Sarajevo (Cyrillic, Сарајево, Turkish, Saraybosna) is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one of the most important cities in the Balkans. Its population was 429,672 according to the 1991 census, and is estimated to be around 300,000 residents today. Sarajevo has had a long and rich history ever since it was founded by the Ottomans in 1461. It was the site of the assassination that sparked World War I, the 1984 Winter Olympics and the Siege of Sarajevo during the Yugoslav wars. Sarajevo is part of Canton Sarajevo, one of the ten Cantons in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Geography and Climate
Sarajevo is located close to the geometric center of triangularly shaped Bosnia and Herzegovina, and covers some 142.0 km˛ (88.2 mi²) of land. The core of the city is built in the Sarajevo valley (Also translated as Sarajevo field), a small depression 500 meters above sea level nestled in between the surrounding mountains. Although much of the city itself is relatively flat, some of the outskirts and far Eastern parts are hilly. Neighborhoods in the old town in particular are well known for their steep streets and landscape.
The river Miljacka flows through the city from east to west and is one of the city's chief geographic features. The source of the river Bosna, Vrelo Bosne is found on the city's outskirts near Ilidža and is one of the most well known natural landmarks in the country.
The city is surrounded by five major mountains. They are part of the Dinaric Alps mountain range that winds through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia and Montenegro. The mountains are popular tourist attractions for hiking and skiing. In alphabetical order they are:
- Bjelašnica: 2067 meters (6782 feet), Southwest
- Igman: 1502 meters (4928 feet), Southwest
- Jahorina: 1913 meters (6276 feet) Southeast
- Trebević: 1627 meters (5338 feet), Southeast
- Treskavica: 2088 meters (6950 feet) North
Sarajevo itself is part of Bosnia proper, known for its mountainous and heavily forested landscape. Natural disasters pose little threat in the region, although small earthquakes have been known to occur. Latitude and Longitude wise, the city is found at 43°52' N and 18°25' E.
Sarajevo has a continental climate, lying between the climate zones of central Europe to the North and the Mediterranean to the South. Sarajevo experiences warm summers, with temperatures of 35°C (95°F) not being uncommon, and cold winters when snow is guaranteed due to the city's high latitude. Sarajevo has three major weather stations. They are located on Bjelašnica mountain, Butmir, and in the city itself.
The warmest month of the year is July, when the average temperature is about 19°C (66°F), although August's average temperature is only a degree lower. The coldest month of the year is January when the average temperature is -1°C (30°F). The average year-round temperature is 10°C (45°F).
Sarajevo receives about 905 mm (36 in) of precipitation a year. The rainiest month is October when the city receives 89.4 mm (3.5 in) of rainfall. The dryest is February when the city gets a mere 61.4 mm (2.4 in) of precipitation. Average air pressure at the city's elevation is 942.3 mb, and this varies little throughout the year.
|This section is part of
the History of Sarajevo
|Early Ottoman Era|
|Late Ottoman Era|
Main Article: History of Sarajevo
The area of present day Sarajevo has a long and rich history dating back to the Stone age, when the Butmir Culture flourished in the area. However, little material evidence of this is available, mostly due to later construction. Several Illyrian settlements existed in the area before it was conquered by Rome in 9 ad. During Roman times, a town named Aquae Sulphurae existed on the location of present day Ilidža, a Sarajevo suburb to the southwest of the city.
The year usually mentioned as the city's founding is 1461, when the first Ottoman governor of Bosnia, Isa-beg Ishaković, transformed this village cluster into a city and a state capital by building a number of key objects, including a mosque, a closed marketplace, a public bath, a hostel and the Governor's castle (Saray) which gave the city its present name (See also: Etymology of the Name of Sarajevo). Sarajevo flourished in the 16th century when its greatest donor and builder Gazi Husrev-beg built most of what is now the old city. By the late 17th century, Sarajevo was the most important city in the Balkans after Istanbul.
