Sarajevo Off The Beaten Path

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  • Off The Beaten Path
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  • Off The Beaten Path
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Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Sarajevo

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    Sarac Hajdarova Dzamija

    by mikey_e Written Feb 3, 2009
    Sarac Hajdarova Dzamija
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    This is yet another mosque about which I know very little - except that it was likely built in the middle of the 16th century. Nevertheless, it's an interesting structure, one that is crowded in by the various houses of Mejtas and Bjelave. In addition to the old stone fountain outfront - the sebilj - what caught my fancy was the interesting minaret, which has a beautiful wooden balcony. Other than that, I don't know what else to say...

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    Mejtaš Park

    by mikey_e Written Feb 3, 2009
    The park in Mejtas
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    I don't know the official name of this park, so please don't quote me on the name I've used as the title for my tip! On the other hand, if you do know the name, please e-mail so that I can change the title. I came upon this extremely interesting green space on my way from Kosevo to Bascarsija. It is along Marsala Tito, just before the bifurcation, and there is not a good view into the park from the street, which is why you might be forgiven passing it by. Nevertheless, what makes this park so interesting is that there is apparently an old Muslim cemetery along this hill. Unlike so many of the other cemeteries in Sarajevo, many of the graves here are quite old and deserve as much attention from those interested in Ottoman art as from those with an interest in the city's history. The park is also a favourite hang out of teenagers, so be prepared to be annoyed by the period shrieks and screaming, but the chance to see this side of the city's heritage is well worth the annoyance.

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    Seher-Cehajina cuprija

    by mikey_e Written Feb 3, 2009
    Seher-Cehajina cuprija
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    The Seher-Cehajina cuprija was built during the Ottoman period and is now a national monument. The current structure was built in 1620, although it is the third structure in this place: the first was a Slavic structure then replaced in the 1580s by the Ottomans. It was designed in the sort of classical Ottoman style of bridges, with its smooth, even arches. The story behind this bridge is that, in 1610, then Seher Cehaj of the city, Hadzi Husein Hodzic, had it built when his son left for Istanbul and vowed never to return to the city. Upon his father's death, however, the Hadzi's son returned and was declared Seher Cehaj.

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    Skenderija

    by mikey_e Written Feb 3, 2009

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    Austo-Hungarian building
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    Skenderija is another one of the neighbourhoods in Sarajevo, and it is likely that you will visit it if you amble around the old city. It lies just across the Miljacka from the Austro-Hungarian extension of the old city, and is a pretty and leisurely part of town. Despite the number of Ottoman mosques in the district, the bulk of the architecture here appears to be from the Austro-Hungarian time period, something that should be pretty obvious given the names of streets like Austrijski trg. The beautiful buildings house numerous consulates and embassies, such as the German, Turkish and Iranian ones, so you will have to be smart about taking pictures here – make sure no one is watching! There are also some quite interesting designs, inspired by the various pseudo-Moorish trends that were popular in Austria around the turn of the century. Skenderija is also a bit of a Bohemian area of Sarajevo, and part of this is because of the large presence of university buildings here, among which is the Fine Arts Faculty right on the river. This means that, unlike the right bank of the Miljacka, this part of the left bank has river-side cafes packed with young people and students, and that the atmosphere here is decidedly much more liberal than in Bascarsija (low cut tops are more popular than the hijab set-up). This is a very fun and lively place, and if you’re feeling like you need a bit of a break from the “Oriental” atmosphere of Bascarsija (which can, admitted, sometimes feel stale and forced), head over the Mediterranean cafés of Skenderija.

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    Džamija Hadži Mehmed Baliæ

    by mikey_e Written Feb 3, 2009

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    The porch of the mosque
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    Džamija Hadži Mehmed Baliæ (I think that that’s the name of this mosque) is a quaint 16th century mosque on the border between Kovaèi and Vratnik. It must be quite old, but it has been maintain (or possibly restored) to much better shape since the war. It is a partially wooden mosque that, while having many Ottoman characteristics, also reminded me a bit of wooden Orthodox churches, like the kind in Russia. Nevertheless, this small mosque has a porch and a short but noticeable minaret. It is located on a side street on the climb up to the city’s fortifications, and it is not open to the public for visits. Nevetheless, it makes for a great set of pictures, something that you are unlikely to see anywhere other than in this wooden, mountainous part of the Balkans.

