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Bosnia Herzegovina and the Pearl of the Balkans: Sarajevo
Bosnia Herzegovina and the Pearl of the Balkans: Sarajevo

One of the most beautiful cities located in the Balkans is Sarajevo. Built between two mountains, the city has conquered the hearts of the thousands of visitors today as it has done so for centuries with its unique nature, rich history and cultural heritage.

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Bosnia Herzegovina is the country in the Balkan region, and Sarajevo is the capital of the country that synthesizes the East and the West. With its unique colours, It is one of those authentic Ottoman cities that is located in the middle of Europe. Single-storey shops, with pigeons surrounding the water fountain and the Bascarsija, - the main market - is the heart of Sarajevo.

The city is also a center of attraction with its traditional cuisine. The Bosniak borek, a pastry dish, is the most popular dish of Bosnia. Another indispensable is Turkish coffee. It is possible to taste the different varieties of tradition Bosnian dishes in the Grand Bazaar all these traditional Bosnian flavours in Bascarsija. The streets of Bascarsija bears traces of Antep's copper bazaar, Sivas silver coins, Ankara's inns, and Istanbul's passages.

The Ottoman State has left countless architectural works in the country during its 415-year rule in Bosnia. Despite the passing of time, the Ottoman fabric is still alive, especially in Bascarsija, the cornerstone of the city. Today, the handicrafts learned in the Ottoman period from the streets of Başçarsija are being revived.

One of the architectural works left by the Ottoman Empire is the Gazi Hüsrev Bey Complex. Gazi Husrev Bey, who served as a governor in the 16th century, was responsible for the present-day appearance of  Sarajevo to a great extent. This is mainly because he built the city as a Turkish city with the constructions such as a traditional kulliye (an Islamic-Ottoman social complex), hamam, madrasah (theological school). Another work of the Ottoman heritage from the 16th century is Moriçe Han. The building, which survived a great fire in 1697, is also the only inn in Sarajevo that has in existence today.

The Sacred Heart Cathedral is a Christian church in Sarajevo, is the largest cathedral in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is also considered to be a symbol of tolerance in the country. Like every city that crosses the river, dozens of bridges in Sarajevo have witnessed many important events throughout history. The shooting of the Austrian Hungarian Emperor Franz Ferdinand, who started World War I, by a Serbian nationalist took place at the Latin Bridge. Today at that point there is the Gavrilo Prinsip Museum.

Sarajevo is the homeland of sevdalinkaların (those who have loved) sad love songs. Sevdalinka, which means love songs, contains love and longing. Sevdalinkalar, dating back to the 16th century, is still interpreting the emotions and feelings of the Bosnian people. The Sevda Sanatevi in Başçarşıja also serves as a museum where the masterpieces and master of Bosnian oral literature survive.

Mostar, the symbol of Bosnia

There are some bridges, which have different meanings beyond being a physical bond between the two river banks that  they join. The Bridge of Mostar was buried in waters on 9 November 1993 with the fire of Croatian artillery. The collapse of the bridge was perhaps the most mind-blowing image that of the Bosnian War, etched in the memory of history where hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives. This was a fateful day whereby the giant stones were buried in the waters of the Neretva River, recorded as a painful memory of human history. The bridge was abandoned to its fate until 2003. A Turkish construction firm struggled to rebuild its original stone bridges. The stone quarry built by Ottoman architect Hayrettin was reopened, with the stones being produced here. Thus, the Mostar Bridge, the symbol of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was rebuilt in all its glory.

Mostar, the highest stone bridge in the Balkans, is one of the most visited tourist destinations today. Tourists who visit the bridge do not just look at the bridge. Those who have the courage jump from the bridge of 27 meters high bridge into the Neretva River. The two legs of the Bridge of Mostar today have museums. On both ends, there are shops selling souvenirs.

