Sarajevo is the captial city of Bosnia and Herzegovina and it quickly became a favourite city for me. I loved every moment in this fascinating city. There is so much to see and do – highlights are Old Town, the Tunnel of Hope, the old Olympic Park, learn the meaning of the Sarajevo Roses and experience two different cultures co-existing the way we should.
My favourite activity each day was to shop on the way home in the market in the Old Town – bakeries, veggie and fruit stands, wine, family run stores – it’s a relaxing way to shop. I was always on the lookout for fresh figs!
One of the first things I experienced was the Latin Bridge. The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria happened on this bridge on June 28, 1914. The assassination led directly to the First World War when Austria-Hungary subsequently issued an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, which was partially rejected. Austria-Hungary then declared war, triggering actions leading to war between most European states.
Dating back to 1541, the Latin Bridge spans the river Miljacka and is made of stone.
Museum of Sarajevo
The Museum of Sarajevo is at the end of the Latin Bridge and contains many items representing a chronological history of Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of the items is a replica of the gun used by Gavrilo Princip from the street corner outside when he assassinated Franz Ferdinand.
Meeting of Cultures
There is a marker on Ferhadija Street where 2 cultures that shaped Sarajevo meet. It connects East and West – with the East considered Ottoman and Islamic and the West considered Austro-Hungarian and Christian. Crossing the marker is literally stepping into another culture. Fascinating!
Baščaršija (Sarajevo Old Town)
The historical and cultural center of Sarajevo, Baščaršija was built in the 15th century. Throughout the Old Town are covered bazaars, delicious local food, friendly people, churches, mosques and my fav, ice cream.
The Sebilj is a wooden fountain from 1753 and a symbol of Sarajevo!
Old Clock Tower (Sahat-Kula)
The Old Clock Tower was built in the 16th century. It needs to be set once a week and displays the lunar time. The new day begins at sunset and time is shown as 12:00.
Located in the main square, Baščaršija was built prior to 1528.
Gazi Husrev Bey’s Mosque
Gazi Husrev Bey’s Mosque is in the center of Baščaršija and was built in 1530.
Outside of the mosque is a water fountain with a legend that if you drink water from this fountain, you will return to Sarajevo. I drank the water! People provided money for these types of fountains to provide water for thirsty people and to earn spiritual merit for doing a good deed.
Gazi Husrev Bey’s Bezistan is a covered bazaar located next to the mosque.
Vječna Vatra (Eternal Flame)
The Eternal Flame is dedicated to all the military and civilian victims of World War 2.
Sarajevo Roses are the concrete scars caused by a mortar shell’s explosion that was later filled with red resin. These Roses of Death represent spots where at least 3 people were killed. There are a lot throughout Sarajevo.
Žuta Tabija (Yellow Bastion or Yellow Fortress)
Built between 1727 and 1739, the Yellow Bastion is a defence point in the city. There are fabulous views of Sarajevo from this vantage point. You’re able to sit, relax, picnic and soak up the view.
Sniper Alley was the name given to Zmaja od Bosne Street and Meša Selimović Boulevard. Connecting the industrial part of the city and the Sarajevo Airport to the Old Town’s cultural and historic sites, this alley was lined with snipers. Surrounding mountains also provided excellent vantage points for snipers. Snipers wounded 1,030 people and killed 225 – 60 of whom were children.
Vrbanja Bridge (Suada and Olga Bridge)
Admira Ismić (Bosnian Muslim) and Boško Brkić (Serbian Orthodox) were called the Romeo and Juliet of Sarajevo. They were killed by snipers on 19 May 1993 trying to cross this bridge, Vrbanja bridge. Their bodies lay where they died for 8 days due to the gunfire.
The bridge is also called the Suada and Olga Bridge after the first 2 victims of the siege, Suada Dilberović and Olga Sučić.
Tunnel of Hope
The Tunnel of Hope linked the Sarajevo neighbourhoods of Dobrinja and Butmir. Food, supplies and humanitarian aid was brought in and people got out via this tunnel. Serbian forces had the city cut off and the UN controlled the airport.
These pictures are from the Butmir side. The Kolar family’s cellar was the tunnel entrance and where the museum is today.
During the war, reporters stayed at and reported from the Holiday Inn in Sarajevo and used to hide in the bathtubs. I can remember seeing this on the news. Today, it is part of the Hotel Europe.
(Note – I got this old picture off of the Internet)
Olympic Bobsled Park
The 1984 Winter Olympics were hosted by Sarajevo in what was Yugoslavia at the time. During these games, Yugloslavia won it’s first ever medal. Much was destroyed during the Bosnian war. The Bobsled / Luge Track is covered in graffiti and the curves in the track are a lot higher than they seem on TV. It was interesting to see.
During the Siege of Sarajevo, people were buried throughout the city, in parks, in the football field, wherever there was some free space. These markers are in the park and people relax and picnic around them. The cemeteries contain graves of people from different faiths. There isn’t a Muslin cemetery or a Catholic cemetery. They are together.
The Mother and Child War Memorial is for the children killed during the war. The statue represents a mother holding her child.
I am not a fan of squat toilets and I’m stunned this didn’t happen to me sooner and that it’s happened only once (so far). It was bound to happen to me at some point. I used to have beautiful Fendi prescription sunglasses. My sunglasses are either on my face or on the top of my head. During the sequence of events of squatting and bending over a bit my sunglasses slid off the top of my head and I watched them in slow motion fall down into the hole. Needless to say, there wasn’t a chance in hell I was reaching down into that hole to retrieve them.
I bought new sunglasses at the next Duty Free.
Every day I walked through Old Town and noticed a lady doing henna tattoos. I’d never had one before and finally got one!
Check out @hennaartistsejla on Instagram – she’s amazing! Fabulous conversation and an awesome tattoo.
Where I Stayed!
I had the cutest little apartment all to myself near Sarajevo Old Town! It was perfect. The best part was having a washer. It’s divine to wear clothes that weren’t hand washed by me in a sink. I woke up in the mornings listening to the call to prayer and church bells – sometimes both at the same time. It was soothing.
Random Scenes of Sarajevo
Read more on my adventures in Bosnia and Herzegovina:
Check out Sarajevo! You won’t be disappointed.
Happy Travels 💕
🌏 🍷 👠
Jackie is “Mom” to one amazing son, an IT professional and an obsessed traveller. She spends her time reading, golfing at Ladies League and implementing software projects. Jackie has travelled to all 7 continents and 90 countries and is always planning the next destination and adventure!