SARAJEVO CABLE CAR
It is known locally as the Trebevic cable car as it connects this mountain with the historic center of the city. It was inaugurated on May 3, 1959 with the intention of creating a recreation and leisure area for both the inhabitants of the city and its visitors with spectacular views of the historic center during the journey. Its history is full of controversial repairs, the most necessary one being carried out just before the 1984 Winter Olympics, since it was one of the means of transport to access part of the facilities. At the end of 1989, further repairs were prohibited and was abandoned as deterioration had increased until its near destruction during the war of 1992-1995.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the first restorations of different symbols of the city began, with the cable car almost 20 years later. It was reopened on April 6, 2018, and has 33 mainly glass gondolas to be able to contemplate the panoramic view, 5 of them with the colors of the Olympic rings; blue, red, yellow, green and black that reflect the unity and multi-ethnicity of Sarajevo, another with the colors of the flag of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the rest in black. They can carry 1,200 passengers per hour on a journey that takes 9 minutes through roughly 2 kilometers and an elevation that will take us from 580 meters to rise to 1,190 meters high.
Its reopening was so desired that even the well-known local band Ambasadori composed a song for such an event “Trebevic opet silazi u grad” (Trebevic is Coming to Town Again). Once up there, you can see what remains of the facilities of the 1984 Winter Olympics, mainly the Bobseleigh track, with very striking graffiti decorating. These old facilities, for various reasons, mainly war, have been abandoned and now within these years of peace and reconstruction, we can enjoy it as a different piece of the city´s history, although not in use.
To get there we must cross the river through the bridge that we find in front of the Town Hall, from there we cross the park and take Sahinagic Street.
10 euros round trip.
Hours from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.
Address: Hrvatin bb
CEVAPI, THE BALKAN BURGER
We can find it written in different ways Cevapi, Cevapci, Cevapcici…. But what is a Cevapi? It is a traditionally minced lamb and beef dish seasoned with onion, garlic, parsley, paprika, pepper and salt. Each cevapi has the shape and size of a thumb, which is why foreigners often call them "false sausages or elongated meatballs". They are made on the grill and are usually served in portions of 5 or 7 units. They are accompanied by a very spongy circular flatbread called lepinja which is grilled along with the cevapi to make it tastier; we can eat it as it is, but in Bosnia it is typical to add kaymak, which is a sour cheese that, in addition to giving it a spectacular flavor, helps to digest this caloric dish... In other places in the Balkans, it is easy to find them, although the most famous and typical are the Bosnians as they accompany it with pieces of raw onion and ajvar, which is a sauce of aubergines and peppers.
Bosnians sometimes skip the delicious kaymak and savor it while sipping tart liquid yoghurt, and those with a sweet tooth include everything….
Its origin dates back to the Middle Ages when the Ottoman Empire arrived in these lands bringing with them this recipe that apparently came from ancient Persia, which is why in all the Balkans we find different versions of it. It is worth highlighting the use of pork in countries where there is not a large Muslim community such as Croatia or Slovenia. Here in Bosnia, it will be unusual to find them made of pork as it would greatly limit the sale of the product to the merchant.
We said that the Bosnians were the most famous and more specifically, those who sell in the Bascarsija (Central Market), an area of Sarajevo acclaimed by locals and visitors. The menu of these establishments is quite limited, most advertise their products on a sign next to the counter. In them, we will surely find another dish called Pljeskavica written, which is nothing more than the same mixture of meat with spices but in this case, in a circular shape, that is, like a regular hamburger while retaining all the senses of typical Bosnian cuisine.
They are all very simple, pleasant, devoid of decoration, so we will look for a table that allows us to see the life of merchants and opportunity seekers in Bacarsija (Central Market).
Address: Bašcaršija 1
BASCARSIJA… in Turkish, CENTRAL MARKET
The Ottoman nobleman Isa-Beg Isakovic, founder of the city, ordered the construction of this market at the end of the 15th century with the intention of offering a commercial area to the increasingly numerous population that settled along the Mikjacka River to make their new project more useful. In turn, he built a bridge, "Careva Cupria", which would facilitate access to the market for the citizens who lived on the other side of the river. In just two centuries, it became one of the economic benchmarks in the Balkans, attracting artisans from faraway places, so much so that they had to reorganize it by creating a series of sectors in which merchants settled according to their specialties. Although it did not have a long history since earthquakes, fires and looting caused the place to lose its position and it would end up being a more of a local market, destined for its population. It is believed that its current size is barely 40% of what it once was.