Mostar, which was added  to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2005, continues to live the Ottoman tradition today with the Yunus Emre Institutes. The Yunus Emre Institute, which first opened its doors in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2009, recently added a new Mostar to its address. An exhibition titled Traditional Turkish Houses was opened in the Mostar Yunus Emre Institute, which was established in the former Karagöz Bey Madrasa building. Cemal Akyıldız, the artist who made a charcoal engraving and exhibited the traditional architectural structure of Anatolia and the Institute continued to host the works of both Bosnian and Turkish artists in May this year.

An Islamic Monastery on the mountain, on the banks of the river

Centuries ago, the Islamic monasteries, built by dervishes in locations where neither birds or caravans pass in order not to hear anything other than their own thoughts still maintain their value today. Blagay Monastery, 15 kilometers from Mostar, has been the spiritual refuge of Balkan geography for centuries. With its traditional traditions, the monastery keeps its doors open to hundreds of visitors as a symbol of Islamic architecture, culture and spirit.

Blagay Monastery, also known as Alperenler Monastery, also has the quarters of Sarı Saltuk from Anatolia. The monastery is known today as Sarı Saltuk with its name commemorated both  in the village and in different parts of the world. Sarı Saltuk   was responsible for the short and quick conquest of the Rumeli region and has a great role in the spread of Islam here. The information on the life of Sale Saltuk is mainly based on legends. In Saltukname, written by Cem Sultan, it says that Saltuk is the student of Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli and was sent to the Rumeli territory as an official.

The Alperenler Monastery, built on the skirts of the mountains of which it takes its name,   also serves as a museum today. In one part of the Alperenler Monastery, which has a three-storey wooden structure, the dervishes carry on their lives while the other part has a “hazire” which is a fenced burial area, usually located in sufi lodges reserved for special people.Thus, the feeling of being close to each other as the door between the earth and the afterlife serves as a constant reminder. At the entrance of the Sari Saltuk Monastery , the visitor  is welcomed with the Quranic verse "We have created everything alive from the water". The Sari Saltuk Monastery, which is set up beside a harbor, is located at the point where the Neretva River feedcsing the region is located and it enables the region to find life with Islam. While the river that adds beauty to the beauty of Blagay is a remedy for the material thirst of the region, Yellow Saltuk and its dervishes also remove the spiritual thirst of the region.

A Turkish village: Pocitelj

Pocitelj is an Ottoman village overlooking the emerald green Neretva River. It is a village where the stones are in a harmonial challege with  the with the nature,  flowing along with the sky and and the river A Turkish village: Pocitelj

Pocitelj is an Ottoman village overlooking the emerald green Neretva River. It is an end village where the stones challenge nature in harmony with nature, sky, river, flowing way. Pocitelj means "beginning" and is the first village where the Turks settled on Bosnian soil. Tourists coming to Mostar make sure to visit Pocietej which is about half an hour from Mostar.

Pocitelj Village was founded in 1383 by King Stephan. The Ottoman domination began after this era During the Ottoman period the village was a  border town of Dubrovnik and was of strategic importance. Stone was used in the majority of reconstruction Works, the face of the village changed. The conquest of the Ottoman's Poçitel of Hersek Sancakbeyi Hamza Bey Obrenovic. With the castle built here, the clock tower, the madrasa and cultivation, Pocitelj became a management center. Hacı Ali Mosque, which welcomes hundreds of tourists every day, suffered great damage during the bloody battle, but now stands upright and the sound of five minarets of minarets is never absent.

The small but solid castle that surrounds  Pocitelj has the most beautiful view of the village. The 16-meter-high clock tower retained its function here for 300 years, until 1917. Although the Pasha Tower does not reflect the glorious times, it still continues to keep a watchful eye on its surroundings.

Vrele Bosne

Vrele Bosne is the address where centuries-old trees are home to vast landscapes and can survive both inside and outside of the city. In other words, Swar Park.  Lie a paradise, it is only 20 km away from Sarajevo's city center . Vrele Bosne is a park not only for tourists but also for the local Bosnian people to get away from city life and hav a sigh of relief from the hectic city. The park is located at the source of the Bosnian river, which gave its name to Bosnia. It is also possible to witness the clarity of the country's fertile waters in this park.

