Sarajevo In Brief

Sarajevo is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina and serves as its administrative, economic, university and cultural center. The largest area of town lies at the foot of Mt. Trebević and the Miljacka River flows through the city.


“Destination Sarajevo” encompasses the city of Sarajevo and the wider Sarajevo Canton (which is located in the Federation of BiH, one of BiH’s entities), as well as the municipalities which are part of the neighboring parts of town and East Sarajevo (which is located in the Republic of Srpska, another BiH entity).

Many archaeological finds testify to the fact that the area taken in by Sarajevo was inhabited even during the Neolithic period. There is also evidence that the Illyrians were here and the medieval town of Hodidjed was located in what is now part of “Destination Sarajevo”. Nonetheless, the name Sarajevo comes from the Turkish words, saray = palace and ovasi = field, and this certainly points to the fact that it was founded by the Ottomans, when the Turkish governor, Isa Bey Ishaković, founded Sarajevo in the 15th century as the seat of Ottoman power for this region.

Those who take a stroll through Sarajevo will notice four distinct types of architecture, which reflect the city’s different historical periods.

The foundations of Sarajevo were laid during the first 150 years of Turkish rule and it was during this time that many architectural jewels were constructed, such as Gazi Husrev Bey’s Mosque, the Emperor’s Mosque, the Old Orthodox Church and Baščaršija, which was once a grand marketplace. At the beginning of the 17th century, Sarajevo grew into a vibrant community of craftsmen which served as a major trading center and later became one of the most important cities in the European part of the Ottoman Empire.

Another period that saw architecture flourish coincided with Austro-Hungarian occupation at the end of the 19th century and lasted until the First World War started in 1914. The modernization of Sarajevo included the installation of a public transport system, the first telephone line, etc. There were also many cultural and educational institutions that were founded, such as the National Museum and the National Theater. Other additions to the fast-growing city included Vijećnica (City Hall), the Aškenazi Synagogue and the Cathedral of Jesus’ Heart. Sarajevo’s development came to a halt on June 28, 1914, when Gavrilo Princip assassinated Franz Ferdinand, the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne, and his wife Sophie. This set off a series of unfortunate events which eventually led to the outbreak of World War I.

At the end of the First World War, Sarajevo became part of the newly-formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and it remained part of this state, which was later re-named the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, until the beginning of the Second World War, when it became part of the new Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Sarajevo experienced massive damage during the Second World War so it didn’t simply undergo major reconstruction during the post-war years, but also enjoyed tremendous growth.
By 1984, when it hosted the 14th Winter Olympic Games, Sarajevo had become a modern city with a population of more than 500,000.

Sadly, the Olympic flame burned only too briefly. Only eight years after hosting the Olympics, Sarajevo found itself caught in another flame, when the fire of war broke out in BiH in 1992, leaving destruction in its wake until 1995.

The fourth architectural period is represented by the modern, post-war era. In recent years, the metropolitan area associated with “Destination Sarajevo” has experienced rapid development. For its inhabitants, this makes it a better place to live, and for its growing numbers of visitors, it’s a better place to visit!

Sarajevo has a mild continental climate. The average temperatures reach 19.1°C (66°F) in summer and -1.3°C (30°F) in winter. The average yearly temperature is 9.5°C (49°F).

The official languages are Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian. English and German are the most popular foreign languages.

Time zone
Central European Time (GMT +1).

503,109 (2013 census).

Ethnic groups/Religions
Bosniaks, Serbs, Croats, Jews, Roma and other ethnic groups live in Sarajevo. The most widely practiced religions are Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism and Judaism.

The electric current is 220V with a frequency of 50Hz.

Water supply
It is safe to drink tap water in Sarajevo.

Measurement system
Metric system.

The currency used in BiH is the Convertible Mark. The international abbreviation for the currency is BAM, while KM is used locally (1.95KM = 1 Euro). You can exchange money at any bank, post office or exchange office. In some shopping centers, exchange offices work until 10:00 p.m.

Banks and post offices
Banks normally work from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. The main post office is open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday to Saturday.

Credit cards
It is possible to pay with credit cards in most shopping centers and in nearly all better restaurants. This is not the case, however, in most cafés, clubs and shops that sell handicrafts and souvenirs in the old part of town. Credit cards are also not accepted when paying for the following: parking services, tickets for public transport or special events.

Business hours
Most public places are open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Small shops usually work up until 8:00 p.m. and shopping centers work until 10:00 p.m.

Telephone and internet access
There are three GSM operators in BiH: BH Telecom, M:Tel and Eronet. Pre-paid cards and additional minutes (credit) for cell phones and wireless internet are available for purchase at kiosks, small shops and at these operators’ stores. Wireless connection is free at many hotels, restaurants, cafés and shopping centers. All three operators offer 3G cell phone internet throughout Sarajevo, but roaming rates can be very high.