Few artisans are still active, much less locals that sell authentic crafts, and make no mistake, many objects come from Turkey or other countries in the area, but that does not take away from its charm. A place that can take us back in time is next to the Bascarsija Mosque where Kazandziluk Street begins, known as "street of the artisans". Their well-polished copper objects intermingle with some striking more globalized souvenirs or bullet casings from the last war in the 90s.
Another interesting point is the Bezistan (covered bazaar), which is found starting from the aforementioned Mosque on Saraci Street just after passing the clock tower on our left, where the decorative objects mainly of Ottoman origin continue. Walk through this bazaar, it will remind us of any Turkish bazaar.
The area is mainly intended for tourism with its cafes, restaurants and shops, but a large number of locals can be seen as we have mosques, bathrooms and other services that those who live in the nearby neighborhood that goes towards the mountain need. This practically Muslim neighborhood does not seem to have changed its customs in centuries since it is purely residential and forces its inhabitants to "go down to the Bascarsija" to make their purchases.
Address: Bašcaršija 1
WHERE THE END OF EMPIRE BEGIN
It is far from being a beautiful place on our visit to the city, neither the buildings nor the street would attract our attention, but there is no doubt that we are facing one of the places that have marked the history of the continent.
We are going to head towards Latinska Cuprija (Latin Bridge), it is located behind the covered market, towards the Miljacka River, without crossing it. On that corner is the "Museum 1878-1918", which presents the history of Austro-Hungarian rule, and a stone plaque on which is written: “In this place on June 28, 1914, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was assassinated:
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Duchess Sofia Chotek”. We will see that it is flanked by a photographic exhibition of the event and an account of it.
This assassination is considered to be the beginning of the First World War, not the event itself, but as the trigger for a situation of high tension that existed in Europe at the time, where the erosion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the power struggles in the Balkan area, as well as international tensions over the distribution of colonies in Africa by the great European powers, led the continent to the so-called Great War between two blocks; the allies formed mainly by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the German Empire, Ottoman Empire and Kingdom of Bulgaria against France, British Empire, Serbia, Russia, Italy and Belgium, plus the countries that supported them such as the United States, Greece, Romania or Portugal.
At that time there was a revolutionary group called Young Bosnia whose main objective was to free the region of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in order to form, together with Serbia, a Yugoslav national state. Six militants from this group organized the assassination taking advantage of the Archduke´s visit to the city. Their objective was to throw a grenade at the car as the procession passed by, but they failed and Franz Ferdinand and his wife escaped unharmed and took refuge in the town hall. Although several citizens were injured by the bomb, this made the archdukes want to visit them at the hospital where they were transferred.
Due to a mistake on the route, the procession passed by one of the 6 militants who fled after the explosion, unforeseen. Gavrilo Princip, a 19-year-old Bosnian, took out his pistol from his pocket and shot the archdukes, causing their death. Afterwards, he tried to commit suicide but the people around him prevented him from doing so and handed him over to the authorities. The Austro-Hungarian Empire accused Serbia of being behind the attack and after intentionally setting impossible conditions, under the threat of war, on July 28, exactly one month later, they declared war on Serbia.
Russia comes to the aid of its ally and after this intervention, Germany entered to support the Austro-Hungarian Empire and after this, France, Belgium… British Kingdom entered.
Little could this group of revolutionaries imagine how they were going to change the history of the continent.
Address: Zelenih bertki 30
THE OLDEST ORTHODOX CHURCH
The church is dedicated to the archangels Michael and Gabriel. Its current structure dates from the 16th century, although it is believed that it was built on top of an existing one that could be original from the 5th century, which is why in 2006, it was declared a National Historic Monument. The complex consists, in addition to the church itself, a cloister-courtyard, a museum and the parish house.
In its museum we can find one of the most complete collections of Orthodox sacred art that contains more than 140 icons ranging from the 13th to the 19th centuries, as well as liturgical manuscripts and other decorative artistic objects.
Made out of stone, its sober exterior contrasts with an interior decoration where we highlight, flanked by two enormous chandeliers, a golden iconostasis from the end of the 17th century. Do not forget to observe the painted ceiling that represents the starry night sky.
