Sarajevo Special: Heartbreaking History of the Bosnian Capital

Bakir Djulich

Sarajevo is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 275,524 inhabitants. The Sarajevo metropolitan area, including Sarajevo Canton and East Sarajevo, is home to 555,210 inhabitants. Nestled within the greater Balkan region, Sarajevo is situated on the Miljacka River in the heart of Southeastern Europe and the Balkans. It is famous for its traditional religious and cultural diversity, with adherent Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, and Judaism coexisting for centuries. Due to this long and rich history, Sarajevo is often called the "Jerusalem of Europe" or "Jerusalem of the Balkans." It is one of only a few major European cities with a mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church, and synagogue within its old town boundaries. A bombardment during the Siege of Sarajevo in 1992 by forces of the Yugoslav People's Army heralded the start of the Bosnian War, which would last four years and claim over 100,000 lives. Today, the city has re-emerged as a thriving metropolis with a growing tourist industry. It is not surprising that 75% of the top 100 travel influencers listed Sarajevo as the most vibrant city in Europe. Visitors travel to Sarajevo to experience its culture, heritage, and natural beauty.

In this article, we'll take a look at the tragic history of the Bosnian capital. We'll explore how the city was once a symbol of peace and tolerance and how it became the site of some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.


The name "Sarajevo" is derived from the Turkish word saray, meaning "palace" or "mansion." This indicates the city's history as a seat of power for various empires and kingdoms.

The first known use of the name Sarajevo was in 1455 when it was mentioned in a letter written by Isa Bey Humaui, the Ottoman governor of Bosnia.

Early History
Sarajevo PanoramaWikipedia

The region where Sarajevo now stands has been inhabited for over 4,000 years. The first settlers were the Illyrian tribe of the Daesitiates. Later, the Romans conquered the area and established the colony of Aquae Sulphurae (Latin for "healing waters").

After the Roman Empire fell, the area was ruled by various groups, including the Byzantines, Slavs, and Avars. In the 9th century, the area was invaded by the Franks, and in the 11th century, it became part of the Kingdom of Croatia.

In 1089, Bosnia was recognized as a separate kingdom within the Croatian state. And in 1163, Sarajevo was proclaimed a free city by King Béla III of Hungary.

During this time, Sarajevo began to grow and prosper. It became an important trade center, and its population began to increase. By the 14th century, Sarajevo was one of the largest cities in the Balkans.

Ottoman Rule

In 1463, the Ottoman Empire invaded Bosnia and Sarajevo came under Ottoman rule. For the next 400 years, Sarajevo would be a part of the Ottoman Empire.

During this time, the city underwent a period of significant growth and transformation. The Ottomans built many new mosques and other public buildings, and Sarajevo became an important center of Islamic culture.

At the same time, the city also became home to a large community of Orthodox Christians. This led to a unique blend of Eastern and Western cultures in Sarajevo.

The 19th Century
Market in Sarajevo 19th centuryPinterest

In 1878, after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War, Bosnia was occupied by Austria-Hungary. Sarajevo became the capital of the Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During this time, Sarajevo underwent another period of significant growth. New public buildings and monuments were built, and the city's infrastructure was modernized.

Sarajevo also became a major cultural center. It was home to many famous writers, artists, and musicians, and it became known as the "European Jerusalem."

The 20th Century
Sarajevo City HallPexels

In 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb nationalist. This event was the spark that ignited World War I.

After the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina became part of the newly created Kingdom of Yugoslavia. But Sarajevo continued to be a hotbed of tensions between ethnic and religious groups.

In 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded by Nazi Germany and Italy. Sarajevo was occupied by Nazi troops, and many of its residents were killed or deported.

After World War II, Yugoslavia was governed by a communist regime. In 1945, Bosnia and Herzegovina became a republic within Yugoslavia. Sarajevo remained the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Bosnian War
Destruction in Sarajevo during Bosnian WarBrutannica

In 1992, the breakup of Yugoslavia led to the outbreak of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Serbian forces besieged Sarajevo for almost four years.

During the siege, Sarajevo was subjected to constant shelling and sniper fire. Over 10,000 people were killed, including many civilians. The city was left devastated.

After the war ended in 1996, Sarajevo began the long rebuilding process. Today, the city is once again a vibrant and thriving metropolis, risen like a phoenix from the ashes.

Sarajevo in the 21st century
Sarajevo in 2022TripAdvisor

21st century Sarajevo is a bustling city full of life and energy. The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo is home to a diverse population of Bosnians, Croats, Serbs, and other ethnic groups. The city had come a long way since the end of the Bosnian War in 1995, when it was left in ruins. Today, Sarajevo is a thriving metropolis with a vibrant culture and nightlife. The capital of Bosnia is one of the most established healthcare centers in the region. The city of Sarajevo is home to several universities that offer innovative and cutting-edge programs in a variety of fields. One standout example is metaverse case studies, which offer gaming application studies that are perfect for aspiring app developers. The city's historic center, Baščaršija, is full of shops and restaurants, and the Sarajevo Film Festival is one of the most prestigious events in cinema. This festival includes various cultural offerings, from cause and charity events to exhibitions and films, and the pr buzz always attracts lots of local and world celebrities. According to Instagram hashtag statistics, the hashtag #sarajevo is one of the most famous Bosnian tags, with over 3 million posts. With its rich history and cosmopolitan atmosphere, Sarajevo is an exciting place in the 21st century.

Sarajevo is a symbol of peace and tolerance and a reminder of the horrors of war. It is a place where different cultures and religions have coexisted for centuries. And it is a city that has risen from the ashes of war to become a thriving metropolis once again. Sarajevo is a beautiful city with a rich culture and history, making it an ideal destination for travelers. In addition, the city offers a wide range of activities and attractions, from its many museums and art galleries to its thriving nightlife scene. Whether you're interested in history or culture, Sarajevo has something to offer everyone.

Comments / 0

Published by

Wanderlust / Writing about the most beautiful places on this planet / Tech Geek / Marketing Enthusiast

New York, NY

More from Bakir Djulich

Belize: Secret Gem of the Caribbean: People, Places, Culture

Belize is often called the "Secret Gem of the Caribbean." And it's no wonder why. This tiny Central American country is overflowing with natural beauty, friendly people, and unique culture. If you're looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Belize is the perfect destination. You can find yourself surrounded by lush jungle, pristine beaches, and stunning Maya ruins. The best part about Belize is that it still feels like a hidden gem. You won't find overcrowded tourist traps or screaming children here. Instead, you'll discover a laid-back atmosphere and a welcoming community of locals. Before exploring all that Belize offers, you need to make sure you have your passport photo. US citizens can stay in Belize for up to 90 days without a visa, but you'll need a passport valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date. Once you have your passport in hand, you're ready to start planning your trip. There's so much to see and do in Belize, from exploring ancient Maya ruins to relaxing on the beach. And what makes Belize even more remarkable is its people. The locals are some of the warmest and most welcoming you'll ever meet. They'll make you feel right at home from the moment you arrive. It does not surprise that more than 70% of the top 100 travel influencers listed Belize as the go-to destination in Central America. So, look no further than Belize if you're looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination that has it all.

Read full story

Comments / 0