Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a fast-growing sector making up an important part in the economy of the country.
Sarajevo, the capital of mountain-rugged Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a charming city reflecting perfect symbiosis of the past and the modern, a bridge between the East and the West. The city itself was established in the 15th century, but dates back to the Neolithic period and ever since it has symbolized the melting pot of various cultures and religions. Indeed, along only a street you will come across a mosque, a synagogue, an orthodox and a catholic church. But the blend continues to more than sacral monuments and the city arrests Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Socialist and other architectural styles. Sarajevo did become a symbol of the coexistence of communities from different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds.
This is a place where World War I commenced with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the Austro-Hungarian hair to the throne, his wife Sophie and their unborn child on June 28th, 1914. Hence, Sarajevo will host the 100th anniversary of this historical event and will feature European Bridge of Culture in 2014.
This is a first socialist country to host the Winter Olympic Games. The natural resources of the surrounding mountains - Jahorina, Bjelasnica, Igman and Trebevic, as well as the hospitality and sports spirit of Sarajevans helped the city break a record by presenting the largest Winter Olympic Games of its time. This triumphal event featured 49 nations and over a thousand participants. Sarajevo was awarded the gold medal for the organization due to the hospitality of people.
The cultural and Olympic spirit of the city was shaken by the longest city siege in the history of modern warfare – 1452 day long siege of the 1992 – 1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city however survived and continues to grow and rebuilds itself to once again symbolize the city of different cultures, the city of sports and festivals, the city of friendship and hope.
Before the arrival of the Ottomans in the largest settlement on Sarajevo field was the village square Tornik, which was located at the crossroad of the roads where today is the Ali Pasha's Mosque. Baščaršija was built in 1462 when Isa-Beg Isaković built the Ishaković han, in addition to its many shops.
Around the main entrance, the Bazerdžani čaršija was formed. The čaršija Kazaz is situated to the west, and to the north sit both the čaršija Sedlar and Sarača. The most significant buildings constructed during this period were mosques. Baščaršija's famous mosque was built by Havedža Durak in 1528, and Gazi Husrev-beg built his mosque in 1530.
Gazi Husrev-Beg raises a madrassa, a library, a haniqah, the Gazi Husrev-Beg Hamam, the Gazi Husrev-Beg bezistan, the Morića Han, sahat-kula and other tourist attractions in Baščaršija. Gazi Husrev-Beg was buried in the harem of his mosque, beside the harem is the Türbe of his freed slave and the first mutevelija of his vakuf, Murat-beg Tardić.
Along with Islamic places of worship erected at that time, Baščaršija is also the location of the Old Orthodox Church, built sometimes during 16th century and first mentioned in Ottoman sources from 1539, and also the first Sephardi temple, called Old Synagogue which is built between 1581-87. Just next to the Old Synagogue (Bosnian: Stari Hram = Old Temple) some time later was built New Synagogue (Bosnian: Novi Hram = New Temple).
Today the Jewish community uses the more recently erected synagogue just across the Miljacka river, while both Old and New synagogue buildings are used as Jewish cultural centers. The New Synagogue was donated by the Jewish community to the city of Sarajevo and serves as a gallery called Novi Hram. The Old Synagogue building was turned into the Jewish Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is considered to be one of the finest exhibition spaces in the former Yugoslavia.
Old Orthodox Church in Sarajevo, 16th century.
The Old Synagogue, today the Jewish Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was the first Sephardi temple in Sarajevo, built between 1581-87.
During the 16th century a number of commercial facilities was built, such as bezistans, hans, and caravanserais. Sarajevo was an important center of trade in the Balkans and had three bezistans (today the Gazi Husrev-Beg and Brusa bezistans are still standing). There were colonies of Venetian and Ragusan traders, and Baščaršija had approximately 12,000 commercial and craft shops.
After the earthquake in 1640 and several fires in 1644 and 1656, Sarajevo was 1697 burned and devastated by the troops of Prince Eugene of Savoy. Travel writer Evliya Çelebi wrote:
"The čaršija has in everything, one thousand and eighty stores that are a model of beauty. The čaršija is very attractive and built according to plan."
The city of Sarajevo didn't expand significantly until the 19th century. With the Austro-Hungarian occupation in 1878, foreign architects wanted to re-build Sarajevo into a modern European city. A fire contributed to this process, destroying parts of the Stari Grad.
During the anti-Serb riots of Sarajevo in June 1914, violent mobs looted and vandalized several Serb-owned shops in Baščaršija as well as other parts of the city.
Aftermath of the Anti-Serb riots in Sarajevo, June 1914.
With the liberation of Sarajevo in 1945 after the Second World War, a committee decided that the market should be gradually demolished, believing that it had no role in a modern city. However, the plans were cancelled, and the buildings were left standing.