Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its countryside is home to medieval villages, rivers and lakes, plus the craggy Dinaric Alps. National capital Sarajevo has a well preserved old quarter, Bašcaršija, with landmarks like 16th-century Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque. Ottoman-era Latin Bridge is the site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which ignited World War I.
Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a compact city on the Miljacka River, surrounded by the Dinaric Alps. Its center has museums commemorating local history, including Sarajevo 1878–1918, which covers the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an event that sparked World War I. Landmarks of the old quarter, Baščaršija, include the Ottoman-era Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque.
In addition to these two benefactors, some other regents and wealthy merchants contributed with their donations.
With rise of the Empire, the city progressed as well. Thus, Bascarsija was finished by the end of the 16th century, and the city soon after witnessed its golden age. Along with Istanbul, Thessaloniki, Edirne and Athens, it became one of the 5 largest cities in the Balkans, the city of trading and wealthy and powerful community.
The square spread into several trading and craftsmen alleys, it comprised 45 markets and over 80 crafts. Tiny cobbled alleys intertwined and spread towards mosques, inns, bedestans, hamams, schools and tekkes, fountains, caravanserai…
The first water supply system was built in the mid 15th century, and significantly extended in the 16th century. By the end of the Ottoman period, there were 156 spouts and several stone fountains built mainly as an endowment.
Sebilj Fountain is a symbol of Sarajevo. A legend says: “Whoever drinks water from any of Sarajevo’s fountains and spouts will come to Sarajevo”. The Sebilj Fountain was built in 1753.
It is central spot of the Bascarsija Square, which spreads into several trading and craftsmen alleys named after a particular craft hood. Looking from above, the Bascarsija Square is surrounded by residential communities with beautiful authentic houses and tiny gardens, as well as the business and cultural centre. Thus, Bascarsija, stands there as an open antique amphitheater with old alleys, quarters and houses scattered around.
The most visceral of Sarajevo’s many 1990s war-experience ‘attractions’, this unmissable museum’s centrepiece and raison d’être is a 25m section of the 1m wide, 1.6m high hand-dug tunnel under the airport runway. That acted as the city’s lifeline to the outside world during the 1992–95 siege, when Sarajevo was virtually surrounded by hostile Serb forces.
During the siege this area of Butmir was the last Bosniak-held part of the city still linked to the outside world. However, between Butmir and the rest of Sarajevo lies the airport runway. Although supposedly neutral and under tenuous UN control, crossing it would have been suicidal during the conflict. The solution, in extremis, was a 800m tunnel beneath the runway, eventually equipped with rails to transport food and arms. That proved just enough to keep Sarajevo supplied during nearly four years of siege. Walking through a short, restored section is the moving culmination to a visit that includes a 17-minute loop of archive video, a minefield garden and an engrossing museum within the shell-pounded house that hid the tunnel entrance. The in-house app can act as an audioguide saving you from reading the info boards.
Sarajevo is one of the rare European cities where such pristine nature can be found just a hop away from the city. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s largest, continually flowing waterfalls is just 12 kilometre due north of the city centre. Skakavac Vodopad or ‘Grasshopper Falls’ plunges 96 metres down a slippery limestone cliff.
The two hour walk to the Falls, from the small village of Nahorevo is a pleasant and easy one. Alternatively, take a local bus number 69 from Sutjeska Road to the end of the line. If you choose to drive, make sure you take a 4 x 4 vehicle as the road conditions have deteriorated over the years.The walk is marked with an occasional map and resting spots.At the halfway mark, there is a slightly run-down cafeteria operated by a friendly man called Dragan. He serves coffee and herbal tea. From this place, the walk to Skakavac is fairly flat and easier than the steady climb from Nahorevo.
