Short Sarajevo history:
Sarajevo as we know it today was founded by the Ottoman Empire in the 1450’s upon conquering the region, with 1461 typically used as the city’s founding date. The first known Ottoman governor of Bosnia, Isa-Beg Ishaković, chose the tiny local village of Brodac as a good space for a new city. He exchanged land with its residents, giving them today’s Hrasnica neighborhood in Ilidža, and soon began building his provincial capital as he envisioned it. He quickly built a number of key objects, including a mosque, a closed marketplace, a public bath, a bridge, a hostel, and the governor’s castle (“Saray”) which gave the city its present name. The mosque was named “Carova Džamija” (the Emperor’s Mosque; the Imperial Mosque) in honor of the Sultan Mehmed II.
With the improvements Sarajevo quickly grew into the largest city in the region. Many Christians converted to Islam at this time, as Ottoman reports from the period often tell of residents with Muslim names but of Christian named fathers, such as “Mehmed, son of Ivan”. Meanwhile, an Orthodox population first appeared in Sarajevo at this time, as the Orthodox Church was built. A colony of Ragusan merchants also appeared in Sarajevo at this time. Soon after, in the early 16th century, the Sarajevo Haggadah came to city, along with Jewish refugees from Andalusia. For the first time in its history, Sarajevo was the city of four religions. The Jewish population made note of this, naming the city “The European Jerusalem.”
Things to do and to see while in Sarajevo:
If you want to spend a day learning about Sarajevo rich and turbulent history our Invicta Travel Sarajevo guides can take you on amazing and informative 2 hours long Sarajevo walking tour. The tour includes a beautiful walk through streets of Old Town Bascarsija and our guides will explain you all you need to know about the city.
Let’s go back, way back to 28th June 1914, the day that saw an event which kicked off World War I and changed the world forever. You can stand on the corner where Gavrilo Princip, one of five freedom fighters/terrorists who plotted to kill the Archduke of Austria-Este, Franz Ferdinand. Our guides will explain you about this interesting story which is considered as the main trigger of the World War I.
Vijećnica / City Hall
The architecture of Sarajevo is just as interesting as the history. You’ll see a mix of grand and ghastly! Austro – Hungarian craft sits side by side with the ‘function over frills’ soviet style bland buildings. 60% of the buildings in Sarajevo were damaged during the ’92-’95 siege. City Hall was reconstructed and is an important symbol today. Our guides have very interesting stories to tell you about the construction of this famous landmark.
House of Spite
City Hall did not always sit on that spot at the start (or end) of the Old Town. Previously a little man’s house was in the prime location but the Austrian – Hungarian monarchy wanted it. Like most men with power do, they tried to make this man move but he was stubborn. He finally caved into the negotiations with the result that he was paid handsomely and his modest house was moved, brick by brick, over the river Miljacka, directly facing the new City Hall. The House of Spite (Inat Kuća) is now a restaurant. Everyone in Sarajevo knows this true and interesting story about a man VS system.
The Old Town / Sarajevo Baščaršija
Stroll through the cobbled streets of Baščaršija, grab a coffee or shisha and observe people or buy some trinkets from the cute shops which line the small Old Town lanes.
If you want to feel Orient in the middle of Europe, this is the right place.
800 meters of man-made underground tunnel connected the city of Sarajevo with the United Nations ‘safe place’ at the airport. This tunnel was dug by citizens from both sides of the city and took 4 months to complete. The tunnel allowed the passing of medicine, food, and artillery which helped the locals survive and the army fight during the siege. This tour is a must do when in Sarajevo. Our guides have the knowledge and experience for this tour to make it as personal as possible and bring the details of war horrors as closer to you as possible.
Sarajevo’s Abandoned Bobsleigh Track
Did you know that Sarajevo played host to the ’84 Winter Olympics?
The bobsleigh and luge track still stands (in most parts) at the top of Mount Trebević. The abandoned bobsleigh track was used by the Bosnian Serbs during the siege as a base for their attack on the city. You can see that some on the concrete track has fallen from the grenade impacts. You can also use a cable car to get here and enjoy the most beautiful panorama view of the city.
Vrelo Bosne – Source of river Bosna
Ever popular with local families, the focus of this extensive park is a patchwork of lush mini-islands. The park is set at the cliff-mouth source of the Bosna River. The classic way to get there is to stroll or take a horse-drawn cart. Here you can enjoy in peace and silence outside from the city noise.
Food and Drink in Sarajevo:
While visiting Bosnia’s capital, one thing that cannot be missed is a plate of tasty ćevapi. Ćevapi are the national dish and is essentially grilled minced beef in a sausage shape. They are served inside a flatbread with onions and sauce. The sausages are usually small, so one portion is made up of several ćevapi. Another most famous meal in Sarajevo is Pita or Burek. There’s one thing you need to know: Burek is the “King” of all local pies. Burek, one of the most popular Bosnian cuisine specialties, is a meat pie. Burek is made with minced or finely chopped meat, onion, oil, salt and pepper, all mixed and wrapped in a thin pastry (jufka). Jufka is later traditionally rolled out by hand using a long wooden rolling pin (oklagija).
While you are exploring Sarajevo, you can also try Sarajevsko beer directly from the brewery. We usually say that you can’t leave Sarajevo without trying our Bosnian coffee, which you can find everywhere in the Old Town.