Exploring Baščaršija, unique market where Slavic and Ottoman culture merge into one

Very unique place in Europe and it’s just a few hours drive from Croatia

chriswanders (CC0), Pixabay

Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina – If you ever decide to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, their capital city will surely be on your list. There is this one place, Baščaršija, where each of the locals will probably advise you to visit. Rightly so, because this is the main tourist attraction in Bosnian capital, it’s in the heart of the city and this unique Slavic – Ottoman Bazaar is one of the oldest Sarajevo’s cultural treasures.

It’s just the original oriental Slavic architecture that stands there like it’s frozen in time. The moment when Ottomans conquered these areas this place became the most intriguing location in Europe, because you will see there both authentic mixture of Slavic culture and Ottoman imposed Islam on the local Slavic population during times of war.

Most of Bosnian historical towns and cities have had a same historical pattern, where people with influence have converted to Islam, while countryside and villages mostly remained Christian Orthodox or Catholic. This is why Bosnia today is culturally very colorful nation that if we neglect it’s bad mutual relations between local Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks, is a really pretty land with plenty of interesting things to see and learn about.

In historical pattern Sarajevo is actually a new city, as it was founded only after the Ottomans conquest over Bosnia. This is why Baščarišija legacy starts in 1462, after Ottoman governor of Bosnia, local Bosniak by the name Isa-beg Ishakovič (previously Orthodox Christian hailing for either Macedonian or Serbian orthodox family) opened the first oriental roadside station on that location.

This roadside station was built on Baščarišija, where local merchants and travelers would stop to find lodging, food for their horses, making repairs on carts, and with time it turned into a real Bazaar. The name Baščaršija derived from two Turkish words, “baş” word for “head” and “çarşı,” for market street. It’s most famous period started in 17th century when gradually almost thousand shops were having business on this Bazaar.

While it’s biggest downfall was in 19th century after a horrendous fire after which it’s size was shrinked in half, also Austro-Hungary authorities didn’t care too much about this piece of history because they wanted a modern European city.

Either way if you want a unique blend of Slavic, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian culture, Sarajevo and it’s Baščaršija is the way to go! 

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