A city that embraces the best of the East and the West, where Orthodox and Catholic churches, mosques, and synagogues can be seen side by side within a few steps, in a way rarely found in the world: Sarajevo.
The Capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. With a population of just over half a million, it is the country’s largest city. Located in the middle of the Dinaric Alps, the city is situated at an altitude of 500 meters above sea level and covers an area of 141.5 square kilometers.
The Palace of Bosnia
The oldest name of present-day Sarajevo was Vrhbosna. It acquired its current name during the period of the Ottoman Empire. The name “Sarajevo” in Bosnian is formed by the combination of the words “saraj” (palace) and “ovo” (plain). Both of these words have Turkish origins, meaning “palace” and “plain” respectively. Sarajevo means “Palace Plain.” Additionally, during the Ottoman Empire, the city was also referred to as “Saraybosna,” meaning “Palace of Bosnia.”
One of the Most Important Cities of the Ottoman Empire
Although the city became part of the Ottoman territories in 1463, it was briefly lost soon after. Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, began to display its modern face with the Ottoman conquests in the 15th century. Isa Ishaković Bey, the first governor of the Bosnian Eyalet, played a significant role in the urbanization of the region. He built a mosque, covered bazaar, caravanserai, bathhouse, and the government “Saray,” which gave the city its name. Rapidly developing, Sarajevo soon became the largest city in the region.
Church, Mosque, and Synagogue Together
In the history of Sarajevo, traces of many cultures can be found. Rightly so, the city’s population takes pride in the centuries-long coexistence of Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, and Judaism as a tradition of rich beliefs.
This place is a unique spot in the world, where Orthodox and Catholic churches, mosques, and synagogues can be seen side by side within a few steps. The inhabitants of Sarajevo enjoy a warm atmosphere, and the crime rate is quite low.
Significant Events in Sarajevo’s History
While Sarajevo has a deep-rooted history, one of the most notable events that brought it to the global stage is undoubtedly the Bosnian War and Siege that began in 1992. Other significant events in its history include the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which triggered the start of World War I, and the 1984 Winter Olympics.
Sarajevo Among the Top 10 Cities
Sarajevo is a safe city and a highly popular tourist destination. It is among the top 10 most visited cities in the world. It was nominated as the European Capital of Culture in 2011. The city made it to the list of the top 10 places to visit in 2010 by Lonely Planet, the world’s largest travel guide and digital media publisher.
The Classic Ottoman Bazaar, “Baščaršija”
The historical center of Sarajevo, known as the “Stari Grad” or Old Town, is the city’s most cherished area. Bosniaks refer to this central area as “Baščaršija,” which is the heart of Sarajevo. It is an important part of Sarajevo’s tourist attractions and features numerous structures built by Gazi Husrev Bey, including mosques, hans (caravanserais), and madrasas. In Baščaršija, the streets, hans, bezistans (covered markets), and mosques of the classical Ottoman bazaars coexist harmoniously.