Sarajevo most important monuments: our guide.
Upon our arrival in Sarajevo at 6 in the morning, after an overnight bus trip from Belgrade, we were greeted by fog. An August fog enveloping the whole valley, making Sarajevo even more mysterious and intriguing.
Reached the city center from Istocno Sarajevo (on how to get look here), we walked through the old town, where, being Sunday, there was no one in the street. The ancient Ottoman centre was all for us!
Looking for our hostel we were a bit lost. Determined to find him as soon as possible we sat in the only bar in Sebilj square that was open so early in the morning. There, for a very modest price, we had two excellent cappuccino and free access to Wifi, very useful to find our hostel. Let’s admit it, the map that Marco had printed was pitiful! =)
Found the hostel, we started discovering Sarajevo, the Jerusalem of Europe. It was called like this because in its streets Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox and Jewish religions coexist. To get an idea of the intensity of this coexistence look in the map to see how close to each other are the different places of cult!
If you will arrive so early like us, enjoy the almost empty streets and the typical shops starting to exhibit their wares. Then, when you think is the right time, take a good Bosnian coffee, accompanied by a delicious Baklaba.
Honestly if you do not want to participate in pre-arranged tour, we advise you not to pass from the information point of the city. We say this because it does not provide much free material, apart a map of the place, while it seems trying selling any type of tour. That’s also one of the reason we write so much about Sarajevo! =)
Instead following our post you will have the chance to visit Sarajevo most important monuments without paying!
Sarajevo most important monuments: Bascarsija.
From the heart of the Ottoman city, Bascarsija, it start your adventure among Sarajevo most important monuments.
The old town, whose construction began in 1462, has its center in Sebilj square, which in Arabic means a wood public fountain. It was built in 1753 by Mehmet pasha Kukavica. Over the years it was changed several times, until the final version of the 1891 by Czech architect Alexander Wittek.
Curiosity: As a sign of friendship a replica was donated to the city of Belgrade in 1989, only three years before the war.
Continuing on Saraci street you see on the left Gazi Husrev – Begova dzamija, the most important mosque in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Built in 1531, is part of the various complex donated by Gazi Husrev Bey, Ottoman governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the time.
A curiosity: it was the first mosque in the world to receive electricity!
On Ulica Čizmedžiluk 24, next to the mosque, do not miss the traditional Bosnian coffee offered by Kahva Dulistan.
Continuing on Saravi, visit the market full of souvenirs, clothes and various imitations.
If you head on Mula Mustafe Baseskije stop by Stari I Hram, the synagogue built in 1581 to accommodate the Jews expelled from Spain. Also called “The Old Temple”, it was set on fire and destroyed twice. It is now a Jewish museum and library.
Continuing on Saravi, which becomes Ferhadija, you could discover the mosque Ferhadija džamija, characterised by a small cemetery at its entrance. It was built in 1591 by the Ottoman governor Ferhad-Beg Vuković. It has within many old paintings, some of which date back to the 16th century.
On Ferhadija there is also the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, which we have already talked about as one of the symbolic places of the siege of Sarajevo. It was finished in 1899 with a neo Gothic style inspired by the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Walking a little we arrive to “Saborna Crkva Presvete Bogorodica“, Orthodox Cathedral built in 1868. It is the largest Orthodox monument of Sarajevo, dedicated to Theotokos (name of the mother of Jesus for the Orthodox). Alexander II of Russia sent numerous professionals to build and paint the icons inside the church.
Trivia: In 1871, the inauguration was postponed for a year, following protests from Muslim community, since the building was taller than all the mosques.
At the cross between Ferhadija e Marsala Tita lies “Viecna Vatra”, the eternal flame commemorating the victory of Yugoslavia in World War II and remembering the victims of the Nazi occupation of the city. It was inaugurated in 1946.
Sarajevo most important monuments: on the Miljacka river.
Head to the river Miljacka and you will find the Post Office. This is the most important building in the Austro-Hungarian era, designed by Josip Vancas between 1907 and 1909.
Author of many popular buildings in the entourage of the Emperor, Vancas took example from Wien Post Office bank. The building was completely destroyed at the beginning of the war in 1992 and rebuilt in 2001 in a excellent way.
If it were not for Emma, a volunteer of the historical museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we would never have entered!
There are many monuments in Sarajevo on the river as Likovna Akademija, Academy of Fine Arts, the synagogue Ashkneazy, third largest in Europe, and the Latin bridge, where the Archduke Ferdinand was killed. In front of the bridge there is the Museum of Sarajevo 1878-1918, focused on the Austro Hungarian period.
Always following the course of the river you will pass by Careva dzamija “The Emperor’s mosque”, built in 1457 by Isa Bey Ishakovic, founder of Sarajevo. It is considered one of the most beautiful mosques in the Balkans.
After another few hundred meters you arrive in front of Vijecnica, symbol of Sarajevo. This pseudo-Moorish style building, built in 1896, was a meeting place for the authorities until the Second World War. It later became the National Library. In 1992 it was tragically bombed.
If you are on the bridge, with Vijecnica behind you, you will see on the left a restaurant called Inat Kuća, the “house of spite.” Curious name, no?
The reason is that the Austro-Hungarian authorities were determined to build Vijecnica on the right side of the river, where it is now. But the land was owned by a man named Benderija, who did not want to sell his property and see his house demolished. After lengthy negotiation, Benderija agreed to sell the land in exchange of a bag full of gold coins. He also said that his house had to be moved, brick by brick, to the other side of the river, which actually happened. The building is still there, and since 1997 is a restaurant.
It is almost the end of our walk among Sarajevo most important monuments. If you are not very tired we suggest you to tackle the steepy Veliki Alifakova, a road that is on the right of the restaurant Inat Kuća. At the top there is one of the many cemeteries of Sarajevo.
You will notice that many dates on the tombstones are between 1992 and 1996, years of the siege of Sarajevo. If you want to discover the places of that shocking war you can be guided in this post.
But when you are in the cemetery we recommend to simply admire Sarajevo from the top, accompanied by silence.