With plenty of things to see in the city of Sarajevo itself, I decide to walk away from the city centre on a sunny morning. Soon after leaving Pigeon Square, I walk up a street leading directly to the Kovači Martyrs Cemetery, a sea of white crosses: people who died during the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s. Also former president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegović, is buried here, even though he died after the war had ended. Right next to the cemetery are the remains of the defensive wall that once protected Vratnik, with two towers on both sides: the Ploče and Širokac Kula. The former can actually be entered, and is a small museum for Alija Izetbegović; the museum extends into the wall, and leads straight to the other tower.
Before visiting the museum, however, I walked to the Širokac tower, and entered the Vratnik neighbourhood. The street climbs from here: Vratnik is built against the hills surrounding Sarajevo. After a while, I reach a mosque, and Vratnik square, the central area of this former citadel. People sitting under trees, at bars, going for shopping: the feel is mostly that of a village. There is no hint that I am in a neighbourhood of the capital of Bosnia. A little higher up, I take one of the streets further up the hill: the street is actually a staircase. On the way, I pass a small wooden mosque with a tiny minaret. At the top of the street, I take a right, and get in touch with a few sweet kids who are playing a Bosnian version of Monopoly.
From here, I reach an old wall in ruins, marking the eastern side of the Vratnik citadel. A little further down, I pass the Višegradska gate. Right ahead, I see the ruins of an old fortress: the White Fortress, built in the Middle Ages on top of a natural vantage point: the eastern side are steep cliffs. It is still the eastern entrance of Sarajevo. Inside the fortress are mostly ruins, but when I turn around, the views of Sarajevo are the reward of all the walking uphill I have done so far. I walk down the main street of Vratnik which eventually takes me back to Vratnik Square; from here, I walk directly to the Yellow Bastion, yet another reminder of the old citadel of Vratnik. Here, too, the views of Sarajevo are great, and the cemetery I have seen in the morning is right at my feet.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Vratnik quarter (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Vratnik quarter.
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