I never thought that I would visit Sarajevo one day, the imagery of it being under siege was still quite vivid in my mind from watching the news in the 90s. But alas we chose to include Sarajevo in our itinerary because its fascinating history and crossroad of cultures had us intrigued. On the surface, the capital of Bosnia Herzegovnia, is not an easy city to love. It even had some of the ugliest buildings I’ve ever seen (example 1, example 2). We had a great free walking guide who walked us through the city with lots of insightful information which I highly recommended.
As noted before, here’s the Latin Bridge where Franz Ferdinand was assassinated and lead to the start of WWI. The museum near the bridge used to be a cafe and it was where Gavrilo Princip, the shooter, was eating before he pulled the trigger.
Sarajevo is unfortunately surrounded by high forested mountains. The main street of Sarajevo: Marshall Tito Street, used to be the most dangerous place to be during the Bosnian War as it’s an easy target from snipers who situated on the hills during the siege. Here’s a good map illustrated it. There are many memorials on the street and you see lots of Sarajevo roses: concrete scar of mortal shell explosion which resulted in one or more death, was filled with red resin.
I was delighted to find M. Chat (Monsieur Chat) on two different buildings! For those who’re familiar with the great late Filmmaker Chris Marker, he used this graffiti cat as a narrative symbol for his film essay. More can be found around Sarajevo but we didn’t have time to look for them.
The Old Turkish quarter in Sarajevo would make you feel like you’re in the Middle East instead of the Balkans. If we didn’t go to Turkey the year before we probably would have found the Turkish quarter to be more intriguing. Afterall it’s hard to compete with to the amazing Bazaars and Mosques at Istanbul.
We had great meals at the Turkish quarter. We randomly pick places to eat within the quarter and the food were all delicious! For example:
Sarma: Rice and meat wrapped in grape leaves with yogurt
Bosnian food really provides a much needed palette break from all the pasta and seafood dishes that dominates Croatian and Slovenian cuisines.
After dinner, we went to a quirky Gothic bar + cafe call Zlatna Ribica. It’s truly one of its kind. Visual overloaded would perfectly describe the place. It’s completely filled with antiques, quirky objects, old books, photos, toys paintings…etc. The menu are “hidden” in all these old story books lying around. There’re small TVs showing static TV programs from the past. The bathroom was also something, it’s hard to describe in words, you have to be there to see it yourself!
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Next day, we took a 3 hour bus journey from Sarajevo to Mostar, a scenic Medieval town that’s known for beautiful Islamic architecture. As soon as we arrived, the beautiful scenery took my breath away. The old town definitely had strong Ottoman Empire’s influences instead of the Austria’s.
Here’s the beautiful Old Bridge, one of the stars of Islamic architecture in the Balkans. It stood for 427 years until it was utterly destroyed during the Bosnian war. It was reconstructed and reopened in 2004.