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Must-See Attractions in Sarajevo, Jerusalem of the Balkans

Updated: Mar 27

Nestled in a valley surrounded by the Dinaric Alps, Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a city that seamlessly blends East and West, tradition and modernity. With a history as diverse as its architecture and a culture shaped by centuries of influence, Sarajevo offers a unique and captivating experience for travellers. Often referred to as the "Jerusalem of the Balkans," Sarajevo earned this epithet due to its remarkable coexistence of different religions—Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Judaism—all harmoniously thriving within its borders. In this guide, we'll explore the must-see attractions that make Sarajevo a destination like no other, where the rich tapestry of history, culture, and religious diversity creates a cityscape unlike any other in the Balkans.


Bascarsija - The Heart of Old Sarajevo: Sarajevo's historic centre, Bascarsija, is a labyrinth of narrow streets, filled with the scent of grilled cevapi and the sounds of craftsmen at work. Dating back to the 15th century, Bascarsija is a symbol of the city's Ottoman heritage. Take a leisurely stroll through its cobbled streets, explore traditional Bosnian shops (dukans), and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere. Bascarsija's cobbled streets, lively markets, and intricate architecture are steeped in a timeless charm. The inhabitants of this atmospheric area are transported back in time as they explore its labyrinthine alleyways, uncovering unique spots. The lively markets are a magnet for local crafts, which include intricately designed carpets, copperware, colourful ceramics and traditional textiles. The aroma of grilled cevapi and freshly baked somun bread greets the crowd, prompting people to indulge in Sarajevo's famous dishes. If you want to experience the essence of Bascarsija, wander through its old streets, stopping at a coffee shop or indulge in sweet treats such as baklava and Turkish delight. Bascarsija's rich history, cultural significance, and reputation as the heart of Old Sarajevo can also be explored on guided walking tours. Whatever you want to do in Sarajevo, to get the real essence and to be immersed fully in the city, Bascarsija is the perfect destination for all.



Bascarsija

Sebilj Fountain: At the heart of Bascarsija, you'll find the iconic Sebilj Fountain. This wooden fountain, built in the 18th century, is not only a refreshing spot but also a meeting point for locals. Legend has it that if you drink water from Sebilj, you'll return to Sarajevo – a perfect ritual for any traveller.


Sebilj Fountain


Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque and Sarajevo's Religious Diversity: Sarajevo is often called the "European Jerusalem" due to its harmonious blend of religions. The Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, dating back to the 16th century, is a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture and a symbol of the city's Islamic heritage. While exploring, you'll also encounter Orthodox churches, Catholic cathedrals, and synagogues, highlighting the coexistence of different faiths.


Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque


Latin Bridge and the Assassination Site: History enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Latin Bridge, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914, sparking the events that led to World War I. Today, the bridge serves as a sombre reminder of the city's complex past and is a must-visit for those interested in the historical significance of Sarajevo.


Latin Bridge


Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum: Gain insight into the city's recent history by visiting the Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum. The tunnel, constructed during the Siege of Sarajevo in the early '90s, was a lifeline for the city. The museum provides a moving and informative experience, showcasing the resilience of Sarajevo's residents during a challenging time. The Museum is situated on the outskirts where visitors can gain a first hand account of the Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War by visiting this extraordinary site. The tunnel, which was a vital lifeline for the besieged city, connects it to outside world and allowed humanitarian aid and supplies to be moved. A portion of the original tunnel is now open to visitors, who can marvel at its cramped conditions and gain a deeper understanding of what Sarajevans were up against during the siege. Through the use of artifacts, photographs, and personal accounts, the museum offers a moving tribute to those who experienced this challenging time. Guests can take advantage of the Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum's free guided tours, which usually include transportation to and from the museum and informative commentary from professional guides, right in the center of Sarajuana. The Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, human resilience, or simply enjoying Saraipov's rich cultural heritage.


Vijecnica - City Hall turned National Library: The Vijecnica, an architectural gem, was originally built as Sarajevo's City Hall in the Austro-Hungarian period. Unfortunately, it suffered extensive damage during the war but has since been beautifully restored. Today, it houses the National and University Library, symbolizing the city's commitment to preserving knowledge and culture. Located in the centre of Sarajevo it can't be missed and is a must see for a remarkable representation of the city's cultural heritage and the country's impressive resilience. It was originally designed and built in the late 1800s. Vijecnica was later at the heart of some of Sarajevo's more darker days during the Bosnian war. This led to some parts of the structure being damaged. Although after a significant restoration, this iconic structure has been restored to its former glory, serving as rebirth for culture and education. Visitors are now visiting Vijecnica for its stunning Moorish Revival architecture, intricate facades, and ornate interiors adorned with intricate artwork and historical items. Located in the building's interior, the National and University Library of Bosnia und Herzegovina is an extensive collection of books, manuscripts; and archival materials. If you are more interested in art, then the city of Sarajevo's arts scene is highlighted through special events and exhibitions, while guided tours offer visitors a glimpse into the city's varied past and its impact on cultural life. The building in Vijecnica can be accessed on foot from Sarajevo's Old Town, or you can take a guided tour to learn about it and its historical significance.


Sarajevo City Hall


Trebevic Mountain: Trebevic is a popular destination for both nature lovers and history enthusiasts. The mountain towers above the city and offers tourist trips to the top easily through the use of a cable car, rather than the long hike! The panoramic views of Sarajevo and a breath of fresh mountain air, allows you to really see the landscape and energy of Bosnia in a whole new light. The Trebevic cable car, positioned high above the historic city of Sarajevo, is more than just a scenic climb to the top. Trebevic Mountain offers a view of the world that extends beyond its verdant forests, leaving you feeling excited as you ascend through lush forests. Not only the scenery, but also the history and experience are what make this cable car ride remarkable. In the 1984 Winter Olympics, the cable car was a crucial connection between the city and its surrounding area, providing ferocity to athletes and spectators as they rode up and down the snowy slopes.  In addition to the stunning scenery, you'll find remnants of the 1984 Winter Olympics facilities. But it's not just about the sport -- it later became a witness to the trials and suffering of the Bosnian War, becoming something of a symbol of resilience for the nation. Today, the Trebevic cable car has been restored to its former glory, serving as a reminder of Sarajevo's unbreakable spirit, providing visitors with an opportunity to step out of the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the beauty of the landscape, history and birds eye view.


View from Trebevic Mountain


We've reached the end of the article about Sarajevo. This city has a fantastic atmosphere, and we believe you will love it as much as we did! In the meantime, you can read other articles on our website. Remember to follow us @thewalkingparrot to be continuously updated on the new releases. We will be back soon with a new article!


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