1. Sarajevo city is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, situated on the Miljacka River and it has always been smack bang on a geopolitical fault line.
2. During the Roman Empire Sarajevo together with Bosnia was a border city between the Eastern and Western Roman Empires.
3. In the Middle Ages city had the name Vrh-Bosna until it fell under the control of the Ottoman Empire in 1429 and was renamed Bosna-Saraj or Bosna-Seraj.
4. During the Berlin Congress in 1878 Sarajevo was taken from the Ottomans and given to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, again right on the border line between two Empires, between East and West, between Islam and Christianity.
5. In the last 100 years Sarajevo has been a member of six different states.
6. On the 28thof June 1914 WWI was triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria with his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg.
7. The city has 10 bridges over the Miljacka River. The most famous one is the Latin Bride or Princip Bridge, the name of assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The bridge is on the coat of arms of Sarajevo.
8. The city-wide tram service was the very first in Europe. Locals proudly insist that the Austro-Hungarians modelled Vienna’s tram system on theirs.
9. The first Winter Olympic Games in Communist country were held in Sarajevo in February 1984, winning over Sapporo, Japan and Gothenburg, Sweden.
10. Sarajevo had the longest-running siege of any town in modern war history (1425 days).
Sarajevo was, and still is, a very culturally mixed city proudly known as the European Jerusalem – within a very short walking distance you come across Orthodox and Catholic churches, synagogues and mosques.
Must See Sights:
1. Latin Bridge
On June 28, 1914 as Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, ride in an open car across the Latin Bridge toward the Town Hall, Gavrilo Princip stepped forward and shot and killed them both. This assassination at the Latin Bridge immediately started WWI.
2. Eternal Flame
Fast forward to WWII, the Eternal Flame commemorates the sacrifices made and lives lost. It was dedicated on April 6, 1946 and can be found at the end of Sarajevo’s pedestrian street Ferhadija.
Very early on January 2, 2011 the flame suddenly self-extinguished before a crowd of revelers. A passing tourist heroically re-ignited the flame less than 20 seconds later to the relief of the crowd, preserving the memorial’s continuity.
3. City Hall (Vijećnica)
Vijećnica (City Hall) is the most extravagant building constructed in Sarajevo during Austro-Hungarian occupation and serves as a symbol of the meeting of world civilizations.
The project was overseen by Alexander Wittek, who had proposed his Pseudo Moorish design – the perfect architectural unity of East and West – for the future seat of the city’s government.
Since it first opened on April 20, 1896, the building has become the most important symbol of Sarajevo and is featured as an iconic motif in many photographs of the city.
On the nights of August 25-26, 1992 during the last war, Vijećnica was set ablaze. Nearly 90% of the library's collection went up in flames and the building became a symbol of the Siege and tragedy of Sarajevo.
Vijećnica’s reconstruction got underway in 1996 and the official opening took place on May 9, 2014, the same day that Europe Day and the Day of Victory over Fascism are observed.
The Baščaršija is a great place to start off a visit to Sarajevo. Wandering Sarajevo’s Coppersmith Street might leave you thinking you’re in Istanbul as the sounds of craftman’s hammers on silver and the smells of Turkish coffee waft through the air. Stroll the Turkish bazaars (and barter for some hand-knitted wool sweaters), indulge on the Bosnian food at the cafes, and people watch.
5. Gazi Husrev Bey’s Mosque
Right in the heart of the Baščaršija is Gazi Husrev Bey’s Mosque. Built in 1531 by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. It’s benefactor, Gazi Husrev-bey, is remembered at each prayer time. He said:
“Good deeds drive away evil, and one of the most worthy of good deeds is the act of charity, and the most worthy act of charity is one which lasts forever. Of all charitable deeds, the most beautiful is one that continually renews itself.”
The mosque was badly damaged in the siege of the city by more than hundred mortar-shells hits. It has since been restored and while we did not go inside as I was not appropriately dressed with the temperatures nearing 100 F, I was thoroughly fascinated to hear the call to prayer multiple times of the day. People would come, remove their shoes, and kneel on carpets in the courtyard to pray.
6. Cathedral of Jesus’ Heart
Completed in 1889, the cathedral was badly damaged in the siege of the city and restored. The design above the cathedral’s door is part of the flag and seal of Sarajevo Canton and the Romanesque towers are featured on the flag and coat of arms of Sarajevo.