Jovan Divjak

Sarajevo was saved by its women

Jovan Divjak, retired BiH Army general and French Legion of Honor recipient says he is proud of Sarajevo, “his love,” as well as the generations of youth that have passed through Education Builds BiH, which he founded and directs.


Uncle Jovo, as he is fondly called by many, is an April 6th Award recipient (2005), the highest honor given by the City of Sarajevo to influential individuals, groups and collectives. His association, which marks its 25th anniversary this year, received the award in 2016.

Education Builds BiH

- The association was founded in 1994, during the war, with the aim of supporting more vulnerable groups of children, for they should be exposed to good books, trips, the arts, and cultural and sporting activities at an early age. This ensures a higher quality of education and the development of civil society.

He sees Sarajevo as a special city because of its centuries-long existence, how East and West merge here, and for its multicultural and multi-confessional nature.

- One should visit the places of worship for four of the world’s faiths, as well as the Jewish cemetery. And Vijećnica, the Historical Museum and National Museum, the Old Orthodox Church Museum, the War Childhood Museum and Svrzo House should be visited. The last one shows how people lived here for over 500 years.

He sees great natural and human potential in Sarajevo, but he says that only after living here for many years can one truly come to feel its emotions.

- During the Siege of the ‘90s, soldiers defended Sarajevo, but it was the ladies of Sarajevo who saved the city with their many efforts. It’s only right to honor them with a monument to the women of Sarajevo.

He says that one can learn many intriguing things at our cultural institutions, and that most of the activities are compatible with those promoted by the EU.


- The universities founded after WWII also make Sarajevo a student town. We’re the only ones in BiH with an opera, and Kinoteka hides a treasure trove of world film. The city has a great cultural life, with a tradition of successful festivals. The only downside is that everything happens in town, so the periphery is neglected.

Old trades

Jovan says tourists should take a spin on the Trebević cable car and enjoy a view of Sarajevo, or do so from some of the old forts, like Bijela Tabija or Žuta Tabija.

- Upon returning to the city, one should enjoy Sarajevo ćevabdžinicas and the restaurants, Klopa, Kibe Mahala, Kod Bibana, Pod Lipom.... Bey’s soup, burek, other pies and sogan dolma are must-tries; and tufahija, baklava or kadaif satisfy a sweet tooth.

Sarajevo needs to showcase the remaining old trades and the artisans who keep them alive. This includes Sarajevo’s only lady watchmaker, Lamija Saračević, and the coppersmiths in Baščaršija who make trays with engravings of the most important places of worship – great souvenirs from this city.