My wife and I arrived in Sarajevo in June, as part of our tour of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We were eager to visit a city rich in history, culture, and religious diversity.
Our trip to Sarajevo coincided with the one hundred year anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria - the shot that sparked World War I. Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984; the city suffered heavily while under siege during Bosnia's war for independence, 1992-1995. The Sarajevo Haggadah, an illuminated Hebrew manuscript dating to the 14th century and considered the most valuable book in the world is housed in Bosnia's National Museum, which has been closed since late 2012 due to lack of funding. So much history!
Before we had a chance to see the city, we enjoyed a cultural experience that took us quite by surprise. Who would have imagined that the most colorful part of our visit to the Bosnian capital would be seen by looking out our hotel window?
As we were resting, we heard noises from below. Looking out the window we saw a bride and groom arrive in a horse-drawn carriage.
Okay, a wedding party, we thought. But after the bridge and groom and their guests had entered the hotel for their celebrations, we heard additional noise on the street.
There were children dressed in costume near the hotel's parking lot. We left our room and went outside to investigate.
There were children everywhere, festive in colorful skirts, jackets and headwear. The children were talking and joking, waiting anxiously for something exciting to begin.
And then we noticed something else. The children were from different countries! There were delegations from Albania, from Macedonia, and from Russia. Turkey and Bulgaria were represented. What was going on?
The children from Macedonia struck a pose. We realized these were dance ensembles, from all over the Balkans and nearby countries.
We spoke to some parents and they explained that there was a cultural festival that evening.The children would be marching through the neighborhood on their way to the performance hall.
The children were so lovely, excited to be part of a regional culture event. We wished we could attend their performance, but we had other plans.
The parade began! The children began marching down the street and my wife and I snapped picture after picture. There were hardly any other tourists around to see the colorful spectacle.
We had witnessed something special, a memorable souvenir of our visit to Sarajevo.