The capital city Sarajevo is a leading cultural centre in the Balkans, boasting a long and rich history of religious and cultural diversity. It lies in the narrow valley of the Miljacka River and it’s souranded by Olimpic mountains: Trebevic, Bjelasnica, Igman, Jahorina. Adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Judaism have coexisted in the city for centuries, earning Sarajevo the nickname “Jerusalem of Europe”.
Sarajevo is a city in which even strangers can feel at home. Neither geographically expansive nor characterised by large buildings, the city retains a particular, arresting charm with its abundance of busy cafés and abiding tradition of hospitality.
Old Town is the crowning glory of Sarajevo. Oriental-style shops line the cobbled streets, competing for space with some of the world’s most beautiful religious institutions. It is one of the few places in the world where you can hear the Islamic call to prayer while walking past an Orthodox church, a catholic cathedral or a synagogue at the same time. All four religions share one block of the neighborhood, exemplifying the diversity of the city.
It’s been 20 years since Sarajevo suffered the longest city siege in the history of modern warfare. Between 1992 and 1996, for 1,425 days, Bosnian Serb forces killed almost 14,000 residents and destroyed a plethora of buildings as international audiences looked on in horror and disbelief. It was a dark period for the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, known, due to its beauty, as the ‘Jerusalem of the Balkans’. In fact, it was a dark period for the world as a whole.
But that was two decades ago. And, in the immediate aftermath of the destruction, Sarajevo was hardly a hotspot for tourists, not least for the landmines which were dotted around the countryside. However, in the past few years, as a result of a lot of rebuilding and restoration work, it’s once again got the travel pilgrims flocking its way.