today: a meeting of cultures

bjelasnica1

Mount Bjelašnica, only 20 minutes from Sarajevo, is a popular tourist attraction for hiking and skiing

Bosnia & Herzegovina has stunningly beautiful scenery and wonderfully hospitable people. In fact, it is one of the most frequently visited countries in the Balkan region and is projected to have the third highest tourism growth rate in the world between 1995 and 2020. Bosnia and Herzegovina is regionally and internationally renowned for its natural beauty and cultural heritage and cuisine inherited from six historical civilizations, winter sports, and eclectic and unique musicarchitecture, and festivals, some of which are the largest and most prominent of their kind in Southeastern Europe.

meeting of cultures

Because of its long, rich history of religious and cultural variety, Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo has sometimes been called the “Jerusalem of Europe.” On my first walk through Sarajevo’s old city, I fell in love with the beautiful and complex mixing of cultures that has occurred in Bosnia over the last centuries.

The pavement reads “Sarajevo Meeting of Cultures” on Ferhadija St. near Gazi Husrev Bey’s Bezistan, an Ottoman-era covered bazaar. This is the spot where two dominant cultures that once shaped Sarajevo merge. If you stand at the inscription and look eastward, you’ll see the Baščaršija (the old city) with its Ottoman architecture, aromas, and cuisine. But if you take a step across the “Meeting of Cultures” to the West, you’ll enter another culture entirely, one clearly Western, European, and “Christian.” This architecture was built during the Austro-Hungarian period, complete with a beautiful cathedral, orthodox church, and synagogue.

West

Looking West from the inlaid “Sarajevo Meeting of Cultures”

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