Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why I'm Going to Bosnia

Bosnia and Herzegovina - a tiny country in southeastern Europe. What do you know about the country? Would you ever think of traveling there?

I have traveled a lot over the years. I have been to Las Vegas, London, and Hong Kong. I lived for two years in Bulgaria, using that country as a base for excursions into Serbia, Romania, Macedonia, and Turkey. I have explored Amsterdam, Prague, Madrid, and Budapest. I have walked the streets of Macau, taken the subway in New York.

So, why I am I so keen on traveling to Bosnia and Herzegovina?

It all started with a book. The novel People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, inspired by a true story, tells the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript. This colorful holy book was spared destruction during World War Two when it was saved by an Islamic scholar and hidden in a village mosque. Its history goes back even further, to 14th century Spain and Venice.

The novel fascinated me. It was also exciting to learn that one of the characters in the story, a member of the partisans fighting against the Nazis, was based on a true person, the mother of one of the members of the moshav where I live near Jerusalem.

I couldn't stop thinking about Sarajevo, a city famous for its cultural religious diversity. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo in 1914 was the "shot heard round the world" that sparked World War I.

Until recently, Sarajevo was the only major European city to have a mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church, and synagogue within the same neighborhood. Sarajevo is said to be the most oriental of all European capitals, and I can't wait to visit.

Oh, and I will also be traveling in Montenegro and Croatia, areas of the Balkans I've never previously visited.

My desire to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina was the result of reading a novel. Who knows where the next book I read will take me?


  1. Sofia has had a mosque, synagogue, Catholic and Orthodox church within metres of each other perhaps for a longer time than Sarajevo. That's not to say I wouldn't love to visit Bosnia though!

  2. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures there.