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    Mejtaš and Bjelave

    by mikey_e Written Feb 3, 2009

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    One of the mosques
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    Mejtaš and Bjelave are two neighbourhoods of Sarajevo that lie to the north of the Bascarsija district. They are not particularly remarkable for their architecture, although you will find some interesting examples of Austro-Hungarian buildings here, particularly if what interests you is the sort of “colonial rot” look that you usually only find in places like the Caribbean. This part of the city, of course, has its own share of Ottoman mosques, some of which are actually quite interesting, especially those with their own sebilji or fountains out front. The streets here are narrow and steep in places, but that just means that this is another part of the city in which you will be able to get great views of the mountains and the Bascarsija from above. Also, given that it is outside of the core and away from the usual tourist haunts, more than a few structures here have yet to be repaired since the war. If you are interested in seeing some of the destruction (I know, it is a bit of a morbid suggestion, but one, nevertheless, that I am sure will appeal to more than a few people from Western countries) you can wander around here and gawk at the bombed out houses.

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    Vratnik Cemetery

    by mikey_e Updated Feb 2, 2009

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    Vratnicko Groblje
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    I often think of Sarajevo as a city of cemeteries, if only because it seems that so many open areas in the urban core have been taken up as plots for those who died during the Civil War in 1992-95. Many thousands of people lost their lives during the siege, whether as combatants or as civilians, and both hygiene concerns and Muslim custom would require them to be buried quickly and close by (since it likely would have taken too long to move the bodies outside of the city’s core). The Vratnik cemetery is a small one compared to Koševo groblje, but it is interesting because of the way in which it is built on a slope. It has many markers indicating that the person buried there is a Šahid or martyr (from the Arabic term), so in a way this can be seen as a soldiers’ cemetery. There is also a modest monument for the martyrs of the Young Muslims, a nationalist organization that began as an opposition group to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and also a partisan group during WWII.

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    Zeljeznica

    by mikey_e Updated Feb 2, 2009

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    Zeljeznica river
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    The Zeljeznica is a small river that comes off of the Bosna, the longest river in Bosnia. Unlike the Miljacka, it doesn’t split the city of Sarajevo in two, but it does snake its way through part of Ilidža, in the western end of the city. There are some pretty little houses and some not so pretty apartment blocks that line the sides of the stream past the railway tracks (that is, you have to go under them when you come from the main tram terminal in Ilidza), but for the most part this area seems quite sparsely inhabited. I don’t know if the various construction sites are the products of reconstruction or just natural growths, but it doesn’t seems like the natural beauty of the stream and its surroundings will be damaged anytime soon. You can evidently catch fish in the river – I saw someone fishing when I was walking – but I don’t know what you can expect to catch, of if it is legal/accepted by the locals.

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    Dzamija Kralja Fahda

    by mikey_e Written Feb 2, 2009

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    King Fahd Mosque
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    For those who doubt the true sway of the Saudi government and Saudi donors in the Balkans, I suggest a short trip along tramline 3 to Ilidža. Along the way you will pass the King Fahd Mosque – Džamija Kralja Fahda – a huge structure that is located on the edge of Novi Sarajevo, amongst the apartment blocks and rather ugly Communist-era structures. This mosque doesn’t really correspond to the architecturally pleasing Ottoman structures, which appear to be simple but are even more appealing once you truly investigate the beauty of their detail. I didn’t stop at the Mosque – I just took snap shots from the tramway – so I don’t know what it’s like inside or whether you can visit it if you are not a worshipper. Nevertheless, it is a huge structure that is hard to miss, a sign of who the new greatest Muslim influence in the Balkans is.

