Holidays in Sarajevo: A Time For Family and Traditions

Sarajevo's cathedral can be seen peeking above the roof of the Bosniak Institute. Sarajevo has a long history of religious tolerance.

I was able to spend some extra time with my family during the holidays over the last two weeks.  My older daughter visited from her university studies in the U.S., and my wife’s family visited from Warsaw.  It was wonderful having so many members of my family together here in Sarajevo – a place where family ties and traditions run so deep.  We took advantage of this time to tour the city and visit some of Sarajevo’s wonderful museums. 
The Sarajevo Museum organization was a wonderful resource for us to learn more about the city’s unique traditions, particularly its rich multi-cultural heritage.  Few places in Europe – or the world, for that matter – offer so many different cultural gems in one place.  We especially enjoyed the Svrzo House and the Despic House, which have preserved for visitors excellent examples of typical late 19th century life for Muslim and Orthodox families, respectively.  While the styles and furnishings were similar, there were differences that distinguished them.  It was easy to see that families of both traditions put a high value on receiving and entertaining friends and colleagues with warmth and hospitality.  The visits strengthened my impressions that this is a place literally built around the values of friendship and family.  The exhibits at the National Museum’s Ethnology building were similarly educational and interesting.
Svrzo's House is an example of Sarajevo's traditional Ottoman architecture.

Finally, we also visited the Airport Tunnel Museum and the exhibit of life under siege in Sarajevo during the 1992-95 war at the Historical Museum of BiH.  These were very moving exhibits of the valiant efforts of people to keep Sarajevo a functioning city despite the many terrible hardships and tragic loss of life.  I appreciated the perspectives on the war, but even more important for us was seeing reminders of the city’s enduring (and centuries-old) heritage of embracing family, friends and visitors.