The Sarajevo Jewish Tour, comprising visits to both Sephardim and Ashkenazi synagogues, Haggadah book at the National Museum, Jewish cemetery and Vraca Memorial Park, provides a very comprehensive insight into the Jewish role of the dynamic Sarajevo past.
4 hour experience will help you to better rationalize the true meaning of the most known Sarajevo nickname: “Little Jerusalem” (Ladino: “Chico Yerushalaim”) and to become more familiar about the Jewish role during the vibrant historic events.
Departure Times Twice a day: March – October 9 AM / 2 PM, November – February 9 AM / 1 PM.er to start from elsewhere, please let us know about it in advance.
Pickup Locations If you are staying in the old town of Sarajevo meet us at our office. If you are bit away from us, please let us know and we can organise advance pickup.
Activity Note: The tour is adapted to all ages and is not physically demanding. Due to the distance of the locations, we use vehicles during the tour, but most of the tour is done on foot.
In the old town of Sarajevo (our office or your pickup address), meet your guide and begin your 4-5 hour small-group tour. Your guide is professional who will show you the best of Sarajevo’s jewish heritage and will make sure no questions remain unanswered, even of personal nature, so don’t refrain from sharing your thoughts and opinions at any moment of time.
Since our office is located in the heart of Sarajevo’s Old Town, the tour will start at its main market often known as Baščaršija. To fully understand the Jewish contribution to the development of Sarajevo, understanding the city’s vibrant history stands as the main prerequisite.
We will take a stroll through the narrow, cobbled streets of the Old Town and learn about the importance of this site which served as both business and religious part of Sarajevo.
We will see Sebilj (main public tap), Coppersmith street, Main gourmet street, Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque, Bezistan (roofed public market), Latin bridge and many other locations important for the better understanding of Sarajevo Jewish history.
Sarajevo old town Bascarsija coppersmith street – Kazandziluk
After the pleasant walk we will enter into the first Jewish quarter of Sarajevo. Bosnian Sephardim Jews are tracing their roots from Iberian Peninsula, therefore their specificity is usage of Judeo-Spanish, often known as Ladino language. In Ladino, the quarter was known as El Cortijo (the courtyard).
The central object in this picturesque quarter is the Synagogue called amongst the local Jews as Il Kal vježu (eng. the Old Temple). Synagogue was turned into the Jewish Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1966. Museum thoroughly narrates the chronological story about the Jewish presence in Sarajevo since their arrival until recently. Museum exhibitions will spark your interest and provide both inspiring and devastating impact.
Read more about the Jewish role in the Sarajevo past:
Old Jewish Synagogue in Sarajevo – Bosnia and Herzegovina
City of Sarajevo has had 8 active synagogues up to April 1941. when the city fell under the German, and their Ustaše collaborators, occupation. Soon after, a city Jews suffered greatly and experienced mass expulsions and discriminations. We generally agree today that almost 80% of all Sarajevan victims were Jewish.
Hence, this originally Ashkenazi synagogue was built in 1902. serves today as the only active one. Hear what was the role of the Jewish Community during the siege of Sarajevo. Learn about the level of humanitarian work that the Jewish organization “La Benevolencija” carried out.
Read more about the activities of Jewish Community:
On our way towards the Ashkenazi synagogue we will stroll through the Ferhadija street (the main pedestrian zone), and walk by the former Hotel Grand (one of the most distinguished and crucial Jewish investments at the turn of the 20th century), Eternal flame, Salom’s Palace (first residential renting property in Sarajevo), Jewish Palace at Ćemaluša street, Bosnian Cultural Center (former Jewish Temple built in 1930).
Interior of the Jewish Ashkenazi Synagogue
For the second part of the tour we will need a ride, that will pick us up and take to the next main stops. A charming building of the National Museum, built in 1888. to preserve and maintain the historical richness of Bosnia and Herzegovina, proudly shows its most precious artifact.
A story of Sarajevo Haggadah, the illuminated manuscript that contains the illustrated traditional text of the Passover Haggadah, sparks the interest of most of the city visitors. Vibrant history of the book shares the fate of the Jews and of the entire Bosnia as well. The Sarajevo Haggadah is one of the oldest surviving reminders of Bosnia’s multiethnic history, in a country that has not yet healed from the wounds of the 1990s war.
Learn more about the Sarajevo Haggadah:
The tour is very much enriched with great panorama views, especially from the very top of Trebević mountain. There you will get the real feeling what the great mice and cats game had been played, and how the Republic of Srpska forces (VRS) with such a great advantage never got the real chance to take over Sarajevo city.
Sarajevo Haggadah is located in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina
History narrates this cemetery was founded in the mid 17th century and contains about 3,800 graves. Perched on a hill that overlooks the Bosnian parliament, it was used for its original purpose until 1966. when it was closed. Size of 3,5 hectares witnesses the Jewish presence in Sarajevo for about 460 years. Until the outbreak of WWII, every fifth citizen of Sarajevo was Jewish, therefore making this city a center of the Jewish culture in the Yugoslavia (both Kingdom and Socialist Federal one)
During the Interwar period, the entire cemetery was surrounded by a massive stone wall and five iron hammered gates were added on that occasion.
While most of the graves here are Sephardim, the cemetery also became a burial ground for Ashkenazi Jews, who arrived in Sarajevo in the late 19th century. During the Bosnian war 1992 – 1995 a cemetery location became a notorious sniper nest and one of Bosnia’s bloodiest frontlines between Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) and Army of the Republic of Srpska (VRS).
Once here, visitors can understand the diversity of Sarajevo’s past and interreligious relations between Sarajevans themselves.
Read more about the old Jewish cemetery:
Jewish Cemetery Sarajevo
Last official stop will be the (in)famous Memorial site located at the slopes of the Vraca hill. This memorial is attached to the Austro-Hungarian fortress originally built to guard the south entrance to the city (therefore the name “VraTca”, meaning the “small door” in Bosnian).
During the Nazi and Ustaše occupation, the Vraca Fortress got used as the execution site for the unfortunate Sarajevans. There are 9091 names engraved on the Memorial wall, where 80% are Jewish.
During the last war the Memorial Park was damaged, since it lied at the very frontline, but it went through the relative restoration works recently in 2019/20. and the process of complete renovation is closer than ever before.
Read more about the Vraca Memorial Park:
Sarajevo Vraca Park Memorial
What you will learn during the Sarajevo Jewish Tour?
What Do I Need to Bring?
1. Does this tour itinerary includes visit to Sarajevo National Museum?
Yes, our Sarajevo Jewish tour does include a visit to Sarajevo National and Jewish Muesum.
2. How can I pay this tour?
You can pay this tour either in cash (EUR, BAM, USD, GBP) or by credit card (VISA and MasterCard).