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    Ilidža

    by mikey_e Written Feb 2, 2009

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    Bombed put pretty
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    Perhaps I made the wrong choice, but I decided, on the last afternoon I had in Sarajevo, to take a trip out to Ilidza, which is the very end of line 3 on the street car. I got this idea because of a woman I met on the train into Sarajevo, who suggested that one of the prettiest natural beauty spots was where the Zeljeznica River met the Miljecka, so naturally I thought that the best way to get there would be to simply go out to Ilidza and search around with my map. Needless to say, it would have taken a lot of walking to get there, and I ended up not making it to the confluence of the rivers. Instead, I got to see a less glamorous, but still pretty and interesting, part of the city. Ilidza is a sort of residential and industrial area that is actually much cleaner and nicer than suburbs in a lot of other Eastern European capitals. In fact, as I later learned, this is a part of the city that is renowned for its tranquility and beautiful surroundings, not least because the absence of many tall buildings allows for views of the mountains and forests that surround the area. The area has long been inhabited, in part because of the Vrelo Bosne spring, which I didn’t get to visit, and which was visited by Saints Cyril and Methodius on their trip through Bosnia.

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    Bistrik

    by mikey_e Written Feb 2, 2009

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    Bistrik
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    Bistrik is one of the historic neighbourhoods of the Old City of Sarajevo, separated from the Bascarsija district by the Miljecka. It was, allegedly, once the Catholic section of the city, and this is, indeed, where the Franciscan church is found. However, this is also where you will find the Emperor’s Mosque (Careva Dzamija), so it cannot have been a staunchly Catholic area. Nevertheless, Bistrik doesn’t challenge Bascarsija and the connected Austro-Hungarian parts of the Old City in terms of the variety historic monuments to attact visitors. It appears to have benefitted considerably less from the reconstruction monies donated by both Western and Arab donors, and many of the streets are in poor shape. Still, it is a fun place to visit, if only because you really get to see how average people in Sarajevo live and, best of all, there are some great views into the Old City if you feel up to the hike. The people of Bistrik (Bistrikci?) are fairly friendly too – although a postman felt the need to tell me that I was sweating like a Serbian pig (I think it was a joke).

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    Monument to Sarajevo Police

    by mikey_e Written Jan 29, 2009

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    Monument to the police

    Here in the shade of a large tree, off to the side of the Trg oslobodjenja, there is a small but interesting monument dedicated to the police force of the capital of the newly independent Bosnia and Hercegovina. It is interesting because of the shape – a fleur de lis, which is effectively the traditional symbol of the Bosanjacki population (sort of like the cross with the fours S of the Serbs). It is interesting because this was evidently erected by the city’s Muslim population, but is in memory of the police force that defended the city and kept order during the siege, and presumably not 100% of the police were of pure Muslim origin.

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    Sarajevo's roses

    by mikey_e Written Jan 28, 2009

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    Sarajevo Rose

    One of the problems with trying to rebuild a city in which hundreds of thousands of people live is that you often have to resort to quick, stop-gap measures to make the city liveable before you can complete comprehensive restorations. One such stop-gap measure was the use of red rubber to fill the scars left by mortars on the streets of Sarajevo. These red splotches, euphemistically known as “roses” are much fewer now in the centre, but there are a couple that you can see along Marsala Tito. It seems odd to be taking a picture of the street, especially in a city where most people seem to want to forget the war and get on with their lives, but it is still interesting for those of us who live in places that have been lucky enough not to witness the horrors of war and butchery for several decades or even centuries.

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    Skenderija

    by kirmarsh Written Sep 26, 2007

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    Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Olympics and left over of from that is the Skenderija now a rather run down and sorry looking building which is used as a shopping centre. It is however an important part of the history of this city’s happier history.

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    Tunnel Museum

    by kirmarsh Written Sep 26, 2007

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    During the siege this tunnel was built to provide a means of getting in and out of the city food, water, people, and weapons were all moved though this tunnel it was a life line for the city there was no other way of getting in or out of the city. It now a museum run by the owners of the house you watch a video, walk though a small section of the tunnel and listen to a talk about the experiences of those who lived though the siege. It gives a very personal perspective on the siege and the war it is incredibly moving and informative. And I would say a must for all visitors to the city.

    There are a number of ways to get to the museum. You can take one of the tours from the city centre they are about 12 euros or you can catch a tram to ilidza and then a taxi, you may be able to negotiate a fare with a taxi driver to take you there and back. If you are driving be warned it is really hard to find.

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