Mirsad Sijarić

We have all the pre-conditions for living well

Founded in February 1888, the National Museum of BiH now houses ∼3 million valuable items. Historian Mirsad Sijarić, the museum's acting director, holds a PhD in archeology and he sees this institution as a mirror of BiH and the best place to visit in Sarajevo.


He sees the museum's grand building as a center for archeology, ethnography and natural history, and an ideal example of the planned construction done by a great monarchy.

- This is a good example of how large states and empires, in keeping with their own ideals and goals, changed the look of a given society. So today, in the city center, Sarajevans have the largest object of this kind in former Yugoslavia, plus an oasis – a botanical garden where one can escape the buzz of town and read a book in peace.

Between Two Empires

As for souvenirs, he thinks the best ones are Between Two Empires, a monograph published by the museum, and artwork by Aleksandra Nina Knežević.

He says Sarajevo is a special city, one full of contrasts, whose rich history and traditions can be seen on the streets and in everyday life.

- This “time capsule” is a totally different city; there aren’t many like it in Europe, and it “takes” tourists through different civilizations in no time.

He is very proud of the archeological sites from different time periods. As the boundaries of empires were constantly shifting, there was always a need for new fortifications.

- There are more than 300 fortified towns and settlements in BiH, some of which date back to the prehistoric, medieval or Ottoman periods. They are our treasure.

Forgotten cities

Mirsad says everyone should explore deserted and forgotten towns, some of which are royal towns.

- Be sure to visit Ostrožac, Bužimski Grad, Kraljeva Sutjeska, Bobovac, Blagaj's old town above the tekke, with its superb view of the Neretva Valley....

He’s delighted that all roads out of Sarajevo lead up to thick forests; and he’s fond of mahalas, whose old houses, with their courtyards and flowers, respect the privacy of neighbors.

- The best example of this way of life is Svrzo House, a museum that tells a special story about Islamic civilization and the culture of this area. I recommend Gallery 11/07/95, which testifies to the Srebrenica tragedy.

He feels that major festivals like SFF, MESS...say the most about the quality of festival life in Sarajevo. 

His favorite restaurants are Noovi, with its experimental cooking and great wines; Avlija, where he enjoys home cooking and the intimate ambiance of a small space filled with flowers, and Žigo Buregdžinica.

He describes BiH as a small, intriguing country with enormous possibilities, mountain chains, national parks and different climates.

- If we are wise in making good use of our potentials, and exploit nature as little as possible, we have all of the preconditions for living well. I often head up to Bjelašnica, Treskavica, Igman, or around Herzegovina...for a bike ride.