In mid-December of 2018, I visited Sarajevo, one of the underrated but well worth a visit cities of Balkans.
3 Ethnicities and 2 Presidents
To me, the most shocking information about Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) was that they had a bicameral (with 2 separate assemblies) legislature and a three-member Presidency composed of a Bosnian, a Serbian and a Croatian leader. However, there are two autonomous entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska. It sounds complicated I know but as my travel companion, a university girl from Pec/Peja said, Bosnians and Croatians in general vote for the same president who is Croatian for the Federation part and Serbians choose a Serbian leader for Republika Srpska. Then of course there are many difficulties for the people to get any paper work done at governmental offices.
World War I – Start Point
Apart from that political system, the city itself is pretty interesting. As it writes in the downtown, it is the place where east meets west. Austro-Hungarian, Soviet, and Ottoman styles all stand together. The first thing I saw was the Latin Bridge where Gavrilo Princip killed the Archduke of Austria-Este, Franz Ferdinand and hence WW1 started. There is a museum nearby to visit and learn more.
Baščaršija – Old Bazaar/Old Town
After crossing it, you find yourself in the old town, Baščaršija. We stayed there to experience the old historical and cultural center of Sarajevo. I enjoyed getting lost while strolling through the cobbled streets with many different little shops, restaurants and cafes. There is the huge Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque in the center, together with a museum and library with the same name. City Hall or/and National Library of BiH is very close to Latin Bridge but unfortunately it doesn’t have many books as most of them were destroyed during the Siege. There is a more interesting place in the opposite of City Hall called Inat Kuca (House of Spite). At the end of the 19th century, the Austro-Hungarians decided to build the City Hall in the place of the this house but the owner did not accept any offer. After long negotiations, the stubborn old man asked the Monarchy to pay him a bag of gold coins and to move his house to the other bank of Miljacka River, brick by brick, stone by stone. They had to do whatever he said and the house remained the symbol of Bosnian spite. It has been his house and traditional restaurant since then.
The Yellow Bastion
To see one of the best sunsets and city views in Sarajevo, you should climb up the Yellow Bastion in a late afternoon. While walking up there, you’ll see a Muslim graveyard with white gravestones. There is a lovely cafe called Kamarija up the hill which offers tasty Bosnian coffee and beautiful Sarajevo view.
I visited the History Museum and Srebrenica Exhibition at Galerija. They both show the sad history of Bosnia but definitely worth a visit.
As for nightlife, it is always active 🙂 Sarajevo Holiday Market was open and every night there was live entertainment but still many other bars were full of people.
Next time, I hope to see Mostar, the Tunnel of Life, Bobsled Site, a ride in Sunnyland in Trebevic and many others.