Coffee With ...

Ibrahim Spahić

Ibrahim Spahić is a poet and an organizer of Sarajevo Winter Festival, and he is involved in the work of many other cultural organizations. 


International Festival Sarajevo Winter has been enriching the cultural scene of Sarajevo for the past 27 years, by bringing, each February, an array of superb artists from all over the world.

At the beginning of our interview, we asked Mr. Spahić where he grew up, and what is his favorite part of Sarajevo?

- I grew up in the center of Sarajevo, ten steps from the Old Orthodox Church. And I am fond of the each step between Kozija ćuprija (Goat's Bridge) and Rimski most (Roman Bridge).

We were interested to find out what is his most memorable image of Sarajevo and what comes to mind when he thinks of the city?

- There is one image that cannot be forgotten. It is an image of Sarajevo when I was a child, in the same neighborhood where I grew up. There was a lot of snowfall that year. It was over one meter high, and I was just a bit taller; only my head was sticking above and the snow was all around me, as if I was swimming in it.

When we touched on walking routes, Mr. Spahić told us that he likes to wander around the mountains surrounding Sarajevo: Bjelašnica, Jahorina, Igman, and Trebević. And when asked which season best fits Sarajevo, he answers:

- All four seasons fit Sarajevo, since the city is like that pizza Quattro Stagioni (Four Seasons). However, this city looks its best during Sarajevo Winter.

From the standpoint of our visitors, the most beautiful view of Sarajevo is provided from within the city, and the most beautiful building is the Palace of Solomon, on Titova (Tito's) Street, where you can still find water tubs for horses.

Mr. Spahić revealed that the place to savor good food is Pod Lipom restaurant, while the best coffee is served in a cafe Baščaršija that has a slogan: ”Ova se kahva tuca i pije, ko može i ko smije.” (This coffee is ground and drunk by those who can and those who dare.) It is the only cafe that serves hand-ground coffee.

He discovers that at times when his mind requires peace, he goes to enjoy the beauty of Skakavac waterfall.

We wanted to know what should every visitor see to get to know Sarajevo in one day?

- A visitor should start by goind to Igman, Jahorina, Trebević or Bjelašnica in early morning hours. Then return to the city and visit City Hall, Museum of Sarajevo at Brusa Bezistan, then cross Miljacka river and visit Konak and the Church of St. Anthony. Then, one should return to the right bank via Latin Bridge and take a break to have coffee at Imaret. After that, a visit to Husref-Bey's Mosque, Madrassah and Hanikah are a must, as well as a brief stop at Morića han. Then, one should visit the Old Orthodox Church, the Jewish Museum, the Cathedral and the Bosniak Institute. A short stroll through Štrosmajerova street will take the visitor by Hotel Central and Hotel Europe, after which a visit to the Orthodox Congregational Church, National Gallery and the First Gymnasium could be appropriate. Then a visitor could cross Miljacka at Drvenija Bridge and go to Ashkenazi Synagogue, then walk along the riverbank to Academy of Fine Arts, cross the Čobanija bridge and walk to Sarajevo Post Office and National Theater. From there one should walk to the Vječna vatra (Eternal Flame) and visit the Ali Pasha's Mosque, St. Joseph Church on Marijin Dvor, National Museum and the Historical Museum, enter Vilsonovo šetalište (Wilson Promenade) and walk all the way to the spring of river Bosna. That is some tour and the one that could only be organized by a legendary tour guide Ibrahim Zildžo.

And at the very end of our conversation, we asked Mr. Spahić to describe Sarajevo in one sentence. This is how she sees it:

- There is a poem that I wrote and which may provide the answer: Sarajevo introduces the stranger to himself and within himself.