Traces of war in Bosnia

When the calendar date displayed April 5, 1992, the National Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its departure from the Federation of Yugoslavia, following the results of the referendum. The Bosnian Serbs, who opposed the decision to split up, took up arms with the support of Belgrade and the very next day initiated a brutal bloody battle that would for 3.5 years. The war that began in Bosnia and Herzegovina on April 6, 1992 was the bloodiest war Europe has seen since the Second World War. Three and a half years of human tragedy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives. Nearly 2 million people have migrated to other countries.

Famous Town of Bulgarian Rugs: Chiprovski

Chiprovski is a town in Bulgaria that is famous for its rugs. The town, named for its rich mineral resources, is built on the skirts of Mount Balkan. The town with the traces of different civilizations has a population of 2,000 people.

Chiprovski is a small town in the city of Montana in Bulgaria. The town lies on the border with Serbia and  is located at the foot of the large Balkan Mountains. The name of the town Chiprovski has been used since 1956  and was named so after the word Kiprovets given by the Romans  because of the mineral resources during that period.

Orthodox and Catholic churches were built during the 13th and 14th centuries on the Kiprovets hill in the town. Chiprovski, who entered the Ottoman dominion in  1396, protected the Bulgarian identity for 500 years. During this period the town moved into mining eventually turning into an economic and cultural center of north-western Bulgaria. In the 16th century the church was renovated and became a Catholic center. In 1624, Chiprovtsi opened its doors to the first secular school of the country. In 1667, historian Petar Bogdan authored his book "Bulgarian History" here.

Today the reputation of this small mountain town has surpassed the  borders of Bulgaria. It gained further recognition after its rugs were listed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. This event was registered as a formal industry with the  " Chiprovski Kilim Festival".

Chiprovski Mayor Plamen Petkov talked about the town's skills in carpet manufacturing as follows: "We aim to introduce this work, with special festivals as the Chiprovski Kilim Festival which has been well known since 2014. Our city has a very old and rich history. In almost every house, our elder grandmother, our mothers weave these rugs on the weaving loom. This tradition has been living in our town for a long time. "

Chiprovski Mayor Plamen Petkov said that they were producing new projects for the preservation of old traditions and that this industry was a national value, he continued saying: "Our main purpose is to give new life to  this tradition and renew it ... now only the elderly are weaving and they cannot do it on their own. Like everyone else in country, the youth are leaving the small towns. There are several non-governmental organizations and as municipalities, we have applied to the 'Kilim House' project from the EU to receive funding and in doing so we have established the 'Kilim House' Project. This will be the main centre of the Chiprovski rugs. In schools we wish to maket this as a selective class to learn the trade and this will be a division of a Professional class. We wish to protect this natural treasure”.

Festival in early May

The art of rugs in Chiprovski, which has been in existence since the 17th century, is being kept alive with a festival today. A rug festival is held every year in early May. In the festival, both the kilim features and weaving techniques are introduced and shown , which shows its value with its placeon the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List.

In 2014, the Chiprovtsi kilims, which are on UNESCO's World Intangible Cultural Heritage list, have been weaved for centuries. The master weavers weave their own cultural songs, hopes, traditions and beliefs into the chiprovski kilims by choice of color scheme. The rugs that are weaved in Chiprovski are still produced in traditional forms on the vertical weaving loom. In production, cotton and wool are used.

During the festival held this year, the tents that were set up  in the town square put on display the weaving techniques and construction stages for the kilims. The kilims that the masters prepared with traditional motifs were also presented as souvenirs and wall panels. Their various traditions were also portrayed at the festival. In order to pass on the tradition of weaving to younger girls, the weavers of the future were rocked in a rug akin to rocking a baby in a crib. The indispensable Chiprovtsi pastries and the corn cob, a tradition sign of blessing in Bulgarian culture along with kaval music also added color and flavor to the festival venue.

