Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital, has everything. Its rich history and museums earned it the nickname ‘Jerusalem of Europe’. Bascarsija, or Old Bazaar, is Sarajevo’s Ottoman centrepiece. Mosques, Orthodox and Catholic Cathedrals and Synagogues sit side by side with modern malls and skyscrapers. Pedestrian zones and parks make the capital a pleasant place to spend a few days giving a very different experience to most people’s memories of conflict.
Banja Luka is the economic and cultural centre of the Republika Srpska in Northern Bosnia. Bosnian Serbs make up most of the population while the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Saviour dominates the centre. The Austro-Hungarians developed most the city with the recently reconstructed Ferhadija Mosque being one of the only remaining Ottoman buildings.
Tuzla may not appear to be the prettiest destination in Bosnia due to its industrial setting and Soviet appearance. But, dig deeper, and you’ll see the beauty and a lovely old town. Salt production was always the primary economic source and was increased under the Ottomans making the town reasonably wealthy. Today, Ottoman-style buildings and the 16th-century Turalibeg’s Mosque juxtapose against Austro-Hungarian facades along city square Trg Slobode as well as medieval squares.
Brcko District is somewhat unique with the title of Europe’s only self-governing free city. Sitting on the banks of the River Sava with Croatia to the north, Brcko hasn’t become a victim of segregation. Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats live side by side in this little-explored destination. Walking along Trg Mladih, the main street is lined with colourful Hapsburg architecture and cafes; you’ll get a feeling for Brcko’s soul. Other highlights include the orange and yellow Gradska Vijecnic, which is a government building on Bulevar Mira 1.
Did you know Bosnia has an Adriatic coastline? Looking at the map, you would need to zoom in to see their 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) sandwiched between the border with Croatia to both the north and south. Bosnia has the second smallest coastline, second only to Monaco, and the main city is Neum. Neum is small with a beautiful stretch of the Adriatic and feels like you’ve stepped back into Yugoslavia. The town may not have architectural beauty, but it makes up for it with its coastline.
The most visited destination in Bosnia attracts tourists to Stari Most. Combine this with a special mixture of Bosniak and Croat cultures on either side of the river, and visitors get two very different experiences. Kujundziluk is Mostar’s Ottoman Bazaar, full of stalls and branching alleys. The Croat side houses Cathedral of Mary, Mother of the Church, and shaded avenues with a Croatian charm.