Sarajevo – a hidden gem in Europe

Sarajevo – a hidden gem in Europe

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small European country where East and West meet, where traditional and modern blend in a unique way that keeps the best of both, and where a mosque, a church, and a synagogue can be found on the same street. Its capital is Sarajevo, sometimes called ‘Jerusalem of Europe’ for its cultural and religious diversity, and it is a perfect example of all the beauty and fun that Bosnia has to offer.

Sarajevo is a city with rich and interesting history – from the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand that started the World War I, to the siege of Sarajevo that took place from 1992 to 1995, to its beginnings all the way back in the 15th century. There are many museums in the city that you can visit to learn more about history of Sarajevo. The National Museum (‘Zemaljski muzej’ in Bosnian) is the one you should definitely not miss. It has exhibitions on anything you would want to see, from archeological findings from the Roman period, a look at medieval Bosnian kings and queens (Bosnia was an  independent kingdom for hundreds of years), to several rooms that faithfully represent a house from the Ottoman times.

Baščaršija

You should also definitely visit Baščaršija (pronounced Bash-char-shi-ya), an old bazaar that is almost like an untouched piece of history. It is also the best place to try all the local delicacies. Ćevapi, or ćevapčići, (pronounced chevapi/chevapchichi), a grilled minced meat type of kebab, served with special flatbread, and pita, a thin dough filled with different things (meat, cheese, potato – there are several variations) and rolled into a spiral, are the two you must not miss. Or the sweets! Traditional Bosnian cakes are recognizable by being soaked in agda, a syrup made out of sugar and water, which gives them special sweetness and strong flavour. Also, tap water is safe for drinking. Cool, right?

If you would like to enjoy the nature while visiting, you are lucky, because Sarajevo is surrounded by beautiful mountains, it has several untouched areas ideal for taking a walk, and right at its outskirts is the spring of river Bosnia. You can also climb to the White or Yellow Fortress, two remnants of the history that offer a fantastic view of the entire city.

In case you want to experience some of the more contemporary things Sarajevo offers, apart from many restaurants, cafes, and clubs you can visit, you can also go to one of many festivals that happen during the year. MESS is a theatrical festival with almost cult following, and for a month during summer and winter, respectively, Baščaršija Nights and Sarajevo Winter take place, hosting myriad of cultural and social events on many locations. However, the most famous one is definitely Sarajevo Film Festival, taking place during August. In only 25 years, it became one of the biggest and most prominent movie festivals in Europe. People from all around the world gather to watch hundreds of movies and enjoy the city life, which becomes even more vibrant and exciting during the Festival.

If you decide to visit Sarajevo, you will leave with a big smile and warm memories. People are friendly, food and nature amazing, and prices are low, so you can travel on a budget and yet not lose out on anything. It is a great place to relax and enjoy something new and different.

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