Among all majestic cities in Europe, there is one hidden between mountains in the middle of the Balkan. It is Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This country used to be part of Yugoslavia until the 90s happened. But now we’ll leave history behind us. Let’s talk about this beautiful city. It is still not so popular among tourists so it is possible to feel the real everyday life of Sarajevans.
A city that we know today was founded in the 1940s during Ottoman Empire. Baščaršija is the old part of the Sarajevo. Small shops and busy narrow streets can remind you a bit of Istanbul. When you walk through Sarači, the main street on Baščaršija, you’ll see a beautiful mosque Begova džamija built in 1530. Everyday Muslims go there to pray five times, so it is certain that you’ll hear a call for prayers which is a really amazing experience. Water is excellent in Sarajevo so you should try some on the fountain in front of the mosque, and as legend says, you’ll definitely come back. I think I drank it so many times and that is the reason why I just can’t see myself living in any other city for my entire life.
This part of the city is the best place to eat some traditional food. On almost every corner there is a restaurant with ćevapi – minced meat served in special kind of homemade bread and onion; or restaurant with salty pie, the most popular one is burek also with minced meat. If you’re vegetarian you’ll love spinach or cheese pie and even vegans can try one with potato. Food in places like this is still very cheap so you’re about to send less than 10 marks (5 euros) per meal.
‘Golden Street and Sweet Corner’
When you continue your walk toward the modern part of the city, you’ll suddenly cross an imaginary line and find yourself in Austro-Hungarian part of the city. This imaginary line is actually street Gazi-Husrev begova but no one in Sarajevo calls it like that. We call it Zlatarska ulica (Golden Street). It is full of small shops with handmade golden and silver jewelry. Even Angelina Jolie bought earrings that are made as a replica of ancient Bosnian jewelry. The real pieces are exhibited in National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina that is about a half hour of walking from the Golden Street. In the middle of this street, where Sarači ends and Ferhadija begins, are sweet shops and cafés so this part we call Slatko Ćoše (Sweet Corner).
Now continue walking through Ferhadija Street. Architecture is beautiful. Just a few meters from Ferhadija mosque there is Cathedral of Sacred Heart with the modern monument o f Pope John Paul II. This city is a complex mix of religions so don’t be surprised to see the Cathedral Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos. Everything is close and together in this city.
‘Street dedicated to marshal Tito, president of Yugoslavia’
Street Ferhadija ends with Eternal flame, the memorial to the victims of the Second World War . It was established in 1946 for the first anniversary of the liberation of Sarajevo from the occupation by Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last occupation of the Sarajevo, but we’ll talk about that some other time. Now you’re entering Maršala Tita Street dedicated to the first president of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This is the point where pedestrian zone ends. Now you’re on a big busy street with a modern mix of old and new architecture. Some buildings are built in recognizable socialist architecture. Olomanka is one of them. Now it is a nice restaurant with inside garden and it is nicely renovated to fit the modern vibe of the city.
Somewhere in the middle of the street is Great Park, the largest green area in the city centre. It is very peaceful and nice place for a small break or even picnic. What is different here is that this park used to be a cemetery. Even today everywhere around are graves and ancient tombstones but it is not spooky so don’t worry. There is a big fountain in the part. It used to be a just adorable place for enjoying in nature and view on busy life, but now it is something more. The fountain is transformed into a monument dedicated to the Children of Sarajevo who died during the siege of the city.
‘Concrete and glass of modern Sarajevo’
After a small break in the park, if you continue walking toward National and Historical museums you’ll pass next to two big buildings in Austro-Hungarian style on your left side. Those are Building of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Railways of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. What is interesting about our politic is that it is so complex and one of kind in the whole world. In the Building of the Presidency, we actually have three presidents in the same time; each one represents one of the major nations that live in the country – Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croatians. We’re definitely the only country in the world with a system like this…
Just continue walking straight and soon you’ll be next to the huge modern glass building Sarajevo City Centre. It is a shopping centre with popular brands like Zara, Bershka, Adidas, Levis and some others. It was open in 2014 and people were divided in opinions, some love it and some hate it. It is definitely a huge amount of concrete and glass.
Last stop for this day should be museums we already mentioned. National museum has permanent exhibitions about Birds of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rocks and ores, Forests of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Invertebrates and Sarajevo Haggadah. Museum was closed for three years because the government couldn’t find the way to finance it. Now it is open again and it will continue to fight bureaucracy fights with our politicians.
The Historical museum is few meter away. In an interesting modern building that was destroyed during the war and still not fully renovated is situated permanent exhibition called Sarajevo under Siege. It is a story about the life of the ordinary people during the siege from 1992 to 1995.
We walked today trough small part of the Sarajevo. This is just a straight line in exploring this city. Don’t forget to wander around streets and hidden places in this amazing and important city that catches everyone’s hearts.