The Eclectic Windows of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Sarajevo Windows

To wander Sarajevo’s streets is to journey through the centuries while diving into a grab bag of architectural styles. In the city’s Baščaršija district, which feels like Istanbul in miniature, artisans craft Turkish-style copper coffee pots under towering minarets and mosques dating back to the 16th century. Along the Miljacka River, the city’s Vijećnica building — originally the city’s National Library, which was destroyed during the Siege of Sarajevo in 1992, and is now the newly-restored City Hall — flashes intricate Moorish-style details in shrimp-pink and cream-colored hues.

Further afield, frilly buildings dating back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire eventually give way to Socialist-style high-rises still violently pockmarked from bombs, bullets, and shrapnel from the Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s.

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

29 thoughts on “The Eclectic Windows of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

    1. Hi Regina & Mike, thank you – glad you liked the collage! Sarajevo certainly has a treasure trove of different types of architecture, reminding visitors of its complex and fascinating history. With so many worthwhile candidates, I had a challenging time deciding which windows to include in the collage. Have you been to Bosnia-Herzegovina?

  1. Hello Tricia, how are you? These windows are wonderful, they show us all the culture and the conflicts Bosnia-Erzegovina passed trought.
    Buildings are the most important historic testimonies.Have a great day!Cris

    1. Ciao, Cris! Really nice to hear from you. What have you been up to this summer?

      Buildings are a fascinating bridge from the past, and in a diverse part of the world such as the Balkans, it’s fun way to understand all the different peoples that have left a mark on the countries’ histories.

    1. Madhu, Sarjaevo’s architecture is so diverse – reflecting its complex and fascinating history. It was a joy rounding up all these windows. :)

      This was my second trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina. I was last there in 2007, and it was quite interesting being in Sarajevo last week for the 100th anniversary of the events that led to the start of WWI. Are you planning a trip to the Balkans sometime soon? We were also impressed with the country’s natural beauty – such rugged mountains and beautiful forests.

    1. Mark, when were you last in BiH? During my short visit in 2007, I didn’t get a chance to explore Sarajevo’s lesser-visited neighborhoods as we did this past week. I was quite surprised to see that a great number of the apartment blocks still had pockmarks from the war, some even with broken glass on the balconies. It’s hard to believe that twenty + years have passed. With the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI, there is the hope that peace will prevail.

      1. I haven’t been back since the war, once both my sons are at uni we will tour again.

  2. They are not mere windows. They are openings to an adventure. A journey to a place we can only dream about. They are the eyes of a building. Each windows a look into the soul.

    1. Greetings, Virginia! You have such a lovely way with words.

      How has your summer been going? I regret that I haven’t been able to stop by Belocchio lately, but now that we’re more settled into the Bulgarian countryside, I’m looking forward to doing so. I wish you the start of a wonderful weekend, filled with much creative inspiration.

    1. They are a portal to fascinating tales and different ways of life, Cornelia. I had an encounter with visitors in Oberammergau a few weeks ago that reminded me that foreigners are curious about our lifestyles too. A group of Asian visitors had wandered off Oberammergau’s main streets, and ended up in front of my parents’ home. They seemed to really enjoy the Lüftlmalerei, as they were snapping away with their iPads and cameras. It was funny experiencing such role reversal. :)

      1. Yes, that is really interesting of a role reversal, Tricia. As usual you are in the shoes of photographing and documenting. Have a lovely summer, where ever you are right now. Cornelia from the heat of California!

      2. Thank you for the wonderful summer wishes, Cornelia. We’re actually enjoying a bit of hot, sunny weather ourselves – but in rural Bulgaria. We’re hoping to get back to O-gau in September. Enjoy the upcoming weekend!

  3. You’ve picked out plenty of fantastic parts of the city, and it’s the architecture in Sarajevo that stays in my memory as the reason I loved it so much when we were there. A city so diverse in everything, windows included :)

    1. Dale, ironic perhaps that the rich diversity that makes the city so appealing also set the stage for the tragic events that unfolded there in the 1990s. When I was in Sarajevo in 1997, I was naive to not realize how divided the city still is. We realized that during our visit last month (different bus stations, hospitals, etc.) Even our taxi driver had to take off the taxi light on top of his car so that he could drive us into a bus station on the other side of town, where he presumably is not allowed to pick up customers.

  4. What a beautiful collection Tricia. And you’re certainly right about the plethora of styles. I remember the newly-restored City Hall and all the bullet-riddled buildings. Is the fourth photo of the handsome mosque that’s close to City Hall? ~Terri

    1. Hi Terri, weren’t you and James in Sarajevo last year? I didn’t know the City Hall was completed then as I thought it was just unveiled a few months ago. It seems it was more of a restoration undertaking than I had guessed!

      The dusty-rose and cantaloupe-colored window is from the City Hall. I’m not sure if they broadcast the WWI 100th commemoration concert live to the States last month, but that’s also where the Vienna Philharmonic concert was held:

      It was fascinating being in Sarajevo on 28 June, people watching, talking with residents, as well as protestors, with the attempt of trying to better understand all sides of the story. I hope I’ll get a chance to do a post soon.

      Finally, thank you for your kind words, but it only seems fitting to pass along credit to the talented architects and craftsmen. :) It’s always so nice hearing from you and James.

    1. Dorothy, in an age of much cookie cutter architecture, I think that’s why these windows are so appealing. It makes one appreciate artisans keeping Old World techniques alive today, doesn’t it? :)

  5. Hi Tricia! I love the way you see beauty in the everyday. Each window offers a glimpse into the life of its owner and makes me wonder what he/she would be like. I’ve always been fascinated by backyard art, window decorations, and quirky signboards! :)

    1. Cheryl, something I appreciate about travel is that it does provide the chance to soak up the details of a new place, perhaps making me more observant when I’m back home in my own familiar surroundings. Have you two been to Sarajevo? The blend of cultures there is fascinating, and that’s why I couldn’t resist including a bit of its architecture in my collage series. Thank you for your comment, and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

      1. Tricia, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve become more aware/appreciative of my surroundings, back home, after travelling to different places across the globe. I haven’t been to Sarajevo. I do hope, I can make that trip someday. Your snaps are truly reflective of the ‘blend of cultures’ in the city. But what stood out is that you managed to highlight another facet of the city. Sometimes, all we know of cities/countries is their (infamous)history or what is beamed across travel portals. It’s hard to see the human element. I think that’s why you’re snaps worked for me. :)

      2. Belated greetings to you Cheryl, and thanks for your thoughtful follow-up comment. As my most recent post shows, we’ve had our hands full with a four-legged little one (a Ukrainian kitten) that we rescued nearly 3 weeks ago. As a result, I haven’t been able to keep up very well in the blogosphere! :)

        Indeed, Sarajevo is known for its tragic history, but I also wanted to showcase its beautiful, varied architecture. And your mention of travel making you “more aware/appreciative of (your) surroundings back home” resonated with me as well. We’ve been away from Germany for 4 months, but now that we’re again here visiting for a few weeks, I’m more keenly aware of what makes the Bavarian countryside unique.

        I do hope you’ll get the chance to explore Sarajevo and beyond someday soon. Thought we’ve been fortunate to have spent a few months in the Balkans, I feel as thought we’ve only hit the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ :)

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