Sarajevo is the capital and most populous city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is one of the most preferred destinations for tourists on Balkan tours. The reason why it is called the Jerusalem of Europe is that many religions can live in peace. You can see places of worship of different religions in many parts of the city.
- Where does Sarajevo’s name come from?
- What is the currency of Sarajevo?
- Yellow Bastion
- Kovachi Martyrdom
- Bashi Bazaar
- Meeting Point of Cultures
- Museum of the Jews of Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Museum of Crimes against Humanity and Genocide
- Cathedral of the Heart of Jesus
- Gallery 11/07/95
- Unquenchable Fire Monument
- Latin Bridge
- Sarajevo National Library
- House of Stubbornness
- What to eat in Sarajevo?
- Where to stay in Sarajevo?
- A short short about Sarajevo…
- What are the places to visit around Sarajevo?
- Where is Sarajevo? How to get there?
Sarajevo is different from other Balkan cities. Many important events took place in Sarajevo, which first became the largest city in Europe under the Ottoman rule in the 15th century. During the Ottoman Empire, it was used as an administrative and commercial center due to its location on a transit route.
Towards the end of the 19th century, it was left under the rule of Austria-Hungary and then ruled by Vienna. One of the sparks of World War 1 was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Crown Prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. The fact that Serbia provided the weapon that killed the Archduke angered Austria and Austria – Hungary declared war against Serbia, starting World War I.
During the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which wanted to secede from Yugoslavia for economic reasons, various nationalist reasons, Slovenian, Croatian and Macedonian independence, also declared its independence, but the Serbs did not recognize this state and started the Bosnian War, which lasted for 3 years between 1992 and 1995. Bosniaks suffered tens of thousands of casualties during this war.
During the war, people could not walk in the streets and open spaces, could not find food and water, could not heal due to lack of medicine, and even those who were affected by bombs and bullets were operated on while they were awake due to lack of medicine. When we look at the old footage, they have to run constantly to avoid being targeted by snipers and tanks.
You can hear the sound of bullets and bombs in the background during the filming. It is still possible to see the traces of these attacks by the Serbs in Sarajevo today. There are still traces of the war on the buildings. Unplastered, uncovered bullet holes are everywhere. One of the effects of the Bosnian War is that people are unemployed and cannot find a job. More than half of Sarajevans are unemployed.
Where does Sarajevo’s name come from?
The name of Sarajevo was known as Vrhbosna until the Ottoman Empire. The current Bosnian name Sarajevo consists of two words. It was formed by the combination of the word saraj meaning palace and evo meaning plain. Sarajevo has formed the name Sarajevo, which means Palace Plain or Palace of Bosnia.
What is the currency of Sarajevo?
The currency in Bosnia and Herzegovina is internationally known as BAM (Bosnia and Herzegovina Mark), but locals use KM (Convertible Mark). When you arrive at Sarajevo Airport, only exchange as much money as you need at the currency exchange branches. They convert it much lower than normal. Or you can withdraw the amount of money you need from the bank with your ATM card without incurring any loss. you can come across currency exchange branches in the city.
Since these exchange offices may close at late hours, you can choose places where you can make your payments by credit card. It makes sense to make payments by credit card. Because your credit card statement will reflect the required exchange rate. Of course, in this case, choose places that accept credit cards, and if necessary, even ask in advance if you can pay by credit card.
Sarı Kale (Sarı Tabya) is one of the best places to get a panoramic view of the city and witness the sunsets. It is both romantic and extremely photogenic. Sarı Kale is actually part of the city walls protecting the city. Even though there is a cafe on it, you can enter and visit it for free.
If you go during Ramadan at iftar time, you can also see people watching the cannon fire. If you are coming by car, you can leave it in any suitable area around it. If you don’t have a car and have time, it is close enough to walk from the Bazaar.
Koçiva Martyrdom, which is included in the view of Sarı Kale and where the grave of Aliya İzzetbegovic, the 1st President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is located, is just below. Aliya Izzetbegovic, who spent his life so that humanity would not die, lived in prisons for this cause and always gave hope to Bosnia, lies here, along with dozens of martyrs around him.
Since the separation of Bosnia and Herzegovina from Yugoslavia caused a massacre, you will see white marble tombstones, mass graves and martyrs’ cemeteries all over the city. So many people lost their lives that even parks had to be used as cemeteries.
One of the most popular sightseeing destinations in Sarajevo is the Bazaar, where Gazi Husrev Pasha had many buildings built during the Ottoman period. Sebil, Coppersmith Bazaar/Kazancılar Street, Kurşunlu Madrasah, Gazi Hüsrev Bey Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the Balkans, inns, baths and bezistan are among the historical buildings you can see and visit in this bazaar. For a list of historical and touristic places in Bashi Bazaar, visit the Bashi Bazaar page.
Meeting Point of Cultures
After passing the Bazaar, we continue our tour on Ferhadiye Street. Ferhadiye Street is also located in the bazaar and is closed to vehicle traffic.
One side of the street is the west of Europe and the other side is the east. You can see this difference when you come to the representative line in the middle of the street called the Meeting Point of Cultures, which is indicated by two arrows pointing in different directions, and where you look in line with the arrows. From this line, all the buildings are differentiated. One side is dominated by Ottoman architecture with mosques, minarets, inns, bazaars, while the other side is decorated with Austro – Hungarian architecture.
Museum of the Jews of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Let’s leave the Meeting Point of Cultures to the north for a short while and you will see a synagogue building there. This synagogue, built in the 16th century in Bosnia and Herzegovina, exhibits the achievements of the Jews since their arrival in Sarajevo in a historical way. It is a museum where items that are especially important for Jews, stories of citizens of Jewish origin, documents, photographs, maps, paintings and items belonging to them are exhibited, and the genocide is not ignored.
