Central Europe: Bosnia and Herzegovina - Sarajevo to me

By Cubie - November 23, 2014

My memory of Sarajevo before this trip was via news on television approximately 2 decades ago. Prior to that, Bosnia & Herzegovina was an unknown country to me.

The Latin Bridge was the site of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.
I wanted to learn a little more about BiH before stepping into this country. This is probably a well known fact, so I'm ashamed to admit that I only learned of this because I was reading up on Sarajevo - The immediate trigger for World War I was the 28 June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo.

K and I have kicked started our Central Europe holidays with the country where World War I started. Coincidentally, the last country before we departed from Central Europe was Poland, where World War II is generally said to have begun on 1 September 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Germany. So a friend actually commented that we were on a war-history-education trip.

Going back to Sarajevo (to my ear, it is pronounced as Sa-ra-ye-vo), it is the capital and largest city of BiH. The city is famous for its traditional cultural and religious diversity. It is the only major European city to have a mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church and synagogue within the same neighbourhood.

The city celebrated one of it's best year in 1984 when Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics and even to this day, when I visited in August 2014, we still find fridge magnets or key chain souvenir with the official mascot, a little wolf named Vucko.

Fast forwarding eight years later, BiH declared independence on 3 March 1992 and received international recognition the following month on 4 April 1992. Sarajevo was besieged by the Army of Republika Srpska the next day, 5 April 1992 to 29 Feb 1996, a total of 1,425 days, making it the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare.

Today, or rather three months ago, Sarajevo to me, is a friendly safe place to travel. Among the countries I went in Central Europe, it was different, unique, charming and hopeful. Sections of the city - Baščaršija showcases historical and cultural in this city. Next to it, a modern centre of the city with high(er) buildings but intermittently bullet-holed buildings can be seen.

Side note: Eastern Europe vs Central Europe... To most, Easter Europe includes any place that was once behind the Iron Curtain. However I read that people who actually live in many of these countries consider themselves "Central Europeans" while Eastern Europe is really eastern i.e. Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Romania.

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