Lejla Panjeta

Sarajevo is everything all wrapped up into one

Lejla Panjeta is a director, professor of film studies and visual arts, and Director of Sarajevo Youth Theater, which has recently been renovated and adapted for those with special needs. The theater is preparing a full program for the upcoming season.


As we began our chat over coffee, Lejla shared that she thinks it is very important that, as of late, more is being invested in culture and sports, because these fields strengthen the country and civic awareness.

- We need to continue to make cultural events accessible and universal, they should be translated into English and there should be access for people with special needs.

She says Sarajevo is a small city that pretends to be big. Due to this, throughout history, it has been a turbulent place, with struggles for power and dominance.

A place of encounters and a melding of differences

- The suffering has turned it into a place of encounters and a melding of differences. Since this is a small city, there’s nowhere to run from “the other” or “the different,” it has to be accepted and embraced as one’s own. Sarajevo is everything all wrapped up into one, a city that accepts foreign identities and where all are welcome.

She stresses that she is always delighted by the mingling of church bells and the muezzin’s call.

- Sarajevo is full of attractions that exude history, natural beauty and a real spirit, like Baščaršija, Bey's Mosque, the Franciscan and Orthodox churches, synagogue, Trebević, Bjelašnica, Vrelo Bosne, Wilson’s Promenade, the cable car, Pionirska Dolina...

Lejla thinks Sarajevo is beautiful in every season, whether one visits for a festival or without any special plan in mind.

- We need to popularize legends, like the one about the Seven Brothers; we have great theaters, Olympic Mountains and so much untapped potential, like healing waters, climate resorts….

As a ski jumping fan, she often goes to Igman, and follows figure skating at Zetra in winter.

- I hope the Olympic ski jump ramp will be repaired soon, so that we can again enjoy world ski jumpers up on the mountains around Sarajevo.

The bear and butterflies

- The National Museum offers a relaxing and real museum atmosphere, the likes of which can be found nowhere else in the world in such a small space. The natural history museums in Vienna, London or Paris are too digitized and sterile, but the stuffed bear and mounted butterflies at the museum never fail to delight.

Lejla usually gives friends and business partners Sarajevo windows from Melanie Gift Shop and copper coffee sets from Kazandžiluk St.

She says that ćevapi are our “fast food,” and she eats hers at Željo, and Kibe Mahala serves food grandma would make. 

- I take guests to places that serve great food, like: Hadžibajrić Aščinica, Pizzeria Roma, Trattoria Uno, Druga Kuća, Magarac, Luka Sarajevo, Pod Lipom, Kula, Toplik..., and then to Palma for cakes and Aroma Cafe for coffee. I highly recommend Tito and Obala for casual drinks.