Scars Turned into Roses: Sarajevo & Mostar

Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is situated a few hours’ drive out from both Split and Dubrovnik. If you choose to take the bus or train there, you will often find yourself transiting through picturesque Mostar, located only one hour from the Croatian border. Bosnia and Herzegovina has come a long way from its turbulent past, and is a country well worth visiting.


The scars from the Bosnian War, which took place between 1992 and 1995, are still very visible especially in Sarajevo. Yet, at the beginning of the city center you can find the Eternal Flame, which is actually a memorial to the victims of the Second World War in Sarajevo. The flame has been burning non-stop since 1946.

• Eternal flame.

However, once you move closer into the city center, you can’t help but notice almost all buildings have bullet holes. Throughout the city you can also find many Sarajevo Roses; damages to concrete left by mortar shells, later filled up with red resin.

• One of many Sarajevo Roses.

Yet, Sarajevo moved on, and nowadays the city is as alive as any other capital. We stopped by the Pijaca Markale, a fruit- and vegetable market where most locals do their grocery shopping. We stopped to observe the trading, and get some delicious raspberries to nibble on.

• Pijaca Markale, the local fruit- and vegetable market.

We stopped at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, a beautiful church constructed in the late 19th century. After the war, in which it got heavily damaged, it was fully reconstructed.

• Sacred Heart Cathedral.

On the north side of the city you can find the impressive Mosquée de Baščaršija, built in the 16th century.

• Mosquée de Baščaršija.

Many people won’t know, but the First World War actually started in Sarajevo, on the Latin Bridge to be precise. It was here that in 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, eventually leading to the Austrian-Hungarian empire declaring war on Serbia. Many countries in Europe took different sides, starting World War I.

• Latin Bridge.

By now, we arrived at Baščaršija square, the cultural center of Sarajevo. It is home to a wooden fountain, built back in 1753. It is also the place for locals to get together and exchange stories.

• Baščaršija square, with its wooden fountain, the Sebilj.

Behind the square, you can find many small alleyways, lined with workshops and small independent restaurants. If you know where to go, you can find fantastic tea, börek, and crafts. It is an area well worth exploring, as you never know what treasure you may find.

• Small shops in the historic center.


The small city of Mostar is famous for its picturesque bridge. We arrived at the Mostar bus station, and had 90 minutes to spare before catching our next bus. Just enough time to walk to the city center, take a picture of the bridge, and get back on the bus.

Walking towards the bridge, we passed the Karađoz Bey Mosque. Built in 1557, it was reconstructed after the Bosnian War, and reopened in 2004. It is the biggest mosque in the region.

• Karađoz Bey Mosque.

Mostar attracts tons of tourists during the Summer, and therefore there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and hotels on the main street. Towards the end of the main street you can find many workshops selling arts and crafts.

• Historical center of Mostar.

Eventually, as long as you keep following the main street, you end up at the Stari Most, the Old Bridge. The view of the bridge, mountains, and crystal clear river from the cobblestone street is breathtaking.

• View over the old center and Stari Most, the Old Bridge.

The bridge connects the two parts of the city, bridging the Neretva river. The bridge was destroyed during the war, but completely rebuilt. Originally, it first opened in 1566. Nowadays, it is considered the prime example of Balkan-Islamic architecture. We quickly walked down to the river banks, before rushing back to the bus station. Ninety minutes well spent!

• Stari Most from the Neretva river.

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We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.

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