In a raid led by Prince Eugene of Savoy in 1697 against the Ottoman Empire, Sarajevo was burned down and leveled. The city was later rebuilt, but never fully recovered from the destruction. The capital of Bosnia was transferred to Travnik. In 1878, Bosnia was occupied by Austria-Hungary, and Sarajevo was quickly brought up to the standards of the industrial age.
In the event that triggered the World War I, Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo on 28 June, 1914. Following the war, in the kingdom of Yugoslavia, Sarajevo was the capital of the Drina banovina. After World War II, Sarajevo grew rapidly as it became an important regional industrial center in Yugoslavia. Modern city blocks were built west of the old city, adding to Sarajevo's architectural uniqueness. The peak of city growth occurred in early 1980s, when Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics.
On April 6, 1992, Sarajevo was surrounded by forces of Bosnian Serbs. The warfare that lasted until the October of 1995 resulted in large scale destruction and dramatic population shifts (See Siege of Sarajevo for details). Reconstruction of Sarajevo started as soon as the war ended, in 1995. By 2003 most of the city had been rebuilt, with only a few remaining visible ruins in the city center. Modern business buildings and skyscrapers have since been constructed throughout the city.
In terms of politics, Sarajevo is the most important city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the capital of the entire country, as well as the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina sub-entity. Sarajevo is also the obvious center of politics for the Sarajevo Canton. It is comprised of four different municipalities and is one of the few cities in the country with a separate city government. Sarajevo is the location of numerous other important political structures, such as dozens of foreign embassies. City government is split into the traditional three branches of democratic government.
The city government’s executive branch (Bosnian "Gradska Uprava") consists of the mayor, his cabinet, and numerous city organizations that help in the governing of the city. The mayor is the chief of city politics, and has two deputies, along with a number of advisors in the cabinet. The role of the executive branch in city government is outlined in the city constitution.
The current mayor of Sarajevo is Muhidin Hamamdžić, from the Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city deputy mayors are Željko Komšić and Slavo Vlaški, who belong to the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the SDP respectivelly. They are joined by a secretary and a number of advisors.
To help the mayor carry out the executive duties of the city, the executive branch also consists of several city services, or "organizations". They are the "City Service for Running of the Region" (Gradska služba za opću upravu), "City Service for the Finances" (Gradska služba finansija), "City Service for Local Employment" (Gradska služba za lokalno poslovanje), "City Service for City Planning" (Gradska služba za urbano planiranje), and the "City Service for Communal Jobs" (Gradska služba za komunalne poslove).
The main legislative body of the city of Sarajevo is the Gradsko Vijeće, or City Council. Councilmen are elected by municipality according to population, with Novi Grad municipality recieving the most seats in the city council and Stari Grad municipality the least. The council is headed by the council speaker, two deputies, and a secretary, and consists of 24 members. Currently, of these 28, 15 belong to the SDP, 7 to the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina, 5 to SDA, and 1 to the HDZ. The president of the City Council is Mira Hadrić-Winterhalter, and deputies are Emin Svrakić and Vladimir Zubić.
As the center of Canton Sarajevo, the city is also the center of judicial procedures for the area, based on the post-transitional judicial system for the country as outlined by the High Representative and his plans for the “High Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils” of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2002. The BiH Constitutional Court is also located in Sarajevo, consisting of nine members. Four of these are selected by the house of representatives of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, two by Republika Srpska's national assembly, and three foreign members are selected by the president of the European Court of Human Rights. The supreme court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Cantonal court of Sarajevo Canton are also located in Sarajevo. Sarajevo is also the center of law training and education for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Main Article: Demographics of Sarajevo
Since no official census has been taken since 1991, the precise population of Sarajevo cannot be known for certain. However the latest estimates from the Sarajevo Canton government, dating from December 2002 are generally thought to be fairly accurate. They put the total population of the city of Sarajevo at 297,399 residents and the number of people in the greater Sarajevo region at 401,118. A more recent unofficial estimate has the population of Sarajevo in late 2003 at 412,526.