The source of the stream that creates Skakavac is only a few hundred metres away from the waterfall. This has been made into a nice picnic area with tables and benches. There are two places from which to view the waterfall. From the main gravel road that leads to the picnic area there is a trail to the left.Two hundred metres from that spot there is the first lookout point.Again the trail is well-marked. The best view is another 20 minutes down a steep but well-maintained trail. This trail leads to the bottom of the waterfall where the full effect of the plunge can be seen and enjoyed. Be sure to respect the policy of cleanliness and leave no
Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque
Bascarsija is the medieval Oriental bazaar lying at the heart of Sarajevo’s Stari Grad (Old Town), where mosques and hammams (baths) date right back to 1462. The most important and grandest of Bascarsija’s mosques is Gazi Husrev-beg, named after a Turkish governor of Bosnia and built in 1530 in Ottoman style by the Persian architect Adžem Esir Ali. Originally a complex of prayer halls, madrasa (Koranic school), medieval soup kitchen for the Muslim poor, wash room and library, the mosque was badly damaged during the Balkan wars of the 1990s but has been extensively reconstructed; today its distinctive dome once more forms the heart of Bascarsija and its spiky minaret is a landmark visible all over Sarajevo.
The ornate entrance to the mosque is surrounded by marble and decorated with gilding; inside its gleaming white walls are adorned with Arabic inscriptions, the ceilings hung with golden chandeliers and the floors covered in handmade carpets gifted by Muslim visitors from overseas. The mosque’s peaceful courtyard is dominated by an elaborate wrought-iron fountain – once used for ritual washing – and is the resting place of many pre-eminent Bosnians, including the 19th-century poet Safvet Bey Bašagić and the leading politician of the 1930s, Dr Mehmed Spaho.
Mostar is a city in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, straddling the Neretva River. It is known for the iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge), a reconstructed medieval arched bridge. The nearby alleys are full of shops and market stalls, and the Old Bridge Museum explores the bridge’s long history. A narrow staircase leads up to the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque’s minaret for panoramic city views.
A settlement established as an urban structure in the 15th century on the crossing of a river and a land road was originally located in a valley of the Neretva River, between Hum Hill and the foot of the Velež Mountain. This relatively small settlement had two towers around the bridge, which dated 1459, as noted by written historical sources. The current name, Mostar, was mentioned for the first time in 1474 and derived from “mostari” – the bridge keepers. The historic town of Mostar developed in the 15th and 16th centuries as an Ottoman frontier town and during the short Austro-Hungarian period in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mostar has been long known for its old Turkish houses and the Old Bridge – Stari most, an extraordinary technological achievement of bridge construction. The historic part of Mostar is a result of interaction between the natural phenomena and human creativity throughout a long historical period. The essence of centuries-long cultural continuity is represented by the universal synthesis of life phenomena: the bridge and its fortresses – with the rich archeological layers from the pre-Ottoman period, religious edifices, residential zones (mahalas), arable lands, houses, bazaar, its public life in the streets and water. Architecture here presented a symbol of tolerance: a shared life of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Mosques, churches, and synagogues existed side-by-side indicating that in this region, the Roman Catholic Croats with their Western European culture, the Eastern Orthodox Serbs with their elements of Byzantine culture, and the Sephardic Jews continued to live together with the Bosniaks-Muslims for more than four centuries. A specific regional architecture was thus created and left behind a series of unique architectural achievements, mostly modest by physical dimensions, but of considerable importance for the cultural history of its people. The creative process produced a constant flow of various cultural influences that, like streams merging into a single river, became more than a mere sum of the individual contributing elements.
All tourists are attracted by Blagaj Tekke, an architectural ensemble that consists of typical Dervish house stands by the Buna river, surrounded by beautiful nature. But we liked ruins of old town on the hill much more than the house. It is said that first fortified settlement was built here between 3-2 centuries B.C. by Illyrian tribe. During the ottomans times Blagaj was turned into fortified castle, with big towers, mosque and jail that was protected by iron gates. But during earthquake in 1827 Blagaj fortress was severely damaged and finally abandoned in 1835Part of the wall is fully rebuilt, but there are still some old parts of the wall and remains of castle above the ground.
Kajtaz house is in the street of the same name and it is probably built at the end of 16th or at the beginning of the 17th century. Its original form has been preserved. The house belongs to town dwelling architecture, and it is the most beautiful living complex built in Turkish times, with separate houses for men and women. High walls protect it from strong sunshine and from people from the outside looking inside. Valuable carpets can be seen on the floors of large rooms, and numerous books in Arabic have been preserved. It is made of stone and wood.
