While the road to Sarajevo for us was one of intense heat, a broken down bus and beautiful river views, Sarajevo’s past is far darker and different. One of the most eye opening aspects of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the culture different than what I am used to.
Somewhere in southwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, our bus made a stop on the side of the road at a restaurant – clearly a popular spot since the restaurant was packed with teens and families and their corresponding buses and automobiles. Literally, the greater landscape of this part of Bosnia was breathtaking – verdant rising hills and a cyan snake river. It took our breath away.
The city of Sarajevo is essentially 50% Muslim. The four year siege in the ‘90s by the Serbs is the longest in European modern history, and the city was left partially in ruins with tens of thousands dead. A lot of Muslims died. Now one of my favorite cities in Europe, I learned a lot about myself and the diversity of Europe.
The hills around Sarajevo are white with cemeteries. In a Muslim cemetery we visited had a reflecting pool and a sliver of the beautiful Sarajevo landscape. We were quite hesitant to even enter the graveyard, but once a cop did so and then when we were followed by a group of German tourists, we felt much more comfortable.
In the old town part of Sarajevo there are specific streets depending on the type of wares being sold. Ceramics Street, Textiles Street and then is Copper Street, where Bosnians shape objects out of copper, a lot of which comes from smelted down bullets and shells from the Bosnian War. Unlike in Croatia, we learned that the Bosnians are nice to their cats, and so they would let this cat and others roam in popular areas.
The mosque below sat right in the old town part of Sarajevo, along with a couple others. They are such beautiful structures. The tower’s purpose is to serve as a direct vector to the heavens. I have also noticed that American mosques often don’t have such an obvious structure – my theory is so that they aren’t targeted.