According to the official government statistics, Sarajevo's population density is 2470.1 per square kilometer. The most densely populated part of Sarajevo is in the municipality Novo Sarajevo (7524.5 inhabitants per square kilometer), while the least densely populated is Stari Grad municipality (742.5 inhabitants per square kilometer).
The biggest ethnic group in Sarajevo are the Bosniaks, who with more than 230,000 people make up 77.4% of the city. They are followed by the Serbs, of which there are some 35,000 (12% of the city), and Croats with a population of 22,380 (7.5% of the total population). 9,283 people (3.1% of overall population) are classified as others. They most likely consist of Sephardi Jews, and Roma, along with a small number of foreign workers (Mostly of Chinese and African backgrounds).
Main Article: Economy of Sarajevo
Sarajevo is economically one of the strongest regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Like many other major cities, its economy is largely based on industries such as manufacturing and tourism. As the center of various levels of area politics, many Sarajevo citizens also work in government. A number of local and international companies are present in the city and contribute to its economic health.
Sarajevo's manufacturing deals with a wide array of products. This includes production of Foods and Beverages, textiles, furniture, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, and metalworking. Sarajevo companies also produce unique brands of alcohol, and cigarettes.
A variety of important economic institutions are to be found in Sarajevo. The central bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina is found in the city, as are numerous other independent banks. Overall 19 different banks have their headquarters in Sarajevo. The city also holds the Sarajevo Exchange of securities, Institute for accounting and auditing of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Board for valuable papers of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Register of valuable papers of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Some major companies based in Sarajevo includie Air Bosna (Currently not in operation), BH Telecom , Bosmal , Bosnalijek , CBS Bank , Dnevni Avaz, Energopetrol, Oslobodenje, Fabrika Duhana Sarajevo (Sarajevo Tobacco Factory), Sarajevska Pivara (Sarajevo Brewery), and Unioninvest. Foreign companies with a foothold in the Sarajevo region include Harris Communications, Brown & Root, and, most notably, Coca Cola. The Bosnian-Malaysian firm Bosmal is also situated in the city.
Communications and Media
Main Article: Communications and Media of Sarajevo
As the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo is naturally the main center of the country's media. Most of the country's major television channels are based in the city, as are the most popular newspapers and magazines.
Newspapers are the most popular and most well established forms of media. The two most popular and credible daily newspapers are the Oslobodenje and the Dnevni Avaz, The buildings of both of these are adjacent to each other, situated in Novi Grad municipality, making the spot the center of the Bosnian media world.
Television is very popular in Sarajevo, even though for most people the number of channels is somewhat limited. Satellites allow for a number of foreign channels to be watched, but the most popular are the local news stations based in the city. FTV is the television of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity, while there is also a national radio-television system named Public Broadcast Service of Bosnia and Herzegovina . A Sarajevo Cantonal channel is also available.
Many small independent radio stations exist, although the majority listen to the more established ones such as Radio M, Radio Grad, eFM Student Radio and RSG. RSG, Radio Stari Grad (Radio Old Town) is the most popular of these. Radio Free Europe can still be heard, and several American and West European stations are available for listening as well. Also popular is Radio 202, affiliated with FTV.
Divisions of Sarajevo
Sarajevo, the city and surrounding region, are split into several divisions themselves. These can be official or unofficial, with or withou actual political power. The most important division of the City of Sarajevo are its four Municipalities, as well as the outlying Municipalities (Sarajevo's suburbs) which are often considered part of the city. The Municipalities themselves are basically made up of various neighborhoods, identified by factors ranging from history to architecture.
The city of Sarajevo consists of four Municipalities, territories that are somewhat the Bosnian equivalent of the United States’ counties or New York City’s boroughs. They are the fourth level of political authority in Bosnia and Herzegovina after state, entity, and kanton or region. The Bosnian word for them is "Općina". They are, Centar (Center), Novi Grad, (New Town) Novo Sarajevo (New Sarajevo), and Stari Grad (Old Town). Like the city at large, all of the Municipalities have their own regional government, including a foreman, councils, and various Municipality services. The role of these Municipality governments is not as significant as that of other Municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the existance of the Sarajevo city government.
