A brief History of the Sarajevo cafés: 500 Years long Tradition


Do you know that the oldest Sarajevo café was opened nearly 500 years ago? It was in 1534, and those acquainted say that it was as much as 120 years before London and other European cities. This Sarajevan one was opened immediately after the café in Istanbul, and was located on Bentbaša.

In these areas, drinking coffee is much more than just consuming a hot beverage. It is a ritual that, first of all, implies dedicated time, a real interlocutor, and an adequate place. What will be found in the cup, it seems, is the least important for ‘’going for a coffee’’. This, besides coffee, can be any soft drink, and sometimes even alcoholic.

The Austro-Hungarian builders, who succeeded the Ottomans, began to make new streets with their architecture, that is, part of these main streets slowly and almost imperceptibly changed from Bosnian houses to beautiful buildings.

Thus, in Sarajevo, the most beautiful street, Čekaluša, the present Marsal Tito, was built, which connects with Ferhadija and extends towards Baščaršija. That main street has its history and story.

The Austro-Hungarians built the first hotel, the “Grand” and “Europe”, and later located the Zemaljska Banka. The building was designed by Karl Paržik and Josip Vancaš. It was the beginning of the birth of a special and new experience that, fortunately, we still see today. Few of these spaces have been successfully preserved such as Tito and Ferhadija streets.

People usually go for a coffee by day, while the evening hours are reserved for ‘’let’s go out’’ (‘’hajmo izać’’’) or ‘’let’s go somewhere for a beer’’ (‘’hajmo negdje na pivu’’). In this case as well, the context is much more important than what is being consumed from the glass.

The citizens of BH cities are real experts in socializing and creating good atmosphere in a café. Sarajevo cafés and bars in the second half of the 20th century have been known throughout the borders of the former Yugoslavia as the places where the pop culture was being born.

The first café in Sarajevo was Gong, and it was opened by the famous Sarajevo boxer Šaban Bane Toskić. Gong was located in the transverse street by the Academy of Arts, and worked until the beginning of the siege.

There is also the legendary Parkuša, under the real name of Café Park, in the very center of the city. As an inseparable part of this café, there was a so-called Hippie bench next to it, where the youth was sitting even when they did not have money for the café.

Let’s remember the cafés and bars that were the most popular at the time:

Stari Sat, Nava, Dedan, Đerdan, Estrada, Scotch, Dionis, Teatar, Đerdan, Rock, ’84, Mond, Nava, Pike, Dedan, Kod Lisca, Kogo, Muppet, Nail, Višnja, Jagoda, Ćumez, Jockey, Mod, Kod Čenge,  Zvono, Bistro, Lotos, Crvena galerija..


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