BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
This craggily beautiful land retains some lingering scars from the heartbreaking civil war in the 1990s. But today visitors will more likely remember Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH) for its deep, unassuming human warmth and for the intriguing East-meets-West atmosphere born of fascinatingly blended Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian histories.
Major drawcards are the reincarnated antique centres of Sarajevo and Mostar, where rebuilt historical buildings counterpoint fashionable bars and wi-fi–equipped cafes. Elsewhere Socialist-era architectural monstrosities are surprisingly rare blots on predominantly rural landscapes. Many Bosnian towns are lovably small, wrapped around medieval castles and surrounded by mountain ridges or cascading river canyons. Few places in Europe offer better rafting or such accessible, inexpensive skiing.
Sarajevo is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with an estimated population of 369,534. Nestled within the greater Sarajevo valley of Bosnia, it is surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and situated along the Miljacka River in the heart of Southeastern Europe and 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, following San Francisco. In 1914, it was the site of the assassination of the Archduke of Austria that sparked World War I. Seventy years later, it hosted the1984 Winter Olympics. For nearly four years, from 1992 to 1996, the city suffered the longest siege of a city in the history of modern warfare (1,425 days long) during the Bosnian War for independence.
Sarajevo was nominated to be the European Capital of Culture in 2014 and will be hosting the European Youth Olympic Festival in 2017.
Mostar is a city and municipality in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina . Inhabited by 113,169 people, it is one of the most important cities in the Herzegovina region, its cultural capital, and the center of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation. Mostar is situated on the Neretva River and is the fifth-largest city in the country. Mostar was named after the bridge keepers who in the medieval times guarded the Stari Most (Old Bridge) over the Neretva. The Old Bridge, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most recognizable landmarks, and is considered one of the most exemplary pieces of Islamic architecture in the Balkans.
This southernmost city in Bosnia and Herzegovina is only 28km from the famous city of Dubrovnik. The Old Town of Trebinje was established in the 18th century and soon developed into a trading & crafts center named Kastel.There is barely a town in Herzegovina that was not erected alongside a freshwater river. Trebinje is no exception: its old town lines the banks of the Trebisnjica River that flows through the heart of the city. The river and the city have always been known for the enormous old mills treading the Trebisnjica Although they are not fully functional today, they remain a symbol of Herzegovina’s not-so-distant past when everything was directly connected to the power of nature.Klobuk is the large fortress in Trebinje. It is assumed to date from the 9th century and is believed that the Slovenian princes of Krajina – Pavlimir and Tesimir were buried here. Since the 12th century it controlled the Nemanjic region until, in 1377, Klobuk became part of the expanded Bosnian state.
The Adriatic Sea from Split to Dubrovnik is gorgeous, very clean, and includes 22km of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The closed bay at Neum is protected from the strong open sea winds by the Peljesac Peninsula,and wonderfully calm.
Neum is the only exit of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the coast. It was first mentioned in 533 (under the name Neunense), but was developed as a maritime retreat in 1965. The Old Town of Neum is 2 km inland.Scuba-diving, parasailing, boating and jet skiing can all readily be arranged in any of the major hotels. It all costs a little less than what it costs in Croatia. During the season, it is wise to book in advance. There are over 7000 beds in hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and private accommodation.