Last summer I passed few days in Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the 6 republics that were formed after dissolution of former Yugoslavia. The new state is mostly known for the atrocious war, lasted for 5 years, that cause 200 thousands of victims. During my stay I visited 3 cities that I will describe below.
Jajce is a little town of about 30 thousands inhabitants. It’s famous due to the fact that in 1943 was born socialistic republic of Yugoslavia. Still today there is a museum dedicated at that event. The main goal is a high cascade, about 30 meters, in the center of the city. Really spectacular view for numerous tourists that come to see this natural beauty. For the rest the center is composed of one hill and a castle in the top. The castle was constructed during the governance of ottomans that reign in this area for more than 5 centuries. I spent few hours to visit the main sights and to taste some local food, fabulous burek; some kind of dough with meat, but there are other substances that they used instead of meat, such potato, cheese and spinach. In late afternoon I continued my trip for Sarajevo.
Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and has about 750 thousands people. My first impression was very intensive. I asked myself: “where am I”? In Europe or in Middle East? The historical part of the city, called Bascarsija, seems to be Istanbul, or some other Islamic city. Almost all the women, the tourists excluded, are dressed in traditional Islamic style, with scarf. Lot of them wear veil, that often hide the face. The majority of men you can see have typical Muslim’s beard. In Bosnia live together 3 ethnic group: Serbs, Croatians and Bosnians, so all the inscriptions are in 3 languages, but not only. Very often I saw a fourth caption and initially I didn’t understand in which languages is. One sympathetic waiter (all the people I met were wry nice) explained to me that it is Turkish. The cloths that one see in the shops are very oriental, so the souvenirs, food, and coffee, too.
The modern part of the city is very different and can be associated at any European city. In this zone you will not see marks and traditions of ottoman’s empire. Those days there was a film festival and the atmosphere, especially by the night, was very hot. Lot of girls dressed as models, were walking to the streets and having fun in the open bars. It Seemed to me that a hundreds of liters of alcohol were drank. From all the locals went out very loud music. So the atmosphere in general is the think that I enjoyed more.
For the rest you can see religious objects of the 3 religions that cohabit: Cristian, Muslim and Hebrew. A times ago, the people of various faiths lived in peace, helping each other, for centuries. The evidences can be found in documents exposed in museums and churches. But today, entire environment seems to be inwrought with distrust, suspicion and hate, due to the horrible events happened during the war. The city is divided by river Miljacka, crossed by numerous bridges, ancient and modern. The main number of old buildings are from ottoman and Austro-Hungarian period, and some of them are very nice, like a national library. I stayed in Sarajevo for 2 nights, and the last city that I planed to see was Mostar.
The population count 65 thousands people, mixed between Croatians and Bosnians. Serbs are presented in very law number. The symbol of the city is old bridge, that was destructed during the war, and new one, apparently identical as the old, was built. The day I came in the city, there was a competition in high diving from the bridge. For this occasion, the bridge was too low, so the organization elevated it with one provisory tower, so the total height for jumpers was 28 meters, the highest allowed for this kind of competition.
While in Sarajevo I found visitors prevalently from United States and Western Europe, Mostar is full of Italian tourists that are attracted not only by the same city, but with near city of Medjugorje, famous location where was registered, hypothetical appearance of the Mother of God. Due to this attraction, the prices in this place are much more elevated in relation with other two cities I visited.