Situated on the Buna river, Vrelo Bune is a unique natural and architectural ensemble. Springs that feed the river and stream from the caustic caverns are famous for producing exceptionally clean and cold water. Buildings from stone have been built in Blagaj since the 15th century, therefore the site is culturally significant. By the source of the Buna river also stands the Blagaj Tekke – a monastery, that was built in the 17th century. The residential houses have a signature feature – their patios and courtyards are meant to ensure privacy and isolate from the outside world. Besides the historic architecture, stunning rocks and river.
Jajce is a small city in Bosnia & Herzegovina, central not only geographically but also culturally. Throughout Bosnia’s long history, Jajce has been the home of medieval kings, Ottoman governors, and a range of different ethnic groups, as well as being one of President Tito’s earliest Communist strongholds. Jajce has been so far undiscovered by tourists, although UNESCO has recently been investing in renovating the city’s historical areas. Check out our guide for the best things to do and see when in Jajce.
Jajce was once the seat of some of Bosnia’s medieval kings, and the remains of their castle are still in a good condition today. Jajce fortress was first built around the mid-14th century, although over the years many alterations and additions have been made. The central castle is located on top of a hill overlooking the city, and within the town there a various parts of old fortified wall as well as gates. One of the most interesting features to look out for is the crest of one of the medieval ruling families, which can be seen in its near-perfect condition at the entrance to the castle. Thanks to this historic legacy, Jajce is currently a candidate for being named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A short drive away from Jajce itself are the Pliva Lakes, an area of stunning natural beauty. The lakes offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, such as kayaking, fishing, and swimming. In fact, the lakes are such a perfect location for water-based activities that they have hosted international kayaking and canoeing competitions, and are popular for training purposes. The lakes are surrounded by lush green hills, which are also perfect for hiking. Near to the lakes are some old watermills, which were built in the Middle Ages and were key to local industry. A visit to the lakes is a great family activity, or is ideal simply for those looking for a relaxing day by the water.
One of Jajce’s most unique features is this waterfall which is unusually situated right in the centre of the town. The falls are more than 20 meters high, and are at the point where two rivers meet and converge. The water is almost perfectly clear, and is a glittering bright turquoise color. There are a number of excellent viewing points, the best one being the official viewing platform where visitors are close enough to feel the spray of the water. The falls are currently at their highest recorded point, after an earthquake in the 1990s caused the area to flood and consequently increased the size of the waterfalls. Thanks to their central location, the Pliva waterfalls are a difficult attraction to miss when in Jajce.
Pray the Joyful Mysteries to the Statue of Our Lady commemorating the spot where She appeared. The Hill of Podbrdo is the place where the Medjugorje events started. It is on this hill that Our Lady first appeared to six children back in 1981. After that, millions of pilgrims, in a special way, have encountered Our Lady climbing this hill. Ever since the first days of the apparitions, the hill is known as Apparition Hill. Along the steep, rocky path, that leads from the houses further up the Hill, there are 15 bronze reliefs which represent the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. Climbing the Hill you have an opportunity to meet with Our Lady in the most special way, in the place that She has chosen and through Her favourite prayer, the Rosary. As you come to the top of the hill you will see the Statue of Our Lady which was erected there on the 20th anniversary of the apparitions in order to mark the Apparition Site.
Spend some time in reflections and meditations at the Blue Cross The Blue Cross is a special place at the base of Apparition Hill where Our Lady appeared to the children when they were hiding from the Communist police. It is here that Our Lady still appears to the visionary Mirjana at her monthly apparition (every 2nd of the month) and sometimes to the visionary Ivan when he has a meeting with his prayer group. Sometimes on those occasions all pilgrims are invited to be present at the apparition. The Blue Cross is an easy climb and a very special place for all those who can not climb Apparition Hill but still want to be part of it.
Partake in the Stations of the Cross on Krizevac on Fridays with the Parish at 2.00 pm (4.00 pm Summer Time). The name of the mountain ‘Šipovac’ (šipak = pommegranate) was changed into ‘the Cross Mountain’ when the Parish of Medjugorje erected the Cross on the top of it in 1934. Climbing the mountain pilgrims stop at the stations of the Way of the Cross to pray and reflect on Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. At the top of the mountain there is an 8.56 m high concrete cross in which the Relics of the True Cross received from Rome are embedded. The faithful pray at the foot of the cross, while they also enjoy the magnificent view of the entire village of Medjugorje. According to the visionaries, in the message of August 30, 1984, Our Lady said: “The cross was also in God’s plan when you built it.