Its cloister-patio surrounds the church and through a covered gallery we can access the area set up as a museum.
All the buildings in the complex are from a similar period, although its construction spans more than 100 years, except for its bell tower, which was built in the second half of the 19th century. Although today its location can be considered as the historic center of Sarajevo, at the time of its construction, being on the outer edge of the old quarter was due to the fact that at the time of the Ottoman Empire, although professing religion was not prohibited unlike Islam, these places of worship were not in the "urban area" of the city.
The temple was built under the Patriarchate of the Serbian Orthodox Church, to which the Bosnian Orthodox Church is still linked today, although its close relationship with Serbian independence movements caused the Ottomans to dissolve it for the second time in 1766, having to wait a century to emerge from it again.
Its museum can be visited from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. generally and its price is 3 BAM (2 euros approx.)
The church can be visited, during worship, at the discretion of the person in charge of the door. It is visited in silence and with appropriate clothing, and also in the case of women with their heads covered.
Address: Mula Mustafe Baseskije 59
BOSNIAN COFFEE, BOSANSKA KAFA, THE SWEETEST COFFEE
Perhaps this is why it would be quite a challenge, even more so for those of us who are not used to sweetening this drink a lot, but to drink an authentic Bosnian coffee, we must meet this requirement because it will be this detail that will make it stand out from other coffees, mainly from “Turkish coffee” especially since it was the Turks who brought coffee to this part of the continent and made its consumption a custom. It must be admitted that in recent times machine-made coffee and a huge range of tastes, flavors and smells have prevailed, but the essence of sitting down to drink a coffee as part of everyday life, not once but several times a day, remains for centuries throughout the Balkan area.
To take the "Bosanska Kafa" it is essential to know how to choose the right place. Although it is served in any cafeteria in the city, it will be in the cafes of the old quarter where we will find the elaboration in the traditional way made with the “dzezva” which is a small elongated copper pot with a straight handle on top. A teaspoon of coffee per person is poured into it plus another additional, boiling water is added and this mixture is brought to a boil.
The dzezva is removed from the heat when the foam begins to rise. We repeat the operation for the second time and after removing it from the heat again, we add a little cold water to lower the coffee grounds or “to erase”.
The coffee is served unfiltered, so the “debris” goes to the bottom of the cup and since it stays there, we are not going to move it.
How do we sweeten the coffee? Why didn´t we add sugar before serving it? This is where each one measures their level of sweetness. Together with the coffee they will bring us sugar cubes and a candy or square candy with ground sugar. With the spoon or the tips of the fingers we submerge a lump of sugar for a few seconds and then we bite a wet piece and leave it in the mouth, without swallowing it, so as we sip the coffee it will sweeten. There are those who retain the whole sugar cube throughout the process and those who give it small bites, and if that is not sweet enough, we can accompany it with the sweets that have also been served along with the coffee.
And keep in mind that authentic Bosnian coffee is not drunk with milk, only coffee and sugar.
CITY COUNCIL THE “PHOENIX” OF SARAJEVO
This building built by the Austro-Hungarians in 1896 was one of the symbols of their time in the city due to its original triangular design and the use of striped neo-Mudejar style with the idea of reflecting the historical Ottoman influence.
It was built with the aim of being the seat of the Vejecnica local government (city hall) which was its use until 1949, when it became the National Library until 1992, after receiving a direct mortar attack from Serbian batteries that besieged Sarajevo. Burning for 3 days, more than 2 million books and documents were lost, including about 1000 of high historical value. Barely 10% could be saved in the first rescue attempt from the residents of the area, but as soon as the flames began to make it impossible to approach the building, they had to give up the rescue.
After its destruction, to publicize the disaster and activate an international response, cellist Vedran Smailovic, who was part of the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, performed Albinoni´s Adagio for 22 days in a row.
In 2014, after its restoration, it was reopened as the National Library. Although the books that were saved have not been restored, its real use today is as an exhibition hall, museum, halls for council meetings, official receptions and artistic exhibitions. In its basement we find an exhibition with an extraordinary retrospective that covers the history of the city from 1914 to 2014.
In 2018, the Information Office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia decided to exhibit in this place the original courtroom that was transferred here from The Hague (The Netherlands), thus leaving this episode at the end of the 20th century for historical memory.
