Sarajevo – A City Where East Meets West


Sarajevo. Even the name makes you think about a city full of history and enchantment. From a distance you see a place where Ottoman minarets are touching the sky and Austro-Hungarian architecture decorates the streets. But Sarajevo is so much more than a painting. It’s a place where east meets west. It’s a city that will surprise you, move you, and leave you longing to return. It’s a simple and complicated city at the same time, a city that has endured hardship yet is crawling with life. Having visited countless times, each trip unveils a new corner, a hidden gem, a story etched in the very fabric of the city.

A City Where Time Collides

The thing you will first notice when you step into Sarajevo is its unique blend of Eastern and Western influences. Baščaršija is the old part of the city that seems like a labyrinth, or some small city from J.K. Rowling books, the heart of the Ottoman Old Town. Here, the scent of freshly brewed Bosnian coffee is followed by the rhythmic hammering of coppersmiths. Gaze upon the elegant facades of mosques like Gazi Husrev-beg and it’s like you are hearing the centuries of prayer that have been said and sung within their walls. There, just around a corner find yourself on Ferhadija Street, a bustling street lined with shops and cafes that wouldn’t look out of place in Vienna.

Coffee: A Ritual, Not Just a Beverage

When it comes to coffee, Bosnians take their ‘kava’ seriously. Here, coffee is a social ritual, a way to catch up with current topics and gossip of the day. Throw yourself into a comfy chair in a traditional “kahvana” (coffeehouse) and enjoy a thick, strong brew in a small brass džezva. You will see locals narrating and explaining, mesmerized by conversation, sipping their coffee slowly, savoring the flavor and the company. It’s a cultural experience not to be missed.

Cevapi: A Culinary Delight

It would be a waste of a trip to Sarajevo without trying its culinary crown jewel: cevapi. These small, succulent sausage shaped kebabs  are grilled to perfection and served on warm flatbread with chopped onions and kajmak (a clotted cream). You would never expect that such a simple dish can be so addictive! Head to a local “ćevapbdžinica” (fast-food restaurant), most known are ‘Željo’ and ‘Hodžić’, for an authentic experience, and don’t be surprised to find yourself sharing a table with people; friends, strangers, or even the local butcher – that’s the magic of Sarajevo.

A City That Remembers

Sarajevo’s resilience is palpable. The scars of the siege in the 1990s are still visible, a stark reminder of the city’s turbulent past. Yet, Sarajevo chooses to look forward, not dwell on the past. Museums like the War Childhood Museum offer poignant insights into the lives of children during the siege, while Yellow Ribbon Road, a path marked with 350 yellow painted chairs – one for each person killed by a sniper from a specific location – serves as a sobering reminder of the city’s suffering. But the spirit of the people remains unbroken.

Today’s Culture of Tolerance and Creativity in Sarajevo

Sarajevo is a city of remarkable tolerance. Mosques, churches, and synagogues stand side-by-side, a testament to the city’s long history of interfaith coexistence. You would have to spend a lot of time in Sarajevo to be able to notice the slight influence this multicultural has on the lives of its residents. This spirit of inclusivity spills over into the arts scene. Here east meets west with tolerance and creativity. The Sarajevo Film Festival, established in 1992 during the siege, is a testament to the city’s enduring love for cinema. It’s a time when the entire Balkan movie scene comes together for a few days to witness the best work from the region. Street art adds splashes of color to buildings, while local theaters and galleries showcase the work of talented artists.

Beyond the City Limits

Sarajevo is more than just a city; it’s a gateway to stunning natural beauty. Take a day trip to Trebević Mountain, where you can visit the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views. Hike through the lush valleys of Bjelašnica Mountain, or explore the historic town of Višegrad, made famous by Ivo Andrić’s novel “The Bridge on the Drina.”

My Sarajevo

Each visit to Sarajevo now feels like a homecoming, especially during Film Festival or around New Year. My friends, with their warm hospitality and infectious laughter, because I think Bosnians have the best sense of humor in the world, make it all the more special. Whether we’re indulging in endless cups of coffee at a local cafe or sharing stories under the starlit summer sky, every moment feels cherished. Sarajevo is a city that gets under your skin, a place that leaves you wanting more.

Ready to Fall in Love with Sarajevo?

If you’re looking for a destination that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes, look no further than Sarajevo. It’s a city that will surprise you, move you, and leave you longing to return. So, pack your bags, grab your walking shoes, and prepare to discover the magic of Sarajevo for yourself. We are here to be your local guides!