Spirit of Sarajevo: Bosnia and Herzegovina Travel Blog 2021
This travel blog details our time in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. We walk around and saw the sights and landmarks of the city. We visited the Baščaršija market, the Gazi Husrev-beg section of town, the Latin Bridge, churches and museums.
We met a man in Bosnia and Herzegovina who remained a copper artist through 4 generations. Through each generation they continued their craft. Hand making bookmarks, plates and more from copper. Through one period of this family’s generation, the copper art told a sad story. Now they tell a story of perseverance and the things that have shaped their culture.
The city of Sarajevo has vibes like we have not yet seen in the Balkans. It's hard to explain; you need to experience it. There is both old and new. It's a huge city not just in population, but in size, which allowed Sarajevo to hold the Winter Olympics in 1984. We also walk around and saw the sights and landmarks of the city of Sarajevo.
We start off at the fountain famous for tourists getting a close encounter with what seems to be all of the pigeons in the city. These pigeons are no joke. There are a lot of them and they fly very low. This Sebilj fountain was constructed in 1891. There was another fountain further down that was built in 1754 but it was burned down in 1852. The term Sebilj means "road" but in this context it more likely refers to the path the water takes to reach the fountain or the path of charity to get the water to the people who really need it. This interpretation symbolizes how clerks would man this fountain and draw water only to give it to thirsty people for free.
The fountain is one of the main symbols of this area of Sarajevo, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. It sits in Baščaršija which is Sarajevo's old bizarre and historical center. One translation of the name means main market. This was once a medieval marketplace during the Ottoman period and it suffered major damage from fires during the Austro-Hungarian time period. When the parts of this area that were destroyed by the fire were rebuilt, it created the style clash that there is today with the original buildings. This market is huge. There are several streets and cross streets allowing you to spend lots of time shopping.
Gazi Husrev-beg. As you go around Sarajevo you will see this man's name a lot. His mother was the daughter of a Sultan. He was an Ottoman governor.
In Sarajevo he founded schools, a shopping mall, a library, an observatory, and a mosque. He was known for his major building improvements and construction.
Even in his death he made a difference to the city. His endowment instructed that whatever money he had remaining should be used to finish his construction projects and to purchase books for the library and schools.
The Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque was built in 1530. The Gazi Husrev-beg Madrasah (school) is the oldest educational institution in BiH; founded in 1537.
His clock tower was designed to show the lunar time. The lunar time helps guide the Muslim prayer times. This is also referred to as Sahat Kula, which you might remember from our Podgorica video & blog means clock tower. This is set manually by someone climbing 76 steps up to the top. The man even continued to set this clock when the city was under Seige during the Bosnian Wars.
Another endowment from Gazi Husrev-beg was a Bezistan. Bezistan is very massive basilica-type stone building, in which the central part of the interior is vaulted. A total of 70 shops are lined down each side of the central part. There are two big vaulted entrances.
During the Siege of Sarajevo, many buildings were burned; including his library. The librarians had the foresight that something like that might happen, so the month before they transferred the manuscripts and important library items to a different place. During the war, every 5 - 6 months they did this. After the war, in 2003 construction on a new Gazi Husrev-beg library began. This project was helped by a large donation from Qatar. This library now has manuscripts in Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and Bosnian.
In this area, on June 28, 1914 is where Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Throne Franz Ferdinand. The emperor at the time was Franz Joseph. Ferdinand was the son of the emperor's brother, the archduke Karl Ludwig. Emperor Franz Joseph had a son Rudoph. So it was never a straight forward path for Ferdinand to become Emperor. He was third in line behind his father and his cousin. He has had Tuberculosis. But his cousin Rudolph, ahead of him in line, took his life, making Franz Ferninand's dad Karl Ludwig the heir to the throne. But he didn't want it. This left Franz Fernindand as the new heir.