Address: Obala Kulina bana
…. BETWEEN TWO EMPIRE AND FOUR RELIGIONS
This tour will take us through the essential places to appreciate the multiculturalism that Sarajevo boasts. If we intend to visit any of the temples, we must take into account the dress code.
We will start with the oldest area, that of the Ottoman Empire. We will start from the splendid Sebilj, the Bascarsija wooden fountain. There among cafes and shops we see in front of us the Bascarsija Mosque. In front of it we have a tourist information post and that is where the well-known Saraci street begins, the main street of Barcarsija. It is a continuation of bustling life between cafes and shops, to our left the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque from the XVI century will appear. Its beautiful patio and its 45-meter minaret stand out. This temple can be visited as well as the opposite building, the Gazi Husrev-beg Museum, which was the old Madrasa (school of Muslim theology). Both buildings were designed by the Ottoman governor Gazi Husrev-beg who has gone down in history as the great urban promoter of the Ottoman era.
Observing the minaret of the mosque, a square brick tower with windows will catch our attention known as the Clock Tower, originally from the 17th century but rebuilt countless times. Its clock was commissioned in London by the merchants of the city in the 19th century. Leaving the well-known Bezistan covered market on our left, if we look at the ground, we will find a compass drawn on it that marks us west (W) and east (E) and that has the writing "Sarajevo Meeting of Cultures". This intersection is where the street will be called Ferhadija and urban planning will change introducing us to the Sarajevo of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (late nineteenth century early twentieth century). To the right of this compass there is a small alley that would take us to the Old Synagogue, today known as the Bosnian Jewish Museum. It only opens for worship on the most significant occasions. It was founded by Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 who were welcomed in different parts of the Balkans.
Continuing through Ferhadija, we will find on our right the Neo-Gothic style Sacred Heart Catholic Cathedral built by the Austro-Hungarians in 1887. Right next to it there is a museum “Galerija 07/11/95” that would be interesting to visit if you are curious about the massacre Srebrenica.
A little further on, a square “Trg oslobodenja Alija Izetbegovic” opens up. To the left of it we find the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God, the main Orthodox Christian temple, in neo-baroque style, built in 1868 by the Serbian Orthodox community of the city.
This tour of just 30 minutes shows us the essence not only of Sarajevo, but of much of the Western Balkans. When doing this tour, we can combine it with other "tips" proposed such as the Central Bazaar or the challenge of drinking Bosnian Coffee.
PURE BALKAN ESSENCE
There is nothing more common than sitting down to have a coffee, watch life go by, and reflect in impromptu chats with any acquaintance or stranger about everyday life.
At the first moment of setting foot in the Balkans we will see the number of cafes that exist and the amount of time that the inhabitants of the different cities dedicate to this custom brought centuries ago by the Ottomans.
To be part of this experience we are going to choose one of the many cafes that are in Bascarsija Square. This place is the door to the old Ottoman neighborhood, there is no door itself, but it is the place where the convoys of merchants arrived when they headed to the great bazaar in Sarajevo.
Up to this point, today, it is the place that can be reached by motor vehicle. On the other side of the street, we see loading and unloading areas, and public transport stops.
From here towards the mountain extends the oldest Muslim residential neighborhood in the city.
Between the roofs, we can distinguish the different minarets that dot the skyline of this place known as Vratnik.
But let´s focus on the life of the square where tourists mix with the faithful who go to the mosque to pray... where the smell of Cevapi whets our appetite while we blind ourselves with the Bosnian sweets that are displayed in the pastry shop windows traditional. In the mornings, the porters of merchandise in hand-drawn carts run from one side to the other carrying the products to the shops from the unloading area of the square with an accelerated pace that collides with the calm and leisurely gaze of those who are sitting on the terrace of the cafe attentive to the daily spectacle that they have in front of them. This includes, in addition to the ups and downs of the market, the people who come to feed the pigeons that crowd around the fountain. The square is of course, also known as Square of the Pigeons.
Five times a day, the Adhan (the call to prayer) bursts into the atmosphere of the place. If we have chosen a cafe near the mosque, we will be spectators of the faithful in one of their most intimate moments. Before leaving the square, we cannot stop going to drink at the fountain (Sebilj) to fulfill the tradition that brings us back to Sarajevo.
Address: Bašcaršija 1
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