(The bullet holes – everywhere in the country, keep your memories alive….)
I remember to the war in Bosnia, happened more than 20 years ago. In those days, I was living in Italy having a lot of friends from Bosnia who escaped from the horror of the war. In those days, maybe because of my youth, I was not able to understand why people in the center of Europe still fight. I was thinking that Europe represents always the modernity and the humanity and can not allow its citizens to kill each other. (And, by contrast, all of these were happening in Europe while at the same time the European Union was becoming an important formation with its new treaties uniting several European countries).
Now, years had passed, I had witnessed a lot of wars in every part of the World. I had to accept that wars will not finish unless there won’t be a human being left in the world. And I still can not understand why the old continent, Europe, considered as the father of modernity and humanity, could allow thousands of people to be killed, thousands of women to be raped and millions of people to be displaced from their homes, here, in Bosnia. Maybe because of that, for a long time, I didn’t want to go to Bosnia. It was too much for me….Then this May, I had an opportunity to see Sarajevo and Mostar for 3 days….
(Old City in Sarajevo, with wonderful architecture examples from Ottoman period…)
In fact, the easiness to go there attracted me the most. It takes approximately less than 2 hours of flight from almost anywhere in Europe to reach to the small capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. There are daily buses from Sarajevo to Zagreb, Munich, Ljubljana, Budapest, Venice, Milan, Paris, even to Copenhagen! With its less than half million of residents the city is very calm. It’s not a huge city: you can walk and see all main attraction sites. (Ask to your hotel desk information about Sarajevo Free Walking Tours; this is a free initiative organized by young and friendly people).
The small stone-bridges are embellishing the Miljacka River, which splits the center of the city. On one of those bridges, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed; and this caused the beginning of the WW1, one of the bloodiest wars of the history.
Most of the population of the country is Muslim although there’s also a considerable Orthodox population too. The Old City (or Bascarsilja) is a replica of Ottoman / Turkish towns which you can see in Anatolia: in the Old City, you can admire the Ottoman architecture in all buildings: mosques (see absolutely Ali Pasha Mosque), markets, bazaars, sebil (or fountains). One hour of walking on the cobblestoned streets will give you a deep feeling about the history of those lands, which was considered one of the precious cities in the Ottoman era. Most of the mosques and the fountains date back from the 15. – 16. centuries. Don’t hesitate to drink from the fountains in the streets; the water is natural, cold and rich in calcium. Maybe that’s why the Bosnian people are the most beautiful people which I’d seen in Europe!
When you pass the half of the pedestrian street in the Old City, you realize that the Ottoman styled buildings live their places to the old French styled ones: You’d just passed the famous (symbolic) line drawn in the middle of the city, where it says “East meets with West”… Well…. I’m not sure whether this was what was intended to be told…. Or rather…..it was like “East finished here, West begins here….”! In any case, you can not get rid of the sad past of those “split” people!
Then you should also not miss the Central Market (Markale Market), it’s a big yellow building. On its facade in glass are written the names of 40 people, who were killed during a bombing 20 years ago.
And after having witnessed to all of this melancholy,if you still feel appetite; you can go to a “burek” shop to taste the delicious “burek” (a kind of pasty pie, filled with various ingredients, like, cheese, meat, spinach, potatoe) or go to a “cevapi” store to taste the famous Bosnian meat balls with the yoghurt. Then take a seat in one of the coffeshops in the old bazaar, looking to the street, and have a cup of traditional turkish coffee while you will watch the beatiful but lonely bosnian people.