Sarajevo’s suburbs are essentially the 5 Municipalities of Canton Sarajevo that are not included in Sarajevo’s official city limits. Of these 5, only two have a large enough population and are urbanized enough to be considered true suburbs. They are the cities of Ilidža and Vogošća, found in the Municipalities of the same name.
Ilidža is the chief suburb of Sarajevo, located just west of Novi Grad Municipality. Ilidža had some 70,000 citizens prior to the Siege of Sarajevo, but today that number is a little under 50,000. It is the seat of Ilidža Municipality, and today it is almost fully integrated into Sarajevo proper. Ilidža is very famous for its natural beauty, such as the spring Vrelo Bosne located nearby and towering mount Igman. A 19th century British newspaper called it one of the most beautiful places on earth. Sarajevo International Airport is found next to the city as well.
Vogošća is the secondary suburb of Sarajevo, located about 6 kilometers north of the city center and covering some 72km˛. The capital of the Municipality of the same name, Vogošća has a population of around 9000, which doesn't make it the most populous Municipality outside the Sarajevo city limits, but Vogošća gains its significance from other things. Most importantly, Vogošća was the second most industrious and productive Municipality in the ex-Yugoslavia. This is largely due to a flourishing automobile industry as numerous foreign companies built factories in the area. A factory is even on the Vogošća Municipality seal.
Like many other major world cities, Sarajevo and its Municipalities are further split into neighborhoods. In Bosnia each Municipality has a number of neighborhoods that themselves sometimes have a small function in city government, as well as their own histories and notable features. Among the more prominent Sarajevo neighborhoods by Municipality are:
- Centar Municipality: Bjelave, Breka, Ciglane, Koševsko Brdo, Marijin Dvor, Mejtaš, Skenderija, Velešići
- Novi Grad Municipality: Alipašino Polje, Alipašin Most, Boljakov Potok, Briješće, Dobrinja, Mojmilo, Nedžarići, Otoka
- Novo Sarajevo Municipality: Buća Potok, Crni Vrh, ćengić Vila, Dolac Malta, Grbavica, Hrasno, Pofalići
- Stari Grad Municipality: Baščaršija, Bistrik, Hrastovi, Kovači, Sedrenik, Vratnik
The most famous of all Sarajevo neighborhoods is the Baščaršija. It is the market sector of Sarajevo's old down, characterized by its many shops, mosques, restaurants, and Ottoman architecture. The Baščaršija is probably the area of Sarajevo that is most appealing to tourists. Other famous neighborhoods include the Ciglane and Skenderija.
Most neighborhoods in Novi Grad and Novo Sarajevo consist of numerous apartment buildings placed one next to each other. The Old Town is probably the only neighborhood where small houses outnumber apartments. Centar's residential areas are mixed between the two, but the area is mostly known for its commercial and political areas.
The people of Sarajevo are known as “Sarayliyas” (Spelled Sarajlijas in Bosnian). Sarayliyas are known for being very proud and patriotic of their city. The song by popular singer Kemal Monteno , “Sarajevo Ljubavi Moja” (Sarajevo Love of Mine) has come to somewhat epitomize this feeling among the people, and to this day remains something of an unofficial anthem for the city (Alongside with "Kad ja pođoh na Benbašu").
If one were to describe the stereotypes of Sarayliyas in one word, it would be cosmopolitian. Sarayliyas are known for being modern cultured city dwellers. Bosnians from outside Sarajevo are thought to have the sense that Sarajevo receives too much attention, but this is more of a sibling rivalry than an actual dislike for Sarajevo and its people. Within the city itself, the people of the various Municipalities have somewhat taken up the stereotypes of the regions they live in. Sarajevo is also known for having a very communal feel, despite its large population.
Sarajevo has had a nunmber of famous citizens over the years (See also: Famous Sarayliyas). They include an Academy Award winner, two Nobel Prize winners, legendary musicians, novelists, and politicians. Sarajevo has also produced presidents for three countries.