Close to this Latin Bridge on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia were in an open top car as part of a motorcade. Here is where Bosnian Serb Cabrinovic threw a bomb toward the Archduke's car, but it bounced off the car and blew up the car behind him. The car sped off. But that was not the only assassin hanging around the Latin Bridge. Ferdinand went down the street for a rest. When they were leaving, no one told the driver to take a different route and thus gave the assassins another chance. When the Archduke and his wife came around a second time, Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip shot and killed both the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Throne Franz Ferdinand and his wife. On July 28th Emperor Fraz Joseph officially signed a document declaring war on Serbia. This was the launching pad for the start of World War 1. The war that killed 20 million people, and ended the Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. Across the street from here is the Sarajevo Museum where you can learn more about this incident.
Some people call Sarajevo the European Jerusalem due to the many different religions openly celebrated in the city. For instance there are Orthodox churches, Catholic churches, mosques and synagogues. Walking around the streets everyone looks to be peacefully coexisting. You can hear the call to prayer and church bells at the same time. There are so many beautiful places to worship here; no matter what you believe in.
The Ashkenazi Synagogue is a Jewish temple that was constructed in 1902. This is an Active Synagogue. There is also a Museum of the Jews of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was the oldest Synagogue in Sarajevo and now is a museum. You will learn a lot about the Jewish life and history in Sarajevo. There is a sad section about the Jewish fate during WWII. For 10 marks you get entry to this Museum and to 4 others; svrzo, despic, brusa bezistan, and museum of Sarajevo (1878 to 1914). The Cathedral Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos is a Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. Translated and paraphrased, Theotokos means "[she] whose offspring is God," speaking of the Virgin Mary. Completed in the 1860s.
Outside of Sacred Heart Cathedral is an aluminum statue of Pope John Paul II, now a saint. He visited Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1997. Around 50,000 people then filled a stadium to hear the Pope call for peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. He wanted to come in 1994, but no one could guarantee his safety. This statue is 3 meters tall and was unveiled in 2014.
The Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel in Sarajevo is also known as the Old Orthodox Church. On the second floor is a bizarre child's coffin with shrine-like paraphernalia surrounding it. Upstairs was a small wooden child’s coffin. The legend is that a child was strangled by his stepmother and thrown into the river, but the priest discovered the body and buried it behind the church. After 200 years it was exhumed when the Church wanted to build on the grounds. When they found the well-preserved body it was declared a miracle, taken inside and the coffin positioned on a trestle structure. Now women struggling with fertility walk around the coffin three times and crawl underneath, in order to become pregnant.
In the city, we unfortunately have many Sarajevo Roses. These are actual mortar or grenade blasts from the Siege of Sarajevo from 1992 to 1995 that pay a unique tribute to those who were killed during one of the most tragic episodes in the city’s history. The largest siege of a city in the modern history of modern warfare. During the Siege of Sarajevo, tens of thousands of grenades fell on the city, leaving many deep marks behind. The grenades that struck the asphalt left marks that resemble a flower. After the war, these “flowers” were filled with red resin. At the entrance of the building there is war damage and maybe still bullet holes.
Veliki means big or large which describes the size of this park well. There are also some benches. The main things to see here are the memorials. There is a Sarajevo Memorial for Children Killed. This is a tribute to the children killed during the Siege of Sarajevo. I've seen different stats, but of them say at least 1,100 children were killed during this war.
The Srebrenica massacre occurred about a 2 and a half hour drive away from Sarajevo in July 1995. During that time more than 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys in and around the town of Srebrenica were killed by Bosnian Serbs. The commander of the Bosnian Serb unit, told the terrified civilians not to be afraid as his forces began the slaughter. They did not stop for 10 days. There is a statue called the Nermin, dodi. This means Nermin come here. This statue depicts a father Ramo calling his son Nermin to surrender since they were told they would not be harmed. But that was not the case. In 2008, both of their bodies were found in a mass grave.
You can see more of Sarajevo and learn more about its history in our travel film "The Spirit of Sarajevo" on YouTube. Out now!
Thanks for reading our blog on Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina!
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