Walking Tour of Sarajevo
In recent history, Sarajevo is a city with so much historical importance. From the more recent Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s to the starting point of World War I, Sarajevo is well-known for it’s horrors. These days the city of Sarajevo is a flurry of new activity- young professionals thriving, businesses opening, healing the wounds of generations past.
The best way to learn about a city you have never been to is to talk to the locals. The cheapest way is usually with a free walking tour led by locals. On a pretty but rainy day, I met up with my free walking tour in front of the Cathedral of Jesus Sacred Heart and meandered around the city in our rain jackets and under umbrellas. Because of the rain, the group was pretty small (a good thing for hearing purposes).
Our guides led us around Sarajevo’s streets pointing out significant places in history, architecture, and telling stories about life in the 1990s in Sarajevo and the fest of Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Yugoslav Wars. It was a sobering few hours.
Multicultural Man Builds the World statue in Liberation Square:
Older gentlemen playing giant chess in the park, Sarajevo is just like a lot of other big cities, except there is only giant chess sets here!
Every once in a while you would see masses of people walking down the busy thoroughfare, abruptly stop and walk around certain places in the sidewalk. Our guide explained that the gap where no one would walk was the site of a massacre in the 1990s and they avoid walking there out of respect. Even though no monument exists at those spots, all know where it occurred and is sometimes marked by flowers left.
This is the Eternal Flame Memorial dedicated to those lives lost in WWII:
Along the Miljacka River is the Latin Bridge and the site where Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in 1914 marking the beginning of World War I.
A museum stands in the building where he was gunned down and a plague marking the spot.
Despite it’s gritty history, Sarajevo is on the upswing with plenty of shops, restaurants, and businesses lining the streets. I would like to say that I explored the food scene adventurously like I always do but this was the last stop on my almost month long trip to the Balkans and I was over eating all the grilled meats- a staple of Bosnian cuisine. I like meat but I had been eating an abundance for weeks now.
Instead I had the traditional stuffed grape leaves with yogurt and a beer for one meal and burek with yogurt for another. In every other Balkan country visited this trip, we dipped the burek in yogurt (if available). Here it was spread on top. It made the dish a lot less photogenic but still quite tasty.
Sarajevo is well-known for excellent drinking water. They have fountains all over the city for you to fill up your water bottles or just stop and have a drink. Clean and tasty drinking water for the win!
It was also Ramadan while I was in Sarajevo so the mosque in Old Town was hopping. All tourists are welcome to the courtyard to explore. It was pouring rain while I did my exploring but it was pretty.
Sarajevo is such an interesting place and is really inexpensive spot to explore for a few days. I ended up flying home to the US from Sarajevo (connecting in Munich) and was very glad I made the effort to get here at the end of my trip.
My entire Balkan trip was a big surprise in a good way. I had little expectations about the whole itinerary I made but ended up loving some of the places that I thought would be more pass-throughs like Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, and Macedonia. Someday I’ll be back!