In one of Miljenko Jergovic’s stories, a shopkeeper who closes his shop on the first day of spring writes an excuse on the glass of his shop: “We’re closed due to the sun.” After a short flight when I leave the airport, instead of hurrying into a cab and getting away, I start walking. On a shiny day, even it is winter, Sarajevo tells you how beautiful a city can be in winter. As if it is proving Jergovic sentences.
Watching the buildings that carry traces of war from the glass of the bus, I take after the walk upsets me at first but fortunately, having witnessed the longest siege of the modern history of war, Sarajevo has been living a peaceful and quiet life since 1995. The heart of the city beats in Başçarşı, which is an Ottoman bazaar dating back to the 15th century. The bazaar begins with Sebil Çeşmesi (“Public Fountain”) which is one of the symbolic structures and continues with narrow and colorful streets, mosques, churches, inns and covered bazaars.
Like every traveler with limited time who is wired to see as much as possible, I take a quick tour around the colorful streets of Başçarşı and take a coffee break. A little bit more meticulous in service than that of Turkish coffee, Bosnian coffee is only one of the tens of habits left from Ottoman times. Maybe that’s why one has the pleasure of not feeling like a stranger, although he is in a completely different country. Not only coffee, but the cuisine and even the whole Başçarşı strengthen this feeling. With every step you take in the bazaar, you can encounter many examples of Ottoman architecture – Gazi Hüsrev Bey Mosque, Bursa Bazaar, Morica Inn, Clock Tower, etc.
Sarajevo is a city situated along the coast of Miljacka River, and due to the view of the plain seen from the palace on the hill, it was named in Ottoman as “Saray-Ova” (“Palace-Plain”). It’s believed that the name Sarajevo comes from here, which is the equivalent of the name of the city in many languages. The Latin Bridge, situated on the part of the river that’s closer to Başçarşı, has great significance in history. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand which caused the World War I, took place on this bridge.
written by Berrak Harman, photo by Engin Guneysu