Capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo is the country’s administrative, economic, cultural, university and sports center.
Population – City Sarajevo: 300,000 (2008 est.)
Ethnic Composition and Religion – Bosniaks, Croats, Serbs, Jews, Roma and other ethnic groups live in Sarajevo. The religions represented are Catholicism, Christian Orthodoxy, Islam, and Judaism.
Territory Area of Sarajevo: 141,5 km2
Territorial Position – Situated in the area called Sarajevo Field, Sarajevo is surrounded by the Olympic mountains. The average altitude of the urban center of Sarajevo is 500 m.
Time Zone – Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sarajevo are located in Central European Time Zone (GMT +1).
Climate – Sarajevo has a mild continental climate. The average summer temperature is 19.1 oC (66 F), and winter is – 1.3 oC (30 F). Average yearly temperature is 9.5 oC (49 F.)
The electricity supply is 220V with 50Hz frequency.
Water Supply It is safe to drink tap water in Sarajevo.
Currency in B&H is Convertible Mark. The international abbreviation for currency is BAM while KM is used locally. (1.95 KM = 1 €.) You may exchange your currency in any bank, post office or currency exchange offices.
Country code: +387
Area code: 033
Zip code:: 71000
Holidays, when all public institutions, banks, and post offices are closed in Sarajevo, are:
- January 1 and 2 – New Year
- March 1 – Independence Day
- May 1 and 2 – International Labor Day
- November 25 – National Holiday
Some public institutions, post offices and banks, as well as some shops and services are closed during religious holidays.
Spirit of Sarajevo
A few places on earth feature an Orthodox and a Catholic church, a mosque and a synagogue within easy walking distance of each other. If there were any cities in Europe that effortlessly straddles east and west, it is Sarajevo. Here the Byzantine and Ottoman empires of the east and the Roman, Venetian, and Austro-Hungarian empires of the west left an indelible mark through culture, traditions, and religions. A walk through Sarajevo is like a walk through it’s past. In Sarajevo, people have time for family and friends. It is often said that a man’s wealth here is not measured in his material belongings but rather in his friendships. All of that is adding to the Sarajevo image of being the “European Jerusalem”.
Baščaršija (Bashcharshiya) is the heart of old Sarajevo. Each street in Baščaršija is dedicated to another craft, the most interesting being the traditional metalwork, jewelry, and pottery shops. One of the oldest streets in Baščaršija is the Kazandžiluk street (Coppersmith street), which was once a part of a larger copper craft guild and today is the place to buy a traditional souvenir, copper products decorated using special techniques passed down through generations. Should you ever become thirsty amidst Baščaršija there is a public fountain named Sebilj. The water in Sarajevo is cool, tasty, and perfectly safe for drinking. While in Baščaršija you will notice a lot of aščinicas, buregdžinicas, and ćevabžinicas which are connected with another long tradition; they are a sort of a fast-food restaurants of Bosnia and Herzegovina serving excellent traditional meals, a must-have, the very reason there is no McDonald’s in Sarajevo. Sweets lovers should note that Bosnian sweets tend to be really sweet and one would require several glasses of water to eat one of the baklava’s, tufahija’s, or tulumba’s at any of the Baščaršija’s many cake shops.
Inat Kuća (Despite House; House of Spite; House of Pride) is a restaurant in an old ottoman-style house across the river from the City hall. The story behind the restaurant is that a stubborn owner refused to sell his house to the authorities who wanted to pull it down for the building of the City hall. The menu of the restaurants tells the story: “Tsar in Vienna is mighty and great. He deserves all my respect but he doesn’t have money to pay me for my delight.” Eventually the authorities met the demands of the owner and he was payed a sack of gold whilst the house was rebuilt brick by brick on the opposite bank of the river on the place where it stands today.
The Svrzo house is located on the Glođina street and represents an authentic Bosnian nobleman’s (bey) house from the 18th century. It was built during the Ottoman Period and it symbolizes the life of a man from this region. It is a very comfortable house, which kept the life of a family man secret. The house is comprised of separate quarters for men, women and servants, as well as courtyards and gardens. Today, the Svrzo house is open for visitors and represents the Museum of Bosnian Architecture before the Europeanization of the region.
Gazi Husrev-bey’s mosque (1530/31) is the most significant Islamic building in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Gazi Husrev-beg’s mosque including the fountain (šadrvan), Moslem primary school (mekteb), the room for ritual washing (abdesthana), domed burial sites (turbeti), Gazi Husrev-beg’s and Murad-beg Tardić’s harem, abode for the prayer caller (muvekithana), minaret 45 m high and tower-clock, dominates the market-place and makes its central and largest complex.
Gazi Husrev-Bey’s Bezistan was built in the first half of the 16th century. Rectangular in shape, Bezistan has a 109 meters passage running through its middle. The Bezistan is 19,5 m wide, with 52 shops. In its shape and size, Bezistan reminds of Istanbul’s Misir čaršija and covered bazaars found in Arabic cities. Today Gazi Husrev Bey’s Bezistan is called “Dugi Bezistan” in Sarajevo (Long market place) and it serves as a market place.
Cathedral of Jesus’ Sacred Heart stands on a small square down the Ferhadija street just outside Baščaršija, old Ottoman bazaar area of the city. The cathedral was built in 1889, according to the design of Josip Vancaš, in the new Gothic architecture style with new Romanesque elements. It is similar to the cathedral Notre Dame in Dijon.
Sarajevo bridges are a wonderful addition to the panorama view on the Miljacka river that runs through the very center of Sarajevo. For one bridge in Sarajevo one could say it was infamous, the Latin bridge being the place where Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife on June 28, 1914 which set off a chain of events that led to the outbreak of the World War I.
Sarajevo City Hall Sarajevo known as Vijećnica, is located in the city of Sarajevo. It was designed in 1891 by the Czech architect Karel Pařík, but criticisms by the minister, Baron Benjamin Kallay. It was initially the largest and most representative building of the Austro-Hungarian period in Sarajevo and served as the city hall.
On 25 August 1992, Serbian shelling during the Siege of Sarajevo caused the complete destruction of the library; among the losses were about 700 manuscripts and incunabula and a unique collection of Bosnian serial publications, some from the middle of the 19th-century Bosnian cultural revival. Before the attack, the library held 1.5 million volumes and over 155,000 rare books and manuscripts. Some citizens and librarians tried to save some books while they were under sniper fire, at least one person died.
The building was reopened on May 9, 2014. Everything that was possible to restore has been done so, while those things that were not possible to save have been made anew through special molds. The whole reconstruction and restore process was predicted to cost about KM 25 million (about €13 million).
14th Olympic games were held in Sarajevo in 1984. Even then Sarajevo was a modern city with about 500.000 citizens. Every year city on the Miljacka river is a host to a numerous festivals with international character, most famous are: Sarajevo film festival, Sarajevo jazz festival, Baščaršijske noći summer cultural festival, MESS, and many more.
The unique mixture of Western and Eastern styles, the way of life, and the pleasent and good natured people is what gives Sarajevo its unique feel and that is why many people refer to Sarajevo as the city with a Soul.
Visitors beware: There is something irresistible about Sarajevo that might entice you to stay longer than planned.