The art of kilim weaving  was also brought to the forefront in all the cultural centers of the town. In the cultural hall connected to the municipality, the master weaver craftwomen exhibited the rugs as well whilst the Regional History Museum presented the rugs in an exhibition especially for visitors.

In the first kilim samples, only the root paint is used in which the dull colors attracted attention. Later in the 18th century, birds, vineyards and flower motifs were added to the kilims by going beyond the geometric patterns called "scissors" and "cutting scissors" designs. New era kilims are usually more colorful, because they are made with synthetic paint. Some rugs today stand out more than ever as they leavve the traditional and classical motifs behind.

One Standing Mosque in Stara Zagora: Hamza Bey Mosque

There were 17 mosques and mosques in Evraziya Celebi a Bulgarian city of Ottoman heritage  in the 17th century . However, today the only mosque  that is in existence is the Hamza Bey Mosque.

Many of the mosques, baths and coverd bazaars were built during the Ottoman period in the former Stara Zagora city of Bulgaria. In the 1877 Ottoman - Russian war, the city was set on fire and many of them disappeared. In the following years the Bulgarian administration destroyed the rest of the Ottoman works. Today Hamza Bey Mosque is the only mosque in the city that has  survived this destruction. According to the written Works of  Evliya Celebi, out of the seventeen mosques and prayer halls, the Hamza Bey mosque is the only one that is standing today.

The mosque was built in 1409. The Hamza Bey Mosque, known as the Old Mosque, is now used as the Religious Museum. The mosque was built by Emir Hamza Bey in the period of Emir Süleyman Celebi, son of Yıldırım Bayezid. Bulgarian historians claimed that an excavation that took place at the base foundation of the mosque was done so in order to locate a Roman temple at the base of the mosque.  In 1856 the mosque was seriously damaged in a fire. It was the only mosque that survived the damage during the Ottoman - Russian war.  In 1985, the assimilation policies that were applied to the Bulgarian Turks  was also applied to the mosque. First the crescent on the single-domed mosque was removed with the minaret destroyed shortly after. Between the years  2008-2013, it was transformed into the Hamza Bey Mosque Religious Museum with financial support provided by the EU.

The city was a cultural and economic center

The Old Zagora city on the skirts of the Balkan mountains, which gave its name to the Balkans, is one of the most important settlements in Bulgaria and  is also one of the oldest cities in Southeast Europe. In the past, the city has been named with different names and has been named Stara Zagora, or "Old Zagora" since 1971. Stara Zagora is Bulgaria's fastest growing economic center.

Population close to 150,000

 The first settlement in the city known to have been established by the Thracians began in the Neolithic period. It was one of the mid-sized cities during the Roman Empire. As a city it had the right to print their own money and distribute them to the largest trade centers of the empire. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries it was one of the greatest and magnificent cities of Thrace. The name of your city that time was Avgusta Trayana. The city was particularly noteworthy for its thermal waters, spas, resources, its walled city and of course the amphitheater and forum squares that were unique to that ancient time.Today, this entire ancient complex is in the center of the city.

In the Ottoman administration, the city became the center of culture and economy. The name of the city was changed to Bulgaria before 1878. It was decided by the church council in Istanbul would establish the episcopacy in Old Zagra in 1870 and use the name Stara Zagora, the Bulgarian version of the Turkish name in the official documents of the Ottoman State.

Today, the Old Zagora, a modern and rapidly developing city, draws attention with its wide streets and green spaces. Old Zagora, a large university town, is also famous for its linden trees and poets.

The city is also home to the Geo Milev Drama Theater, the oldest Bulgarian theater in Thrace. The second opera house opened in 1925 by the name of Old Zagora State Opera after the opening of the  Sofia Opera which is also here. This magnificent monument rising over the city expresses the flag of Samara, one of the first national symbols of the Bulgarians' struggle for liberation and independence. The surrounding area is a lush park and wooded region. Those who visit the city com here not only to see the monument, but also to immerse themselves into the city. Old Zagora manages to attract many toursists with its natural beauties, spas and history.

 

 



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