Bosnia & Herzegovina
Broken hearts and broken bridges have characterized the recent past of this Balkan country. After seceding from former Yugoslavia, civil war ensued, with everybody fighting everybody. The Serbs gained the upper-hand and atrocities followed in ‘liberated’ areas. After years of fighting a peace-agreement was finally agreed upon, which has held until this day. The broken bridges have been rebuilt, the broken hearts will take longer to heal.
It’s not the first time shots were fired in Bosnia with far reaching consequences. It was in Sarajevo that the opening volleys of the First World War (aka The Great War) were fired, when a young Serb shot the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, which ended up dragging the whole of aristocratic Europe into war with each other. So much for its history, let’s look at the present. Political inertia and high unemployment have led to grumbling and protests as of late. But it is not all doom and gloom. Peace there is, and tourist have returned.
And why not? There is plenty to see and do, and the mish-mash of cultures has not only led to war, but also to a diversity of food, architecture, religions, and traditions. East meets West here, not only East as in Ottoman or Asian, but also East as in Eastern Orthodox and Russian, with the West being Croatian and Austrian influences, and Catholicism. You will find mosques, Catholic churches and Orthodox monasteries, medieval castles, and small villages. All set in a gorgeous landscape of craggy mountains, deep gorges, raging blue rivers, and fertile valleys. Perfect for hiking, rafting, or in winter, skiing. And there is even a minuscule portion of Adriatic coast you can visit, if you are simply dying for the sea.
What are you waiting for? Hop on down to Bosnia and Herzegovina!
Highlights from Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Walk through Sarajevo’s (aka Сарајево) restored historic centre, visit the Tunnel Museum or the Bosnian Historical Museum to get an impression of the siege of Sarajevo in the 90’s, then stroll out into the light again and take in the views of present Sarajevo from one of the many hills surrounding it
- Go to Mostar (Мостар), with its iconic bridge, destroyed during the civil war, now rebuilt and once again uniting the different communities
- Ski in Jahorina (aka Јахорина), or Bjelašnica ski resort, a stone throw away from Sarajevo
- Visit pretty and little visited Stolac
- If you are desperate for the Adriatic, Neum (aka Неум) is situated on Bosnia’s 20 kilometer stretch of coastline
- Wander around Počitelj (aka Почитељ) an Ottoman era village
- Look at Višegrads (aka Вишеград) UNESCO heritage bridge, the Mehmed paša Sokolović Bridge
- Get down to Bihač (aka Бихаћ), and use it as a base for rafting down the Una River, hiking Una National Park, or simply visiting some of the castles and villages along its banks
- See what Bosnia’s ‘Open Air Museum’ is all about, another name for Јаjce (aka Јајце), a fortified old town with a 17 meter tall waterfall tumbling down the centre, nearby are mountains, pretty lakes and canyons
- For a glimpse of Bosnian Catholicism make your way to Fojnica with the Holy Spirit Franciscan Monastery as center piece
Hints and Tips for Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Landmines are still an issue, so keep to the paths and signs, and listen to local advice.
- Whether Muslim, Catholic or Orthodox, Bosnians are secular.
- There are three official languages in Bosnia Herzegovina, Croat, Bosnian and Serb, though the younger generation will generally be able to speak some English, while German and French might also be spoken.
- The term Bosniak refers mainly to the Muslim ethnicity, while Bosnian means anybody from Bosnia and Herzegovina, be they Serb, Croat or Bosniak.