Sarajevo: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Published: November 12, 2022

The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina is considered to have been created in 1461 under the Ottoman Empire, which made it a city of regional importance. In 1878, Austria-Hungary extended its control over this part of the Balkans, which was to become Yugoslavia after the First World War. Muslim, Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Jewish communities coexist here.

01. Latin Bridge

Sarajevo made history on 24 June 1914 when the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary was assassinated near the Latin Bridge. This marked the outbreak of the First World War, in which the major European powers were involved due to the combination of alliances. The bridge dates back to 1799 and was a link to a district mainly inhabited by Roman Catholics.

02. Kovači Cemetery

Sarajevo came back into the news during the break-up of Yugoslavia where each community tried to control territories often under mixed occupation. The Serbs besieged the city from April 1992 to October 1995. Many victims are buried in the cemeteries on the slopes around the city, Kovači being the best known.

03. Main market

During the Ottoman rule, Sarajevo prospered by using its administrative and commercial role. The authorities encouraged the construction of a large market, or souk, which is still active today. The labyrinth of shop-lined alleys now caters to tourists rather than locals, and there are many traditional restaurants.

04. Sebilj Fountain

The fountain was built in 1891, on a small square forming one of the entrances to the main market. Before the widespread availability of running water in homes, many fountains like this one were available to the inhabitants. With the mosque in the background, the fountain helps to maintain the oriental look of the old town district.

05. Mosque of Gazi Husrev-Bey

Gazi Husrev was a wise administrator of Sarajevo at the beginning of the 16th century and made it one of the most modern cities of its time. He established a religious complex including his own tomb and a Koranic school which is still in use. The mosque is located in the heart of the old town, surrounded by the alleys of the main market. A small cemetery lies behind it.

06. Cathedral of the Heart of Jesus

Sarajevo is known as the city where the four religions Muslim, Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Jewish have been living together for centuries. They have their religious buildings within a short distance in the city centre. The Roman Catholic cathedral dates from 1889 and its square is decorated with a large statue of John Paul II, honouring the Pope’s visit in 1997.

07. Presidency of the Republic

Given the continuing communitarian split in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Presidency of the Republic is held by a triumvirate elected by their respective communities, Bosniak (Muslim), Serb (Orthodox) and Croat (Roman Catholic). Decisions are therefore based on consensus, which is always difficult to implement in the long term.

08. Cable car

A first cable car was inaugurated in 1959. After thirty years, its deterioration was beyond repair. The infrastructure was conveniently destroyed during the siege of Sarajevo and then rebuilt. The new version was opened in 2013, allowing to reach the viewpoint on Trebević Mountain, from where several hiking trails depart.

09. Olympic Museum

In the aftermath of the 1984 Winter Olympics, a collection was assembled to commemorate the event. It was housed in the beautiful 1903 Mandić villa, located above the city centre. The villa was damaged during the siege of the city and part of the collection was burnt. The museum reopened in 2004 as one of several acts of resilience.

10. Avaz Twist Tower

After the deadly siege of 1992-1995, Sarajevo had lost a large part of its population and many buildings were destroyed or damaged. Building on international emotion, a major reconstruction and modernisation effort began. When completed in 2009, the Avaz Tower was the tallest building in the Balkans.

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    • The situation remains tense. I was there during the last elections and the results were not in favour of more unity but rather more radicalism. However, it is better that this happens at the ballot box rather than in fights.


  1. Well sir, I loved this overview, needless to say. One year ago today we were living in Sarajevo for what turned out to be a 4 week stay. One of our favourite cities, for sure. All the stuff featured on your list is essential, great shot of The Latin Bridge. We rented a small apartment just down the road from Kovači Cemetery. I would perhaps have added one of the many exhibits on the Bosnian War. Exceptionally uncomfortable to experience, but necessary of course. Of these, I felt the Gallery 11/07/95 was just gut-wrenching. Don’t think I will ever forget the images I saw in there. Not for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the interesting feedback. Of course the memory of the war in Bosnia is present, however I had the feeling of a kind of instrumentalization for tourist or political purposes, whereas the population seems to be more focused on the future.

      Liked by 1 person

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