Hope for Sarajevo

Sarajevo is a city of hope. Walking through the city, you can see the traditional cultural & religious diversity of four religions that have co-existed here for centuries. Sarajevo was never split into ethnic ghettos and Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Jews lived side-by-side earning it the nickname, the "Jerusalem of Europe".
In contrast, Sarajevo has been at the center of two war-related historical events. The corner deemed where World War I started with the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, is now a monumented tourist history lesson. The second event is the entire city of Sarajevo itself which withstood the longest siege of a city in the history of modern warfare (1,425 days long) during the 1990's Bosnian War. Despite the grimness of the horrors endured, Sarajevo is now a city on the rebound. Another Bosnian city where I received one of the warmest welcomes by its citizens looking to the future.
Ottoman Old Town
Although settlement in this valley along the Miljacka River surrounded by the Dinaric Alps stretches back to prehistoric times, the modern city of Sarajevo arose as an Ottoman stronghold in the 15th century. The cluster of villages in the area were transformed into a settlement with the Ottoman Empire building of a mosque, a closed marketplace, a public bath, a hostel, and the governor's citadel ("Saray"). As the settlement continued to grow around the citadel, the city of Sarajevo was officially founded in 1461, the name derived from Turkish saray ovası, meaning the "field around saray". By the 16th century, Sarajevo became known for its large marketplace and over 100 mosques. Sarajevo was the biggest and most important Ottoman city in the Balkans after Istanbul. By 1660, the population of Sarajevo was estimated to be over 80,000 (compared to Belgrade at 12,963 inhabitants and Zagreb at 14,000 people). In 1697, the Great Turkish War began between the Hapsburg Monarchy against the Ottoman Empire. Sarajevo was looted & suffered several fires leaving the city charred and plague-infected. By 1807, it had only some 60,000 residents. The Baščaršija (Old Town) today has several mosques, the market halls (one dating from 1551), Coppersmiths' Street (Kazandziluk) where craftsmen still work today, and traditional food including Ćevapi and Burek.

Division from Ottoman to Hapsburg
With the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire, Sarajevo came under Austria-Hungary control in 1878 as part of the Treaty of Berlin. While so many cities have layers of history, in Sarajevo, the line is clear – literally. The Hapsburg buildings arose extending the city. Though the residents of different religions still lived intermingled, the building styles are distinct as the city grew from the Old Town. From the line in the pavement, you can look one way and have visions of a street scene in Istanbul. Then turn 180 degrees and see a street scene in Vienna. In my pics, you can see the same guy in the green shirt in both pics walking toward me and away from me as I turned and took the pictures.

Hapsburg Quarter
Austria-Hungary used the city as a testing area for new inventions before installing them in Vienna. In 1885, Sarajevo was the first city in Europe and the second city in the world, following San Francisco, to have a full-time electric tram network running through the city. There is a replica of the trolley that runs on the line today AND the one that I by chance rode upon arrival into the city from the train to my hotel. I was bewildered that this was the size of the tram system until I realized it was a special car. The trolley plays a traditional tune and it was all quite charming despite the packed car full of stinky backpackers who piled on with me.