What to see in Sarajevo, itinerary including the main monuments and places of interest, including the Grand Mosque, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Chessboard, Jewish cemetery and war tunnel.
Capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo extends between 530 and 560 m above sea level, along the course of the Miljacka river, a small tributary of the Bosna river.
The city is dominated by the Trebević Mountain, 1627 meters above sea level, the top of which can be reached via the historic Sarajevo cable car, inaugurated in 1959, destroyed during the 1992-95 war and reopened in 2018.
The ancient Ottoman center, full of mosques and cobbled lanes, the buildings of the Austro-Hungarian period, the Orthodox and Catholic cathedrals, in addition to the synagogues, testify the history of this interesting city, which has always been a melting pot of languages, cultures and religions, enough to be considered the Jerusalem of the Balkans.
Sarajevo had a real urban development in the fifteenth century, with the Ottoman domination, when in an area close to a first Christian settlement, called Gornja Varos, the imperial mosque was built and numerous monuments that constitute the first nucleus of Charsija, the charming neighborhood located on the southern bank of Miljacka, at the origin of the city.
The presence of Jews in Sarajevo dates back to the second half of the sixteenth century and settled there after being expelled from Spain.
The Jewish community, while remaining faithful to its traditions, integrated into the city life and, in the Charsija district, the oldest synagogue Veliki Hram was built, which today houses a small Jewish museum.
Therefore, already around the end of the sixteenth century, different ethnic groups and cultures coexisted in cities, despite the contrast that emerged during the civil war in Bosnia in the years 1992-95, when the city was subjected to a hard and bloody siege, remaining seriously damaged in the artistic heritage. and housing, with hundreds of victims among the civilian population.
From 1878 to 1918 Bosnia and Herzegovina was first administered and then annexed to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Sarajevo was chosen as the seat of government.
During an official visit to the city on June 28, 1914, close to the Latin Bridge, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, Archduke Francesco Ferdinando and his wife Sofia were killed, symbolic event of the beginning of the First World War.
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Among the oldest monuments of Ottoman architecture is the Careva Džamija, a large imperial mosque built in 1462 by the founder of the city of Sarajevo, Isa-beg Isaković, and rebuilt in its current form in 1566 by the sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
Other mosques date back to the sixteenth century, among these the beautiful Mosque of Gazi Husrev Beg stands out, a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture.
In the Bascarsija square, corresponding to the ancient Turkish quarter, there is the Sebilj fountain, one of the symbols of the city, a meeting point for the inhabitants of Sarajevo and for tourists.
In Neo-Gothic style is the Catholic Cathedral dedicated to the Sacred Heart.
The Orthodox Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel dates back to around 1539, which houses a precious iconostasis from 1674.
In front of the Orthodox Cathedral is the giant chessboard drawn on the pavement of the square, where chess fans move the large wooden pawns in silence.
The Town Hall, called the Vijećnica, is the most representative building of the Austro-Hungarian period, built in the neo-Moorish style.
Used first as a town hall and then from 1949 as a library, on 25 August 1992 it was destroyed by incendiary grenades.
The majority of the books and manuscripts kept in the Library burned, today only a part of the precious heritage has been recovered, viewable inside the building, rebuilt and reopened in 2014 as the seat of the Town Hall and the National Library.
To understand the drama suffered by the inhabitants of Sarajevo, during the siege of the years 1992-95, you can visit the numerous cemeteries, including the Jewish cemetery, and a part of the tunnel of the war, which was built under the area of the airport to connect the city, isolated by Serbian forces, with the rest of the territory.