After reading kuma's recent posts on her Balkan adventures I realized that I have some drafted posts of the summer visit to the Balkans myself. By the way, most of you are wondering who kuma is and why I keep repeating this word (I have two kumas :-)...). Well, I found a perfect explanation for you from an American expat living in Belgrade. Read it here! I enjoyed it so much!
|Džezva and fildžani in Baščaršija - Sarajevo's old bazaar|
Sarajevo is often referred to as the Jerusalem of Europe because Jews, Muslims, Catholic and Orthodox Christians have coexisted (well, most of the time) here for centuries. This is the place where Mosques, Synagogues, Catholic and Orthodox Churches stand for centuries just a couple of blocks apart from each other.
But first things first. Let's start from Baščaršija. If you have ever heard about Sarajevo you must know about Baščaršija. It is the historical and cultural part of the City, an old bazaar built in the 15th century by Isa-Bey Ishaković during the Ottoman rule of Bosnia. The word Baš (Turkish baş) literally means head or main and čaršija (Turkish çarşı) means market.
Baščaršija is the main artery of the city, always full of tourists and Sarajevans, with a lot of vivid craft and antique shops and authentic coffee places and restaurants. Some of the characteristic landmarks of Baščaršija are Gazi-Husrev Beg Mosque, Tower Clock (Sahat kula), the wooden Sebil fountain and of course the famous Ćevabdžinica Željo. If you find yourself in the Balkans you should definitely try ćevapi and burek and one of the best places to do so is definitely Ćevabdžinica Željo.
|Sarajevo's old bazaar Baščaršija - the historical center of the City|
|Baščaršija shop - old town Sarajevo|
|Wooden pseudo-Moorish Sebil in Baščaršija - a public water fountain|
A short walk from Baščaršija you will find the spot where the event that triggered WWI happened on June 28th 1914. Or at least one of the events. Of course I am talking about the assassination of Austro-Hungarian archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip. You can read an article on the BBC website where 10 leading historians give their opinion about the outbreak of WWI when we are nearing the 100th anniversary.
At the same spot there is a museum with a permanent exhibition "Sarajevo 1878 - 1918" where you can learn more about the resistance to the occupation by Austro-Hungary, the assassination and more.
As you can see on the pictures of Sarajevo the influence of both Empires (Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian) is more than obvious. The picture below can be rightfully mistaken for a picture from Prague or Vienna.
Another common thing with Prague are trams of course which I really love. They give the city some special charm.
The buildings in the following picture, however, reflect yet another episode in the Balkan history: communism, of course :-).
To brighten up the Communist style building in the background there is a Bridge called Festina Lente in Latin or "Make Haste Slowly" in English (Požuri polako) constructed in 2012 by three students of the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo.
As I already mentioned, Sarajevo is considered the Jerusalem of the Balkans, extremely rich historically and architecturally. Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque is one of the world's best pieces of Ottoman Architecture. It was built in the 16th century by the same Ottoman architect who also constructed Yavuz Selim Mosque in Istanbul. Below is the beautiful fountain in the courtyard of the mosque.
|Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque|
I am not sure if it was for the perfect August day or the fact that Sarajevo is so photogenic but I had a hard time picking just a few pictures for my post. The two pictures below are of the Ali Pasha Mosque also built in the classical Istanbul style.
|Ali Pasha Mosque|
The Old Orthodox Church of St. Archangel Mikhail and Gabriel is a small little green oasis close to the vivid Baščaršija. It is hard to believe that the quiet gardens of this ancient temple are in the city center. There are different references to when the church was built. Some believe it was built in the 4th or 5th century. Others believe it was later, either in the 12th to 14th century or in the 15th to 16th century. In any case the museum of the Old Orthodox Church is one of the oldest museums in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It holds valuable old manuscripts, icons and paintings.
In the Old Town District you can also see a neo-Gothic Catholic Cathedral, one of the biggest in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Cathedral of Jesus Sacred Heart.
Sarajevo is also home to Haggadah, a Jewish ceremonial book that is 7 centuries old. The Sarajevo Haggadah arrived to Bosnia in 1492 after the Jewish expulsion from Spain. It is believed to be a wedding gift to a young couple in Barcelona, Spain. After the expulsion from Spain, the book was brought to Italy and then to Bosnia, where it was eventually sold to the National Museum in 1894. The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina is unfortunately closed for over a year due to lack of funds and excess of incompetence of the Bosnian government. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art asked in November 2012 for the Haggadah to be exhibited in NY for 3 years. The Bosnian National Monuments Preservation Commission rejected the offer to put pressure on the government to save the National Museum. Meanwhile, the Haggadah is locked.
To finish on a high tone, I really want to believe that in spite of all the troubles that affected Bosnia recently (the bloody 90s and the recent social unrest caused by an unemployment rate of 44.55%), Bosnians will find a way to channel the well known Balkan stubbornness in the most constructive possible way.
Here is the interesting story of a well known Spite House in Sarajevo, today a traditional Bosnian restaurant.
|The Spite House (Inat kuća)|