Sarajevo: travel Information and Pictures


Sarajevo is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The River Miljacka runs through the city, which is considered one of the most important cities in the Balkans, and which has had a long and rich history ever since it was founded by the Ottomans in 1461.

In the event that triggered World War I, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914, Serbia’s National Day. To Serbia’s anger, Austria-Hungary had annexed the province of Bosnia in 1908, and a group of seven young Bosnian Serbs planned to assassinate the Archduke as he drove into Sarajevo to inspect the army. The first attempt that morning failed when the bomb missed its target, but when the Archduke abandoned the visit, his driver turned the car round in Franz Josef Street just as 19 year old student Gavrilo Princip was passing by on his way home, thinking the conspiracy had failed. Princip used his gun to kill both the Archduke and his wife, Sophie. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and its government, with the support of Germany, decided to punish Serbia, leading eventually to the First World War. Today the Museum of the Assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo (by Latin Bridge, open Monday to Saturday at 10am) records the events that led to world war.

The peak of city growth occurred in the early 1980s, when Sarajevo, then in Yugoslavia, hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics. Highlights of the XIV Winter Olympics were: Yugoslavia’s first ever medal for skiing won by Jure Franko; East Germany won 9 out of the 12 medals for women’s speed skating; Britain’s Torvill and Dean achieved perfect scores for artistic impression in ice dancing; and Lamine Guèye of Senegal became the first black African skier to compete in the Winter Olympics.

In the early 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, a civil war between nationalist governments broke out in the former Yugoslavia. Sarajevo was besieged by the Serbian army for 1,425 days, during which it was fired on from the surrounding hills. 70,000 Bosnian defence forces inside the city were unable to end the siege, and it is estimated that up to 14,000 soldiers and civilians were killed, and nearly a quarter of the buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged by the 330 shells a day that landed on the city. Most buildings have now been restored. The Tunnel Museum (open Mon – Fri
09.00-18.00, and 10.00 to 16.00 Sat and Sun) shows how the population resisted the siege by using a tunnel under the airport runway to bring in supplies.

Sarajevo today is a multi-cultural city with a mostly harmonious mix of cultures and religions. The Oriental Quarter in the Old Town (Baščaršija) is an area of mosques, cafes and craft shops, and the city’s architecture shows its Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian history. Gazi Husref-bey’s Mosque was built by a Bosnian governor in 1530. Sarajevo Cathedral is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic, completed in 1889. There is also an Orthodox Cathedral and the Emperor’s Mosque, as well as The Old Jewish Temple.

The Town Hall, completed in 1896, is the most impressive example of a Moorish-style building from the Austro-Hungarian period. Other sights to see are the Botanical Gardens and Museum in the city centre; Latin Bridge (the site of the assassination in 1914); and Svrzo’s House, a preserved traditional house which is part of the museum (opens at 10.00, closed Sundays). For an excursion out of town there is a 98 metres high waterfall at Skakavac, 12km north of the city; the five glacial lakes on the mountain of Treskavica; and the Bijambare Cave and nearby lake, river, watermill and pine forest.

Where to stay in Sarajevo
A 5 star hotel in the city centre close to the Latin Bridge is the Hotel Europe. It has a swimming pool and gym, and its 170 rooms have free WiFi. If you didn’t bring your own computer, the Business Centre offers free internet access.
The Hotel Old Town (3 star) is right in the centre but is a new hotel with 15 rooms. The friendly staff will help you with your tourist enquiries, and there is parking available. Another central 3 star hotel is the Hotel Art – a modern building surrounded by Ottoman architecture. It has 28 rooms with safes and satellite TV, and a cocktail bar and restaurant.
Sarajevo is well stocked with hostel accommodation too, such as Hostel For Me in the lively Baščaršija quarter, with dormitory accommodation and a fully equipped kitchen. Hostel Franz Ferdinand offers rooms themed around the 1914 assassination, and the charge includes breakfast and towels.
There are also plenty of apartments to rent in Sarajevo, of all sizes and price ranges- worth considering if you are in a small group.

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