Sarajevo, BIH’s capital sits on the Miljacka River, surrounded by the Dinaric Alps. It has a long and rich history of religious and cultural diversity. And one of only a few major European cities when travelling with a camera which has a mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church and synagogue within the same neighbourhood.
The Siege of Sarajevo was the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. It lasted 1425 days from 5 April 1992 to 29 February 1996. During that time, the city was hit by an average 329 grenades a day and snipers were prolific. A total of 13,952 people were killed during the siege, including 5,434 civilians. Another complex, multifaceted, tragic war.
Cemeteries are visible all over the city hillsides. I visited the Shahid Cemetery where the first president of the independent Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegovic, who passed away on 19 October 2003 was buried. A poignant reminder that this should never happen again.
Unlike Mostar, the majority of warfare evidence has been repaired, but a few are still visible. Its intriguing historic centre has been fully restored and has many religious buildings, museums, cafes (huge coffee culture here) and bazaars with ottoman style goods. The metal industry is prolific and there are many shops selling intricate items from pots & pans to jewellery.
Vijećnica (Town Hall) can be seen from afar, an iconic landmark. This most beautiful Austro-Hungarian building was built in 1898. It reopened in 2014 after extensive reconstruction post-siege.
The Sebilj is an Ottoman-style wooden fountain in Baščaršija Square (Pigeon Square). Mehmed Pasha Kukavica built the fountain in 1753. It was then relocated by Austrian architect Alexander Wittek in 1891.
For authentic Bosnian food, ‘Sedef’ and ‘Asdz’ are highly recommended while in town. And the locally made Turkish Delight must be sampled!
The Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque or Bey’s Mosque, as it is known locally, was built in 1530. It is the largest historical mosque in BIH and one of the most representative Ottoman structures in the Balkans. The chief architect in the Ottoman Empire, Adžem Esir Ali, a Persian from Tabriz was its designer.
An absorbing city to visit.