Tourism is one of Sarajevo's major industries, and is constantly growing now with stability in the region. Sarajevo's mountain ranges and Olympic facilities make it an ideal location for winter sports. Another reason for Sarajevo's popularity among tourists is its 600 years of accumulated history, which have been impacted by both Western and Eastern empires.
Ever since the 1984 Olympics, Sarajevo has been a popular tourist attraction (save for the war years in the early 1990s). Indeed, even long before that Sarajevo was a popular stop for travelers in the Ottoman and Austria-Hungarian empires, and is mentioned in traveling books from all sides of Europe and the Middle East. One of the first structures built in the city was an inn.
Sarajevo overall has some 50 major hotels, along with numerous smaller motels and hospitality businesses. A variety of travel agencies in the city can help organize a visit. The most famous hotel in Sarajevo is the Holiday Inn, whose distinctive color and location has made it something of a city icon.
Various types of tourism are popular in Sarajevo. War tourism focuses on the war years, and the famous spots of the siege of sarajevo. Some are interested specifically in the historical aspects of the city, while thousands come for the area's nature. Summer is the busiest season for Sarajevo tourism, as thousands of tourists visit from foreign countries. Many of these are from the neighboring Balkan states, while a very large number are former residents who fled the city during the war.
Places to Visit
- Cultural sites of interest
- National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina
- People's Theatre
- Sarajevo Art Gallery
- Historical sites of interest
- Modern sites of interest
- Religious sites of interest
^ Under construction/reconstruction
Geographic and historical factors have combined to make Sarajevo a very small city for its population. Due to this and a lack of parking structures, it is very difficult to find places for parking. This is especially true in the summer months when the number of people in Sarajevo is significantly higher due to the number of tourists. Sarajevo makes up for this with its traditional old world city planning, which allows for pedestrians to easily walk to wherever they need to go. Bicycling is also practiced, but is not very common.
Public transportation is very common and has a long tradition in Sarajevo. The chief methods of this are tramways, trolleys, and buses. Tramways in fact, were first introduced to Europe in Sarajevo during the late 19th century by Austria-Hungarian officials. The Sarajevo tramway is 16 kilometers long.
Overall in Sarajevo there are 7 tramway lines, 4 trolley lines, and 9 bus routes. Most of these run east-west, and are found on the northern bank of the Miljacka. These disproportions however are merely due to the city's layout and practical reasons. During the last years of Yugoslavia, a subway was planned as well but never implemented.
The railroad has always been very important in Sarajevo. The main Sarajevo railroad station is located in the north central part of the city. From there railroad tracks head west before branching off in different directions. The railroad for years was crucial to the industry of the part of town it ran through. This has left a lasting impression on the region, ranging from stereotypes to soccer teams. Historically, Sarajevo was a very important center of the railroad industry in Southeastern Europe, although it has been greatly hurt by the war.
Sarajevo International Airport (intl. code SJJ) is located just a few kilometers southwest of the city. During the war the airport was used for United Nations flights and humanitarian relief. Since the Dayton Accord in 1996, the airport has welcomed a thriving commercial flight business.
The two main streets within Sarajevo are "Alija Izetbegovic" street and "Zmaj od Bosne" (Dragon of Bosnia) street. Most traffic out of the city is directed to the west, as that is where most important cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are located. Also, the Republika Sprska is directly to the east, and most people have little desire to go there. A highway that connects Sarajevo with Budapest and central Europe is being modernized, but presently it is at some spots little more than a paved countryside road. The speed limit at most parts is 60 or 80 km/h.
The most important thing to know about Sarajevo regarding sports is that it was the location of the 1984 Winter Olympics. However, sports and sporting events played an important part in Sarajevo life well before the city hosted the games. For instance, one of the city's best-loved sports is football. The two football clubs, FK Sarajevo and NK Željezničar Sarajevo, both have a long tradition of competing in European and World Cups tournaments.
