Sarajevo

Sarajevo

Sarajevo

Sarajevo (pronounced [sǎraje̞ʋo̞]) is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with an estimated population of over 310,605 people within its administrative limits. It is also the capital of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity, as well as the center of the Sarajevo Canton, which has a population of 436,572.

Sarajevo is located in the Sarajevo valley of Bosnia, surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and situated along the Miljacka River in the heart of Southeastern Europe and the Balkans.


Sarajevo is the leading business and cultural centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and its influences in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts contribute to its status as Bosnia and Herzegovina's major economic centre.


The city is historically famous for its traditional religious diversity, with adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism coexisting there for centuries. Due to this long and rich history of religious diversity, Sarajevo is often called the "Jerusalem of Europe or "Jerusalem of the Balkans".


Although settlement in the area stretches back to prehistoric times, the modern city arose as an Ottoman stronghold in the 15th century. Sarajevo has attracted international attention several times throughout its history. In 1885 Sarajevo was the first city in Europe and the second city in the world to have a full-time electric tram network running through the city, the first being San Francisco, California.

In 1914 it was the site of the assassination of the Archduke of Austria that sparked World War I. Seventy years later, it hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics. For nearly four years, from 1992–1996, the city suffered from a siege during the Bosnian War for independence.


Today the city is undergoing post-war reconstruction, and is the fastest growing city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The travel guide series, Lonely Planet, has named Sarajevo as the 43rd best city in the world, and in December 2009 listed Sarajevo as one of the top ten cities to visit in 2010.
In 2011 Sarajevo was the first city outside the European Union to be nominated for the European Capital of Culture in 2014.

Ottoman era

Sarajevo was founded by the Ottoman Empire in the 1450s upon its conquest of the region, with 1461 used as the city's founding date. The first Ottoman governor of Bosnia, Isa-Beg Ishaković, transformed the cluster of villages into a city and state capitol by building a number of key structures, including a mosque, a closed marketplace, a public bath, a hostel, and of course the governor's castle ("Saray") which gave the city its present name.

The mosque was named "Careva Džamija" (the Tsar's Mosque) in honor of the Sultan Mehmed II. With the improvements Sarajevo quickly grew into the largest city in the region. Many Christians converted to Islam at this time. The settlement was established as a city, named Bosna-Saraj, around the citadel in 1461. The name Sarajevo is derived from Turkish saray ovası, meaning the field around saray.


Under leader such as the second governor Gazi Husrev-beg, Sarajevo grew at a rapid rate. (Husrev-beg greatly shaped the physical city, as most of what is now the Old Town was built during his reign.) Sarajevo became known for its large marketplace and numerous mosques, which by the middle of the 16th century numbered more than 100. At the peak of the empire, Sarajevo was the biggest and most important Ottoman city in the Balkans after Istanbul.

By 1660, the population of Sarajevo was estimated to be over 80,000. By contrast, Belgrade in 1838 had 12,963 inhabitants, and Zagreb as late as 1851 had 14,000 people. As political conditions changed, Sarajevo was the site of warfare.