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Sarajevo – the Jerusalem of Europe

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.

Churches with Muslim cemetery in the background

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.

Sun setting over Miijecka River


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.

Sarajevo’s historic quarter Baščaršija

Splendor of Habsburg days

High-rises from communist days near Miijecka River, where during the siege of Sarajevo snipers aimed at civilians


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.

Historical photo of Ferdinand’s car shortly before he was shot


The very spot where Franz Ferdinand and his wife were shot on 28th June 1914


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.

Plague on the walls of the museum reminding of the tragic events


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.

Tomb of Gavrila Principe who assassinated Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie

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