Another is basketball. The basketball club Bosna Sarajevo won the European championship in 1979. The chess club Bosna Sarajevo has been a championship team since the 1980s. Sarajevo often holds international events and competitions in various other sports as well, such as tennis and kickboxing.
Overall, Sarajevo has sports clubs to Athletics, Bicycling, Boxing, Football, Wrestling, Judo, Karate, Kickboxing, Skating, Basketball, Bowling, Volleyball, Swimming, Rugby, Gymnastics, Diving, Handball, Chess, Skiing, Snowboarding, Archery, Tennis, and numerous others.
Notable Sarajevo sports facilities include the Zetra Sports Center, Olympic Stadium Koševo, and Skenderija. In the surrounding mountains there are further facilities for a wide array of winter sports. Numerous other sports related buildings are currently planned.
Sarajevo’s extensive culture is represented in various ways. Numerous cultural festivals occur every year, such as the Bašćaršija Nights, Sarajevo Winter Festival, and the Sarajevo Jazz Festival. Numerous theatres are present in Sarajevo as well, such as the National Theatre of Bosnia and Herzegovina . The first ever Bosnian opera was held in Sarajevo in 2003. Historically, Sarajevo was home to several famous Bosnian poets and thinkers during the times of the Ottoman Empire. Nobel Prize winners Ivo Andrić and Vladimir Prelog were educated in the city, as was academy award winning director Danis Tanović.
Sarajevo is also home to the Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the oldest surviving such texts, originating from the 14th century and brought by Jews fleeing the Spanish inquisition. As of late, modern art has flourished in the city as well.
Sarajevo is home to a number of cultural institutions, dedicated to upkeeping the city's culture. The notable Bosniak institute is housed in an impressive building in central Sarajevo, and features various interesting exhibits dealing with the city's and country's culture and history. Also notable are the International Center for Kids and Youth in New Sarajevo Municipality, and the Center for Sarajevo Culture.
Theatres are also an important part of Sarajevo culture. The first great Sarajevo theatre was the national theatre of Bosnia and Herzegovina, built in 1919 and surviving to this day. Prior to that, plays were often held in parks or at the large houses of wealthy families. The first Bosnian opera was held in Sarajevo in 2003. Sarajevo also houses the Sarajevo Youth Theatre.
The most famous in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is located in central Sarajevo. It was established in 1888, from an idea dating back to the first half of the 19th century. The Sarajevo Haggadah is held there. While in Sarajevo one can also visit the Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art, the Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Museum of the City of Sarajevo, and the Bosnian and Herzegovinian Museum of Literature. There existed an impressive Olympic museum dedicated to the 84 games but it was destroyed in the warfare.
Sarajevo also holds many of the most famous historical texts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were largely held in the Sarajevo City (and University) Library, that was built in 1896. Unfortunatly Serbian ultranationalists purposely fired upon the building with incendiary shells. They succeeded in setting the building on fire, and along with it thousands of irreplaceable text. Today an international effort is underway to replace what was lost.
In Ottoman times, the Gazi Husrev-beg library was one of the largest and greatest in the Balkans. Destroyed since, it is currently being rebuilt in a stunning modern form that will house many of the oldest texts found in the city.
An interesting aspect of the city's culture is its rich musical history. Many regard it as the most musically influental city in the Balkans, especially during the 20th century. "Kad ja pođoh na Benbašu", is a great example of traditional Bosnian music, and is one of the city's unofficial anthems.
During the second half of the 20th century, Sarajevo was the center of Yugoslavian pop and rock music. Some of the bands, such as Bijelo Dugme (White Button) and Indekis (the Indexes), are arguably the greatest Yugoslavian rock bands of all time but are only the tip of the iceberg. After them come a wide array of other bands and preformers considered "greats" and "legends", such as Crvena Jabuka (Red Apple), Plavi Orkestar (Blue Orchestra), Dino Merlin , Zabranjeno Pušenje , and Kemal Monetno. Monteno's song, "Sarajevo Ljubavi Moja" (Sarajevo Love of Mine), is another unofficial anthem of Sarajevo.
