Bosnia and Herzegovina: Making Peace with History
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA’S HISTORY, ANCIENT AND MODERN, HAS A PROFOUND INFLUENCE ON ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE IN THE COUNTRY TODAY. EXPLORE SARAJEVO, MOSTAR, AND THEIR SURROUNDINGS THROUGH THEIR PAST.
Friday - Upon Arrival
Start your journey at the Baščaršija in Sarajevo, the old bazaar which is the historical and cultural center of the city. In the bezistans (covered markets) and caravanserais, traders from across the Balkans and Venice met. The 16th-century buildings which survive here — the Ottoman-era mosque, the Orthodox church, and synagogues — were built with the profits of traders and are a reminder of Sarajevo’s 500-year-old history of religious and cultural diversity.
Saturday - At Noon
Walk from Baščaršija to Vijećnica, Sarajevo’s City Hall and National Library. This dramatic structure, built in a Moorish style some 120 years ago, was destroyed during the Siege of Sarajevo but has been painstakingly reconstructed. The stunning interior features delicate archways and brightly coloured stained glass, plus thousands of books, paintings, and sculptures which collectively explore and present thousands of years of local history and culture.
Saturday - In the Evening
The Academy of Fine Arts operates as both a gallery space and an educational institute: it is Sarajevo’s centrepiece for the visual arts and an inspirational place to visit. Stop here for a performance or exhibition. Come nightfall, climb to the top of Sarajevo’s impressive Avaz Twist Tower, the tallest skyscraper in the city. An architectural contortion of blue glass and steel, it is the most striking modern addition to Sarajevo’s skyline, especially when floodlit at night.
Sunday - In the Morning
Drive from Sarajevo to Mostar, marvelling at the mountains and wildernesses along the way. En route be sure to visit Konjic, a village inhabited for at least 4,000 years. The Stara Ćuprija is the best-preserved Ottoman-era bridge in Bosnia, and it is interesting to compare it with the more famous Stari Most which you will see when you arrive in Mostar. Stari Most and its surrounding buildings are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, their reflections sparkling in the water of the Neretva River.
Sunday - At Noon
Outside of Mostar in Počitelj, Bosnia’s medieval and Ottoman history is uniquely well preserved. The Kula Fortress has a strong defensive position above the village, as well as dramatic views. You can visit the Sahat Kula bell tower, the heavily restored Hajji Alija Mosque, and also Gavrakanpetanović House, a former artists’ colony. Italian painter Vittorio Miele spent a protracted period working here in the 1960s: Počitelj became his muse.
Sunday - Before You Leave
End your tour in Blagaj where the Illyrians and Romans settled in antiquity. Old Blagaj Fort clings to the cliff top, and atop a spring you’ll find the Blagaj Tekke, a mausoleum and lodge built for Sufi dervishes, which seems entwined with its natural setting. This fascinating complex, which also includes bridges, mills, and residential quarters, demonstrates the merger of Mediterranean and Oriental features, and it has been nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status.