Friday, October 26, 2018

Baščaršija, Sarajevo: Morica Han, Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque and Bazaar

The Old Town of Sarajevo or Baščaršija as it is called was built in the 15th century by Isa-Beg Isakovic, an Ottoman general of Bosnian origin.

The Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque in Baščaršija, Sarajevo.

Baščaršija is a Turkish word which means “main bazaar or market”. The area was largely influenced by the Turks/Ottoman Empire who controlled this part of Eastern Europe for 400 years.

Baščaršija has many notable buildings from the Ottoman period and although it is not as big as it used to be before, the old town is nicely preserved. It’s not a large place but there are lots to see and I am very much digging the lively, open-air and exotic atmosphere.

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The old town is pedestrianised.

My friend Bubbles and I spent 4 days in Sarajevo last year. We were on our Balkan road trip of 2 weeks through Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro. We had 2 full days in Sarajevo and the other 2 days were spent half-half.

We are both to admit that we found Sarajevo different from any European city we have visited. Eastern European capitals and cities are different anyway from Western Europe, but Sarajevo is unique on its own and quite special due to the Ottoman influence which reflects on the arts, religion, and culture. The city is a melting pot of cultures and races and you can see it clearly when you walk down the streets.

Tea Cafes, Hookah, Kaffe

The cafes here remind me of Istanbul.

Cafes offering hookah, Turkish tea and coffee, and other popular drinks.

Love the outdoor cafe scene in the old town of Sarajevo.

In Baščaršija I actually felt like I was in Istanbul, Turkey. The Ottoman influence is very strong and in fact, I saw a number of Turkey flags flown as it was the period Erdogan won the presidential (re)election in Turkey when we visited.

The ambiance in Baščaršija is very Islamic with a whiff of European.

There are so many tea cafes everywhere similar to the tea cafes in Fatih and Besiktas. The Anatolian t theme and the prints on the sofas and chairs dominate the design. There’s hookah (water pipe) or hubbly bubbly as how it is called in Jordan. Turkish coffee is served in many cafes in bronze teapots which is similar to Greek and Arabic coffee. It looks like I am in Asia Minor or the Middle East!

Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque

The Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque.

We didn’t get to go inside the iconic mosque, the Gazi Husrev-beg as it wasn’t open, but we managed to stroll around the courtyard which was open to the public and admire its beauty from the outside. There was a beautiful open kiosk and a lot of families were walking around.

The nice thing about visiting the mosque’s courtyard is that it will give you some peace and quiet. The mosque has an open courtyard and considering it is located in the middle of the very busy and packed old town where shops and cafes are side by side and the streets are narrow and pedestrianised, this place does help you escape that even for a short while.

The Mosque's courtyard is quite spacious.

Beautiful kiosk with a fountain in the courtyard.

Ottoman-Style Cafe

After checking out the mosque, we stumbled on this little cafe just across the street.

The cafe was so charming, we could not help but go inside and sit down. However,  I can't remember anymore why we didn't stay. We didn't order and we left quickly, but I managed to take a few pictures. I think we were not feeling the full vibes even though the place was cute.

Isn't this cafe cute?

Gazi Husrev-bey Bezistan (Indoor Bazaar)

We then hit the nearby bazaar named after the mosque. But before doing that, we nibbled on some creamy ice cream. We both ordered pistachio flavour and a lemon for moi. I find the mix of pistachio and lemon really perfect together, just delicious.

Yay, ice cream is always a good idea. Strangely, I only (like to) eat ice cream (preferably a gelato and in a cone) when I am outside or travelling.

The indoor bazaar was not that big as expected. I have visited massive bazaars in Dubai and Istanbul so I was expecting something similar. The bazaar here is more like an indoor market for tourists. Nothing special really. We were able to go through it quickly.

Bubbles and I didn't just leave without buying a couple of little (girly) stuff. I bought a few vintage-style rings and a pair of loop earrings. The prices here are not that cheap but if your wallet is used to Euros then it is for sure cheaper than home. So, still good buys!

The Gazi Husrev-bey Bezistan (Bazaar) has many entrances.

As you can see, there are a lot of knock-offs sold here.

The rings we bought. Mine is the vintage medieval-style on the left. Love this ring!

The streets around the indoor bazaar. The area is on the edge of Baščaršija and the newer part of the Sarajevo city center.

Interestingly, I didn't buy any scarf on this trip. I wanted to in Mostar, as I saw these lovely silken and colourful oversized scarves there but totally forgot to buy on our last day.

Lunch at Dveri

Ah, the most awaited event of the day, haha.

Lunch was spent at this lovely and very cosy garden setting restaurant called Dveri. I made a separate entry about this here: Lovely Lunch at Dveri.

I really loved this place. Bubbles swore this was one of the best meals she’s had in this trip.

Tea and Coffee at the Morica Han

Then we went for tea at the oldest inn in the world!

The courtyard of Morica Han.

The Morica Han was a caravanserai in the 16th to 19th centuries where travellers in those days travel in caravans and horses, they make use of these roadside inns to rest and recover from their journey. The Morica Han is believed to accommodate up to 300 passengers and 70 horses. Today it is a café restaurant with a Persian carpet shop and a home base to a few religious groups and notary public offices.

I love the garden courtyard ambiance of the Morica Han. It is very peaceful and relaxing and a perfect spot to catch up, have a chat and unwind a bit, away from the busyness, although it can get busy here with guests, it's not the same though as when you step out on the street.

So highly recommend having a tea or coffee break here while browsing the beautiful and colourful Persian rugs in the adjacent shop after and enjoying the historical significance of the building.

Looks like the area is home to a number of lawyers / notary public offices.

Bubbles had normal coffee and our view is the Persian rug shop, Isfahan.

While I am having some local Turkish (Ottoman)-style coffee.

We did sit inside the cafe but didn't like that people were smoking, so we moved to the courtyard when a table in a nice location was available.

More of Baščaršija

Other places to check out in Baščaršija (which we did!) are:

- Sebijl (Ottoman wooden fountain)
- Kazandziluk (Coppersmith and metalworking street and bazaar)
- Vijecnica (Sarajevo City hall)

Travel Period: May 2017
Destination: Sarajevo, Bosnia & Hercegovina

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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