Sarajevo through Eyes of Turkish Merve Gul: A Late Discovery


“Having always carried a huge passion for discovering new lands and cultures, still asking to myself “why did I wait until the summer of 2019 to discover Sarajevo…?” Possibly because I hardly viewed visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina as a “discovery” as I had the perception like many other Turks that the country, its capital and culture were very similar to my own and I’d experienced that a lot of times already so “why the immediate need to go” when I have a lot more options in my plate!,” Merve Gul starts her conversation with Sarajevo Times.

“To some extent it is true but now that I am more involved with this beautiful and intriguing country, I see that it takes a whole new discovery mood and it is exciting. And I was actually really late to wander around this beautiful place!,” Gul adds.

On my first day, the appearance of Sebil struck me like it would any first-time visitor – Sebil and the surrounding Bascarsija are typical examples of traditional towns in Turkey, however they are very few in numbers now and not well-kept like in here after modernization. Being there, seeing the Sebil, put me through an imaginary time tunnel, it was like a scene from an old novel, you close your eyes and imagine yourself there. If I read a novel by Resat Nuri Guntekin, the setting in my imagination would be very similar to Bascarsija… and now I was there.

Wandering around the narrow streets, seeing the copperware shops, the coffee places and all else… I felt a great connection the moment I landed my feet in the old town. To see that many well-wishing words and phrases are borrowed from Turkish and that they are actively spoken made me think how enriching it is to keep your own language and add the finest elements of the Turkish language to it. Hearing those words from the serving ladies of a particular cafe made me feel so warm that I kept turning back to that cafe for my coffee each time throughout my visit!

People I came across during my visits surprised me greatly with their English and their cool attitude which probably is derived from this eclectic mix of cultures!

That mix always brings a mystic touch to people that can be appealing to others.

The heartbreaking memories of the recent history are still felt to be alive in people’s minds and the city itself,  which is surely inevitable. I had the chance to discuss that horrific time with some locals and I felt utterly respectful for their immense pride in their country and its little-known legacy. Their story is not unknown to us however being in that spot, listening to their life experiences makes you say “why – why would such a beautiful little country have to suffer like this..?” As an admirer of the city, I felt happy to see that the citylife and its nightlife do not carry the burden of the past (at least the liveliness covers it) and you can enjoy the social life maybe much better than many touristic places nearby!

I can’t imagine the vibe in Sarajevo Film Festival times and can’t wait to go back around that time in coming years!

All of my interesting encounters possibly took place at cafes – We Turks love tea and coffee in its hottest. This is, I understood, is not the case for Bosnians. They like warm but not hot. Each time I kindly asked for the tea lady to bring a hotter one, I was a little misunderstood and I never got to drink hot tea and coffee!

Their smile and use of Turkish words when they understand you are Turkish give incomparable joy to people like us who were, since childhood, always told of Bosnians’ refined culture and grew to love its people and it shows that the love is reciprocated.

The feeling of connection paved the way for me to read and learn more about Bosnia, to plan more visits even promote it within my circle of friends and further discoveries about this beauty which I am excited to share with you.



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