As an historic city, Sarajevo has numerous myths and folklore surrounding it as well. The character Nasrudin Hodza is popular throughout the former lands of the Ottoman Empire, and Sarajevo is no exception. Numerous stories about him dealing with Sarajevo have been written over the years. A famous piece of Sarajevo folklore is the story of the Sarajevo Orthodox Church. It was said that when a request came to build it, authorities required that it go no higher than the tallest minaret in Sarajevo. A wise old man was then said to have advised for the church to be built into the ground. Thus the building reached a proper height but met the restrictions.
Numerous other famous bits of Sarajevo folklore survive representing many different eras of Sarajevo's history. One of the earliest is the story of the Goat's Bridge . As the story goes, an old herder was tending his goats by the river Miljacka when one of them started ferociously digging at a certain spot of the ground. Mystified, he walked over for a closer look only to find numerous sacks of gold. With the gold, he then built a great bridge over the river that would for years be the main crossing for travelers on their way to Istanbul.
Far more recent is the story of Sarajevo's Romeo and Juliet. It is said that during the siege of sarajevo a young Serb boy and Bosniak girl decided to flee the city together. They got as far as no man's land before the boy was shot dead and the girl wounded. Rather than flee alone however, she turned to stay by her lover's side, where she too eventually died.
The city is present internationally in various forms of pop culture. The film "Welcome to Sarajevo" was released in 1997. Irish rock band U2 had a hit song with Miss Sarajevo, and progressive metal group Savatage's 1995 Concept Album "Dead Winter Dead" deals with the story of Sarajevo's Romeo and Juliet. Sarajevo is also the name of a jam Band from East Windsor, New Jersey.
Numerous events take place yearly in Sarajevo. With the various religions present, religious holidays are very popular. The month of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, Catholic and Orthodox Church Christmas and Easter are all important holidays. Muhammad's birthday, though technically not allowed by conservative Islam, is widely celebrated in Sarajevo.
The Sarajevo Film Festival has been going on since 1995 and has become the premier film festival in the Balkans. Largely due to its size and the success and popularity of cinema in Bosnia, the event has gained considerable importance and often attracts foreign celebrities. The Sarajevo Winter Festival is also well-known, as are the Bašćaršija Nights, a month-long showcase of local culture, music, and dance.
There are numerous state holidays which are celebrated, even though not on the same level as religious ones. April 1, Independence Day, and November 25, National Day, are the two most important state holidays. Numerous others minor ones vary from Municipality to Municipality. Important anniversaries are marked in the media and receive noticeable reactions from the general populace as well.
Education has a long tradition in Sarajevo. The first university in Sarajevo was a school of Sufi philosophy established by Gazi Husrev-beg in 1531. Over the years, numerous other religious schools were established as well. The Sarajevo library, in its prime, was in the same category as the Madrassa of Beyazid II. The annexation of Bosnia by Austria-Hungary introduced Sarajevo to Western education. The first high school in Sarajevo was established in 1887. Starting in the 1940s, numerous modern faculties were added to the University of Sarajevo for a wide variety of professions ranging from economics to forestry. Sarajevo today also has 46 elementary schools (Grades 1-8), and 19 high schools (Grades 9-12). The University of Sarajevo includes faculties for medicine, law, agriculture, technical services, philosophy, and economics.
Sarajevo students are required to pass entrance exams into high schools. Unlike in the United States, high school students in Bosnia are prepared for specific occupations and industries. Among the high schools in Sarajevo, there exist those that specialize in educating students for careers in education, music, medicine, dentistry, economics, and a variety of other fields of work.
- Sarajevo, MOJ GRAD! – "Sarajevo, My City!" online city guide and web portal (in Bosnian)
- Official Sarajevo city government site (in Bosnian)
- Sarajevo International Airport (in Bosnian and English)
- Tourism Association of Sarajevo (in Bosnian and English)
- United States Embassy in Sarajevo
- Sarajevo X portal
- Interactive Map of Sarajevo
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