as a symbol of the past, the present and the future of the city. These red marks on the ground serve as a reminder of what the people of Sarajevo suffered. The ones that can be seen nowadays are the ones that took the life of at least three people, its footprints have been filled with red resin.
Avaz Twist Tower
The Avaz Twist Tower is a 176 m tall skyscraper with a blue glass facade with offers stunning panoramic views of the city. Afterwards, you can enjoy a coffee or a beer in the café-bar just below the top. This is a good place to watch the sunset on Sarajevo.
Zuta Tabija Fortress (Yellow Fortress)
See the sunset at the Zuta Tabija Fortress (Yellow Fortress) in Sarajevo. You can walk there by going past the war cemetery near the Sebilj fountain, or you can take a taxi. Taxi should be around 3-5km. The hike up is quite steep but the views are really worth it.
Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum
This passage was the key of the survival of the citizens during the Siege of Sarajevo. It was constructed in a private home cellar in about 6 months in 1992 underneath the airport, and it was the only connection with the world during the 4 years.
The tunnel was linking the besieged city with the free area further away from the airport. Through the tunnel, they passed food, war supplies, humanitarian aid, pipes with fuel, etc. Nowadays, 20 metres of the original 800 metres can be visited.
There are two bus stations in Sarajevo, the Autobusna Stanica “main bus station” located next to the train station in the Bosnia and Herzegovina side (west of Sarajevo) and the Autobuska stanica Istočno Sarajevo,”Lukavica” station (Sarajevo East) which is close to the airport about 15 km far from the city, in the Serbian side of the Srpska Republika.
Bear in mind that if you are arriving by bus from Montenegro, from a Serbian city or from a Bosnian city which belongs to the Srpska Republic (Serbian part of Bosnia), the bus will arrive to Lukavika, not to the central station. This division was caused because in order to retire the Serbian army, Milosevic negotiated that Bosnia should be split in two; on the one side the Bosnia and Herzegovina Federation (inhabited by Bosnians and Croatians, 51% of the territory), and on the other side the Srpska Republika (inhabited by Serbians and which reflects the 49% of the country’s territory). This frontier divides Sarajevo in two, and that is the reason why Sarajevo has two bus stations.
The train station is near the main bus station, which is in walking distance to the historic old centre. Tram number 1 will take you to the old centre; the frequency is every 10-15 minutes.
– Buregdzinica Bosna, Bravadziluk, Old Town, +38733538426. Restaurant specialised in Bureks (pastry dough filled with beef). Options: sirnica (cheese), zeljanica (spinach and cheese) or krompiruša (potato).
-Cevabdzinica Željo 1 and 2. Kundurdžiluk 12 (+387) 33 44 70 00. Željo does some of the best čevačiči in Bosnia. Sarajevo ‘čevapčiči’ are small, immensely tasty grilled spicy sausages, served with spiced flat bread called somun and a creamy cheese called kajmak. Traditionally they are accompanied by a glass of yoghourt.
– Zlatna Ribica – Bar, Kaptol 5, Bascarsija, Vječna vatra.
-Cajdzinica Dzirlo – Tea House, Street Kovaci Cilcma 6, +38762755866.
– Caffe Tito. If you like a bit of history with your brew, head to Caffe Tito (Zmaja od Bosne 5). This coffee shop is dedicated to hot beverages and the late benevolent dictator of the former Yugoslavia, Josip Tito. Located down a small side street, it’s hard to find but worth the effort.
– Try some Rakia. Rakia (or fruit brandy) is considered the national drink in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
– Miris Dunja café, Cizmedziluk 9, is tucked away in a small street just before the Gazi Mosque.
– Baklava Shop, Curciluk Veliki 56. This little Ottoman style cafe specialises in Baklava. Baklava is a rich sweet pastry made of layers of filo-pastry filled with chopped nuts.
– If you want to try some local freshly brewed beers, head to Pivnica HS. It is located roughly a block outside the Old Town and next door to Sarajevskaya Brewery.