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The Best guide through Sarajevo

December 03, 2023


The Best guide through Sarajevo

Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its largest urban, cultural, economic, and transportation hub, stands out as one of the historically most intriguing cities in Europe. It is a city that bridges the Western and Eastern worlds, as well as various religions and cultures, exemplifying a place where multiculturalism and a pleasant atmosphere prevail.

When Sarajevo is mentioned, the first things that come to mind are usually ćevapi and Turkish coffee, but Sarajevo is much more than that. A city that has recovered from war, it is now widely known for its friendliness and safety. In fact, the renowned Lonely Planet guide ranked it among the top 10 destinations for the year 2010.

In the following sections of this guide, we will showcase 10 things and places that you simply must experience.


The essence of any capital lies in its old quarter, and when it comes to Sarajevo, that essence is exceptionally rich and vibrant. Baščaršija is composed of a network of narrow cobblestone streets, offering an immersive oriental experience. Numerous craft shops contribute to this atmosphere, crafting copper artifacts, traditional rugs, and stores selling traditional Bosnian and Turkish sweets.

Your eyes and mind will be captivated by the sight of handmade utensils, colorful lanterns casting subdued lights, and vibrant cushions, while your senses will be awakened by the aroma of freshly grilled ćevapi and baklava. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste ćevapi at Željo or Mrkva. The most significant structures in Baščaršija include the wooden fountain Sebilj and mosques such as Baščaršijska and Gazi Husrev-begova.

Gradska vijećnica

The City Hall represents the most prominent building in Sarajevo and an architectural masterpiece. Constructed from 1892 to 1894, it was modeled after the Hasan II Mosque in Cairo, with its grand opening held in 1896. The assassination of the Austro-Hungarian heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, occurred in 1914, right after his visit to the City Hall. Since 1947, the City Hall started losing its administrative role, transforming into the seat of the Academy of Sciences and Arts, as well as the main library.

During the last war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the night of August 25 to 26, 1992, the City Hall was directly hit by artillery shells, resulting in a fire that consumed the entire interior of the building along with 90% of the library collection, including invaluable manuscripts. Three employees, who lived and worked in the library with their families during the war, managed to save a small portion of the books.

The restoration of the City Hall began in 1996, and due to the complexity of the work and a lack of financial resources, it lasted until 2014 when the building was reopened to visitors. Admission is charged at 5 KM for adults (3 KM for students) and is definitely worth exploring.

Latinska ćuprija

Like almost every capital, Sarajevo also has its river, the Miljacka, and where there are rivers, there are bridges. In Sarajevo, the Latin Bridge is the equivalent of Charles Bridge in Prague and Chain Bridge in Budapest. Although it may not be as architecturally impressive as the mentioned bridges, the Latin Bridge has an exceptionally interesting historical background.

This bridge is among the oldest in Sarajevo and became known for being in close proximity to where Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie, an event that triggered the First World War. From 1918 to 1992, the bridge was named Princip Bridge, and after that, it was given back its original name.

The bridge has a simple but attractive design. In addition to the Latin Bridge, Miljacka is crossed by several other bridges, including Šeher-Ćehajina Bridge near the City Hall and the modernist Festina Lente Bridge, located near the Academy of Fine Arts.

Religious buildings

Due to its unique blend of diverse cultures and religions, Sarajevo has been dubbed the European Jerusalem and a place where East meets West. This is likely the only location in Europe where, within walking distance of a few hundred meters, you can see a mosque, a Catholic church, an Orthodox church, and a synagogue. Despite the wartime period the city endured, Sarajevo managed to preserve its multiculturalism and its most significant symbols. Impressive mosques include Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, Careva Mosque, Alipaša’s Mosque, Baščaršija Mosque, and Ferhadija, mostly dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries.

Regarding Catholic structures, the most notable are the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the Franciscan Church of St. Anthony of Padua, and the Church of St. Joseph. Orthodox landmarks worth visiting are the Cathedral Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God and the Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel from the 14th century, also known as the Old Orthodox Church.

The most significant Jewish temple in Sarajevo is the Ashkenazi Synagogue, considered one of the largest synagogues in Europe. It is usually closed to visitors, but if you wish to learn more about the history and culture of Jews in Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, visit the Jewish Museum located in the old synagogue from the 16th century, on the edge of Baščaršija. All religious sites are open to visitors, with free entry, while respecting prayer times and dress codes.

Ferhadija Street

Ferhadija represents the main pedestrian street in Sarajevo, stretching from the Eternal Flame monument all the way to Baščaršija. It is precisely here that the collision of East and West is most visible, as unlike the distinctly strong Oriental influence characterizing Baščaršija, Ferhadija is primarily characterized by the architecture from the Austro-Hungarian period.

Besides numerous cafes and shops, this street is rich in various landmarks such as the Eternal Flame (a monument to the victims of World War II from 1946), Ferhadija Mosque, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the city market Markale, the Museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide, Gallery 11/07/95, and more. Pay attention to the so-called “Sarajevo Roses,” which are craters from shells filled with red paint.

They are named because they resemble roses with torn petals and serve as a kind of memorial to the citizens of Sarajevo who lost their lives. One such “rose” is located right in front of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

White and yellow Tabia

The White and Yellow Bastions are fortifications on the hills above Sarajevo, offering an excellent view of the entire city. The White Bastion dates back to the late 14th and early 15th centuries, later expanded during the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian periods. It belongs to the architectural complex of the Old Town Vratnik and is listed as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Yellow Bastion is one of the fortresses that comprised the defensive rampart around the old town of Vratnik, named after the color of the stone used in its construction. After the invasion by Eugene of Savoy in 1697, it became apparent that the small fortress located at the site of the White Bastion was insufficient for the defense of the city. Consequently, the construction of ramparts around Vratnik began, consisting of five fortifications, with the Yellow Bastion being one of them.

Today, inside the Yellow Bastion, there is a café with a summer garden where you can enjoy the view of Sarajevo. During Ramadan, a cannon is fired from the Yellow Bastion, marking the time of sunset and the end of the day-long fast.

Vrelo Bosne

In the settlement of Ilidža, not far from Sarajevo, the nature monument of Vrelo Bosne is located on an area of 603 hectares. The source of the Bosna River at this site forms several small lakes where fish swim, and swans and ducks glide, surrounded by rich forests and other vegetation.

Vrelo Bosne is a favorite destination for Sarajevans, as well as numerous tourists from various parts of the country and the world. It is particularly popular in spring and summer months, providing a refuge during hot weather due to slightly lower temperatures.

This area is a habitat for various plant and animal species, some of which are endemic. The recreation area is suitable for families with children, and gastronomy enthusiasts can taste freshly caught trout. Not far from the spring is the Velika Aleja, a 3.5-kilometer-long promenade surrounded by about 3000 plane and chestnut trees. About 2 kilometers downstream is the Roman Bridge, which in its present form dates back to the Ottoman period. The name “Roman” is owed to the fact that it incorporates Roman shields and swords, as well as a stone slab with a relief of a naked human body.