Sarajevo, the Jerusalem of Europe

Ljiljana Krejic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Just as Goran Bregović is constantly overwhelmed by Sarajevo, you can expect nothing but astonishment. The capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina has its special vibe, and it will completely hypnotize you before you even realize it. You will unconsciously accept the challenge of understanding the melting pot - where East and West have been coming together for centuries. It is no wonder that Sarajevo is known as the Jerusalem of Europe.

One of a kind

Sarajevo, with its cultural eclecticism, is one of a kind. While you stroll the Old Town and its Bazaars, you will feel like you are in Istanbul. And just when you immerse in the Ottomans culture, you will be surprised to see a glimpse of Austro-Hungarian times, only a few streets further away. This unexpected architectural fusion shaped the nucleus of the city. Sarajevo is unquestionably a kind of a hot mess, but certainly the best one you can see in Europe.

Baščaršija Square - Sarajevo Old Town

© iStock/Dreamer4787

The best starting point for exploring Sarajevo's Old Town is the Baščaršija Square (also known as Pigeon Square), founded by the Ottomans in the 15th century as the main trading and social goings-on area. Baščaršija still has two old covered bazaars - Gazi Husrev Bey's Bezistan and Brusa Bezistan, and Sahat Kula (Clock Tower), the workshops of Sarajevo's artisans and many more.

Vijećnica - Sarajevo’s architectural masterpiece

© iStock/Narena Ibrisimovic

If one building deserves an etiquette of Sarajevo’s architectural masterpiece, it would be Sarajevo Vijećnica, a unique Pseudo-Moorish artwork. Once used as a city hall, this perfect blend of the Orient and the Occident has witnessed historical turmoil in the last centuries.

Meeting of cultures

© iStock/momo11353

If you have not heard of a place where East meets West, get ready to immortalize the moment you see it. In Sarajevo, there is a spot where two different civilizations touch and connect. When you stand on it, on one side, you will have the Eastern (Ottoman) Sarajevo, and if you turn 180°, you will look at the Western Sarajevo, dominated by Austro-Hungarian style buildings.

Sarajevo & its bridges

© iStock/Leonid Andronov

Having been a living museum, Sarajevo offers a historical promenade par excellence. One of the best ways to grasp the city’s rich history is to stroll along the Miljacka River and get to know Sarajevo’s bridges. Each of them has its unique story. For instance, the Latin Bridge is where Archduke Franz Ferdinand took the bullet that started World War I.

Insider's tips

The best way to explore Sarajevo is by foot. Hence, I suggest three walking tours. During this grand walking tour through Sarajevo's history, you will uncover its secrets and experience the mysticism of its streets and alleys. If you wish to learn about the history of the city but also taste some traditional delicacies, book this walking tour. However, this half-day hike is a great choice to explore authentic Sarajevo neigbourhoods off the beaten path and discover the most beautiful viewpoints over Sarajevo. 

© iStock/kketi

Last but certainly not least, the Jerusalem of Europe has to be seen from above, particularly at sunset. The best panoramic view of Sarajevo is from the place called Yellow Fortress. It can take some time to climb up (or just take a cab), but the fantastic view and spectacular sunset are worth it.

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