Museum of Crimes against Humanity and Genocide
When we continue on Ferhadije Street, after a few streets on the left side, before reaching the cathedral, we enter the Museum of Crimes against Humanity and Genocide. We can see the painful face of the Bosnian war that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995.
Cathedral of the Heart of Jesus
Sacred Heart Cathedral, one of the places to visit in Sarajevo, is also located on Ferhadiye Street. The architecture is inspired by Notre Dame Cathedral. The interior is standard, the exterior is spectacular. However, you should definitely see the Sarajevo Rose in front of it. The big round is the spots where mortar shells exploded and left traces, and the small leaf-like shapes around it are the damage caused by shrapnel. The combination of these shapes resembles a rose, hence the name Sarajevo Roses.
Right next door to the Heart of Jesus Cathedral building you can see Galerija 11/07/93, the first memorial gallery organized to keep alive the memories of over 8000 people who lost their lives in the Srebrenica genocide. The names of the people who lost their lives, photographs of them with their families while they were alive, and photographs of skeletons recovered from mass graves that could not be collected are exhibited in black and white.
Bosnian photographer Tariq Samarah immortalized this horrific story of Bosniak Muslim civilians and these photographs are on permanent display in Sarajevo. The gallery is open for a fee and you can listen to the stories of the photographs in many languages with a guide device.
Unquenchable Fire Monument
Further down the street, at the intersection of Ferhadija Street and Marshal Tito Street, you will see a monument dedicated to the liberation of the city from Nazi occupation after World War II, in memory of the Bosnians who lost their lives.
A little further into the city, along the riverside, is the Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These are the museums you should visit to better understand the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Latin Bridge, one of the architectural landmarks of the city, is a historical bridge over the Milijacka River. The start of World War 1, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife by Gavrilo Princip, took place on this bridge.
The horse square just across the Latin Bridge is a green area close to the center of Sarajevo. Since horse trade used to take place here in the past, it was called Horse Square. Now there are benches and a green area. You can rest here for part of your trip.
Sarajevo National Library
The war-torn national library, where many books were burnt to ashes, has also undergone extensive restoration. It used to be the city hall. This architectural structure located by the river is a must-see. Although it does not have as extensive historical books as before, it has a historical importance for the Bosniak people.
House of Stubbornness
This house, named Stubborn because of the stubbornness of its owner, is a stand against the Austro-Hungarian Emperor who wanted to build several buildings on the banks of the Milijacka River. The owner of the house, Benderija, after much resistance to Benderija and the builders, made only one request for the house to be demolished so that new buildings could be constructed. He agreed in exchange for a substantial payment to build the same house on the opposite bank. As a result, this house was built on the opposite bank of the river, opposite the City Hall, and today it is used as a restaurant.
This is the center of Sarajevo. But these are not the only things to do in Sarajevo. As you can see on the map, the last point of the central tour is a cable car ride. Mount Trebevic, which you can climb either by cable car or on foot, and the Bobsleigh Track, which was built when Bosnia and Herzegovina hosted the Olympics but became idle after the war, are also among the places to visit. Click for Trebevic Mountain and Cable Car blog post.
If you have a car or if you have time, you should definitely see the Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope near Sarajevo International Airport before you leave Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is very important because it is the tunnel that saved the lives of thousands of Sarajevo people who were under the Serbian siege and could not take a step. We rented a car from the airport and at the end of our Balkan trip, we stopped here without returning the car.
What to eat in Sarajevo?
Burek and cevabi, which is similar to Tekirdag meatballs with about 10 meatballs in 1 serving, are famous in Bosniak lands. Food and beverage prices are not high, cheaper than the prices in Turkey. If you are a vegetarian, you may find it difficult to find something suitable for you in their meat-heavy culture. In this case, you can stick to minced meatless pastries or bean-style foods that you can find in some restaurants. Consider local appetizers such as ajvar. The Bashi Bazaar is the place with the most variety of places to eat.
Where to stay in Sarajevo?
We stayed at Guest House Dzemo for 1 night. Cemal and his mother, the owners of the house, are very friendly and reliable. They told us several times that they wanted to make us coffee but we never had the chance to drink it. The rooms are ideal, very clean. Shared bathroom, shared kitchen. They have opened the upper floor of the two-story house for visitors. The upper floor has two or three rooms. The wooden floors creak a lot 🙂 It is 10 minutes walking distance to the city center, the square where the fountain is. There is no parking problem for those who go by car.
A short short about Sarajevo…
- Sarajevo has a very low crime rate, especially against tourists. It is also very suitable for traveling alone.
- You need to be careful in summer. If you are a person who does not like heat, you should know that it is hot during the day. This does not mean that the evenings will also be hot. It can be cool in the evenings in Balkan countries, a thin cover like a shawl can protect you from the breeze while walking on the streets or sitting outdoors.
- Since the center of Sarajevo is small, it is possible to get around the city without using public transportation. You can choose tours to reach a few points far from the city center or you can go by private car if you rented a car in our entrance.
- Joining walking tours in Sarajevo is one of the ways to visit the city with its narratives and history. You can find walking tours every day before and after noon. Be sure to join if you have time. Some of the narrators are people who were there during the war.
What are the places to visit around Sarajevo?
There are many places to visit around Sarajevo. If you have not rented a car, you can also choose tours around Sarajevo. Mostar Bridge, Blagaj Dervish Tekke, Kravice Waterfalls are among the places you should definitely see.
Where is Sarajevo? How to get there?
Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is very close to the border with Serbia. The first point of our Balkan tour was Sarajevo.