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Sarajevo’s Baščaršija neighbourhood at dusk © fotokon, Shutterstock
Sarajevo is a city that feels like home. You won’t be overwhelmed by its size or massive buildings; rather you will be mesmerised by its quaint beauty, cafés teeming day and night with young and old, and the hospitality of a perfect stranger who invites you for a drink.
If there is one place in continental Europe that symbolises the crossroads between East and West, Sarajevo would have to be it. It is here that the Byzantine and Ottoman empires to the east and the empires of Rome, Venice and Vienna to the west brought their culture, traditions and religions. Only a few spots on earth can boast of hosting an Orthodox and a Catholic church, a mosque and a synagogue, all in the same square. This city, in particular, epitomises the centuries-old struggle against outside forces and the ability to assimilate all of these influences into one of the most diverse indigenous cultures in Europe. Whereas other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina may still be burdened with ethnic strife, this city’s long-standing tradition of multi-ethnicity enables it to thrive in its diversity. A walk through Sarajevo is a walk through the past.
From the oriental Ottoman-style quarters lined with sweet shops, cafés and handicraft workshops, to the administrative and cultural centre of Austro-Hungarian times, to the socialist-era housing blocks with their everyday neighbourhood feel, playgrounds and small businesses, Sarajevo encompasses a variety of worlds in one small valley. In Sarajevo people have time for family and friends. It is often said that a person’s wealth is not measured in their material belongings but rather in their friendships, and here they invest the time to nurture them.
Sarajevo is a city that feels like home. You won’t be overwhelmed by its size or massive buildings; rather you will be mesmerised by its quaint beauty, cafés teeming day and night with young and old, and the hospitality of a perfect stranger who invites you for a drink. The hills and mountains surrounding Sarajevo have always in a sense isolated the city, creating a whole world unto itself but which also kept its doors open to the rest of the world. Although Sarajevo is a capital city busy with the routines of everyday life and is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, there is a special energy here that gets into one’s soul.