Sarajevo – the Jerusalem of Europe – churches and synagogues all squeezed into the tiny center of Sarajevo are witnesses to the turbulent history of what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina. Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain had their synagogues built and so had their Ashkenazi brothers. Ottoman rule lasted till the beginning of the 20th century and then the very catholic Habsburg annexed the area. Religious and secular architecture alike reveal the varies rulership that Sarajevo suffered from and strived.
Ottoman- Habsburg- Communist Plattenbauten-Shopping malls
The first building I recognized was the headquarter of a major Austrian bank though, Raiffeisen Bank. So I was eager to dive in and made my way to banks of the River Miijecka River to watch the sun settling on the ancient bridges.
My hotel was right in Sarajevo’s historic quarter, Baščaršija. The small alleys date back to the 15th when Sarajevo was founded and now shelter restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. Tourists and locals alike hang out here, munching on the ever present Ćevapčići or smoking a shisha.
Once I moved from the historic center the Oriental architecture faded into grand buildings clearly reminding of the splendor of the Habsburg rule that followed. If you walk long enough the Communist-style Plattenbauten become predominant and newly built huge shopping malls with their shiny glass fronts and free Wifi.
The shots heard by the whole world
The heir to the Habsburg throne Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were shot in Sarajevo in the 28th of June 2014. At the end of World War I 18 million were dead, 23 million wounded and the Habsburg Empire disintegrated in various independent nations.
Today a small museum on the street corner where the shots were fired reminds of that fatal day. There you find photos of all the assassins involved, the route the car with the Ferdinand took, the route it should have taken and this is why the driver tried to turn around, the perfect moment for one of the assassin, Gavrilo Princip, to go ahead with this plan.
Being obsessed with cemeteries I also found the tomb of Princip, a pretty big tom so I wondered if his co-plotters were eventually buried with him.