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Sarajevo at night

Sarajevo – where oriental charm meets great spirit

Between East and West

Sarajevo, the capital and cultural center of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been on the crossroads of East and West for centuries. It used to be the biggest and most important city of the mighty Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. Known as the European Jerusalem and Damascus of the North because of its traditional cultural and religious diversity, Sarajevo will dazzle you with its oriental charm, its vibrant culture and its great heart.

Baščaršija – the heart of Sarajevo

Sarajevo’s many firsts

This Palace (Saray means ‘palace’ in Turkish) has a rich and ancient history and a promising future. Inhabited since the Neolithic times, this area has provided home to many cultures including the peaceful Butmir culture, warlike Illyrian culture,  Romans and Slavic tribes to name a few, but its Golden Age arrived with the Ottomans. As a result of trade and caravans coming from both East and West, Sarajevo became a metropolis and the richest city in this part of Europe in the 16. century. Not only that, it also had many firsts in the western world. Sarajevo had a water supply system and electrical lighting before London did, and its tram was the first in the Balkans and middle Europe in 1885.

View from the hills around Sarajevo

On the crossroads of history

It absorbed a lot from both East and West, but it never belonged to either.  This small city of less than half a million people was often at the crossroads of history and great world events far beyond its significance.

View from the hills surrounding Sarajevo

Great Spirit

Who knows, maybe it was providence which placed this city between majestic Olympic mountains which gave it mythical strength far beyond its size. In their wisdom the mountains knew that it will need it in the unfolding of world history that was about to follow. This Little Jerusalem survived being burned to the ground in the 17. century, the spark which triggered the First World War and the longest siege in the modern history of Europe in the ’90. It was the center of Resistance during the Second World War and hosted the XIV Winter Olympic Games in 1984. This small city with great spirit always provided shelter to the weak and bravely fought the strong.  Today, it doesn’t have to prove its greatness through revolutions and fighting, but by birthing great men who bring it glory through their skills and talents, their big hearts and courage which in this day and age, luckily, is measured by different standards.

Vučko – a beloved Olympic mascot of the 1984. Winter Olympics in Sarajevo

Text originally written for the Sarajevo’s Garden of Dreams festival during corona times. The awesome team behind GoD went out of their way to lighten the hearts and lift the spirits of this city and its people during these times of crisis. I recommend you check the video stream on GoD youtube channel that will take you on a beautiful visual and sound journey through the streets of Sarajevo.