With breathtaking mountainous surroundings, Sarajevo is an evocative city that reminds its many visitors of its heavy Ottoman influence. It was most notably known to be home to members of all three major religions, which is why it earned the title of ‘Jerusalem of Europe’. Visitors can find mosques, churches and synagogues all within close reach of one another which portrays the religious tolerance of the former centuries.
With Sarajevo being the prospering capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was undeniably at the centre of bloody affairs. From the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and a civil war that lasted four years in the 1990s, the city has seen its fair share of horrific events. But, even though the scars of Sarajevo’s violent past may still echo throughout the city, today it has become a popular tourist destination home to splendid architecture, a thriving old town and the region’s most kind-hearted locals.
Whether it’s visiting the magnificent mosques, awakening your taste buds with mouthwatering food, or simply gazing out at the splendid views, there’s rarely a moment of boredom when in Sarajevo.
To kindle your inspiration, here’s a list of five of the best things to do in Sarajevo:
Find Peace in the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque
Constructed in the year 1532, the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque – funded by Ottoman governor Gazi Husrev-beg – is at the heart of all mosques in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Being the largest mosque in the country, it lures visitors into its enchanting prayer hall thanks to its splendid Ottoman architecture. Equipped with a spacious courtyard where children roam freely and many engage in leisurely conversations, the mosque also features several imposing domes, a wonderful fountain and a tomb of its founder, all of which represent Ottoman architecture very well.
Take a Stroll in the 15th Century Baščaršija (Old Town)
The Old Town of Sarajevo is where all the action takes place, which is why it is the heart of the city! With architecture dating back to the 15th century, much of what stood then remains today. The Old Town is home to a market as well as a bazaar and is thriving throughout the day with locals and tourists. With many great cafes, coffee shops and restaurants, the Old Town is a great place to end up once you’ve built up an appetite. To get away from the hustle and bustle, navigate your way through the narrow cobbled streets and make your way to one of the grand mosques for a moment of tranquillity.
Travel Back in Time at the Latin Bridge
Miljacka River has several crossing points and the Latin Bridge is the most remarkable of them all. Not only is this triple-arched bridge a delight for the eyes, but it also holds a story that made the bridge somewhat legendary. It was here that the 18-year-old Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg. Whilst the Latin Bridge was constructed in the 16th century, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that its significance grew. Did you know that the museum near the bridge holds a plaque which details where the Archduke and his wife were murdered?
Admire The Views From The Sarajevo Cable Cars
Closed for several decades due to the siege in the city, the famous gondolas of Sarajevo reopened in 2018. Whilst they may be a popular way of reaching the top of Mount Trebević, the place was not always associated with happy memories. Used as a vantage point for snipers, making your way to the city’s highest peak was completely off-limits. Things have changed now as Sarajevo leaves behind its traumatic memories and moves forward to a brighter future. By reopening the gondolas, tourists and locals can now take the 2km journey from the heart of the city to the imposing Mount Trebević. Here you can unwind by hiking along the many trails whilst marvelling at ancient architecture at the Čolina Kapa observatory. Alternatively, you can visit the abandoned Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track which has now been transformed with dramatic graffiti.
Kovači Memorial Cemetery
This cemetery in Sarajevo is filled with nothing but white gravestones. Home to the resting place of the many Bosniaks who were martyred while defending themselves from the Serbs, it is also the resting place of Alija Izetbegović, the first president of the country. Although many come here to commemorate the heroic efforts of the many Bosniaks, the nearby yellow fortress is also a great place to admire the views across the city.
Miguel Alcântara, unsplash