If you are interested in finding out more about the rich culture and heritage of the Jewish community in Sarajevo, you should join our Sarajevo Jewish Tour.
The first Jews arrived in Bosnia in the middle of the 15th century from Spain and Portugal.
As tens of thousands of Jews fled the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, Sultan Bayezid II of the Ottoman Empire welcomed the Jews who were able to reach his territories. Straightaway, Sephardi Jews fleeing Spain and Portugal were welcomed in the Ottoman domains.
They found their way to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Thrace and other areas of Europe under Ottoman control. As a consequence, Sarajevo became an important centre for the Jews of the Balkans.
Let us guide you through the streets of Sarajevo and show you the most important Jewish monuments in our city.
Overall, Jews in the Ottoman Empire were generally well-treated and were recognized as “the people of the book”. Despite some restrictions, the Jewish communities in the Empire prospered. The Ottomans granted them significant autonomy, with various rights including the right to buy real estate. Jews also built synagogues and conducted trade throughout the Ottoman Empire. Ultimately, the Ottoman State granted full equality to Jews, along with the other non-Muslim subjects of the Empire by 1856.
Definitely, we talk about the rich Jewish history on several Sarajevo tours, but this specific one is focused entirely on the long-lasting traditions and customs of Jews in Sarajevo.
Sarajevo’s Jewish tour starts with a visit to the Old Jewish Temple. Today it is The Jewish Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina that focuses on five centuries of the Jewish community in Sarajevo. There we will talk about the trade network in Sarajevo and the development that happened in Sarajevo due to Jewish merchants. Listen to the traditional Bosnian music known as sevdalinka and find its connection to Sefardic religious songs.
Also, Sarajevo Jewish Tour covers the Ashkenazi Synagogue. It is the only active Synagogue nowadays in Sarajevo.
Later on, we will see the buildings that used to be the synagogues including today’s Bosnian Cultural Center Building – a former Moorish-style beautiful Grand Jewish Temple.
We will also see where the first Jewish school in Sarajevo, Jewish Villa AMA, and Salom Family Palace buildings are.
You should definitely not miss the amazing story of the 700 years old Sarajevo Haggadah and the Muslim librarian who saved it from the Nazis. Sarajevo Haggadah is a compilation of different stories written by the Jews in Barcelona in the 14th century and that, by destiny, was brought to Sarajevo by a Jewish family in the 16th century. The book survived three wars and it is still the most important item of the National Museum and the most important item of Jewish heritage in Bosnia.
At the end of the tour, we will visit Sarajevo Jewish Cemetery – the second largest Jewish cemetery in Europe. Now it is a mixed cemetery where you will find both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews’ graves. We will talk about the important people buried there and of course, the tragedy of the Jewish population in WW2.
The Jewish Cemetery during the war in Bosnia in the ’90s, as a very important strategic place, was destroyed and this is one of the topics of interest in this tour. Jews of Sarajevo, even though most of them left the city when the war started, never forgot what Sarajevo has done for them. They founded several foundations and trusts that directly helped the besieged city during the war.
The Sarajevo Jewish Tour was well worth the money and time. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, and was welcoming to any questions that arose. As a bonus, we were provided with fantastic food and drink recommendations. We highly recommend.
This is a must-do tour. Sarajevo’s rich Jewish story is hiding in plain sight; you need a guide to help you see and interpret it. Our guide, Ahmed, was brilliant — knowledgeable, communicative, and the company was great about getting us connected.
This was a memorable, remarkable tour – the highlight of my visit to Sarajevo. Being a guide myself, I would say this tour has everything a special tour must have: compelling stories, context, academic balance, depth, meaningful sites and a great guide, Ahmed, who is an excellent story-teller, a serious academic reseracher, and who could address all my questions and help me with pratical needs in the city. I hope more travellers could take this tour and enlarge their imagination on the “Jerusalem of Europe” and on the importance of the Jewish chapter in the rich, meaningful, challenging Sarajevo’s broader history. Highly recommended!
Thanks for Lejla to explain every single detail like a history professor with a charming smile.
. It was a walking tour but it was not tiring because there were so many things to see. Amila was knowledgeable and we enjoyed the tour very much. We had our 3 year old with us and Amila was patient and did not rush through the tour.