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Throughout its history, Bosnia & Herzegovina, situated on the ancient ‘border’ between East and West, has been a melting pot of numerous religions and religious orders. Around Bosnia are a number of significant religious sites, although unfortunately many were destroyed in the country’s civil war and have not been rebuilt. Here’s our list of the most beautiful churches, mosques and synagogues in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Probably Banja Luka’s most iconic landmark is its Orthodox cathedral, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. It was constructed relatively recently, in 1929, but was modelled on older, more traditional Orthodox church architecture. On the exterior it features a tall tower and gold domed roof, while the inside is amazingly ornate and decorative. Details inside include a painted ceiling, a wealth of gold objects, and a carved wooden altar. It is found right in the heart of the city, and is a symbol of pride for the inhabitants since it has been a constant feature throughout years of conflict, beginning with persecution of Serbs during the Second World War.
Sarajevo’s main synagogue is Ashkenazi Synagogue, constructed in 1902. An older synagogue is located next door, which now houses the Jewish Museum, while the Ashkenazi Synagogue still functions today as a place of worship. Sarajevo has historically been a place that welcomes the Jewish community, although after the Second World War and the more recent civil war there is not a large Jewish community still living in the city. The synagogue itself is built in a neo-Moorish style, featuring an amazing painted ceiling inside as well as ornate stone carvings on the exterior. The synagogue and adjoining museum are good places to learn more about Sarajevo’s historic Jewish community.
This Catholic monastery of the Trappist Order of monks is located just outside the city of Banja Luka. It is the only Trappist monastery in southeastern Europe, and was once the largest monastery of its kind. Today, however, it is the smallest with only two monks. It was founded in 1869 with the arrival of Austro–Hungarian Christians into the region, and was a key symbol of the increasing presence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Bosnia. Until the beginning of Communist rule in Yugoslavia the monastery was one of the largest printing presses in the country; now, its main production is of Trappist cheese. The church within the abbey complex is the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the whole monastery is exemplary of Central European architecture from the 19th century.
A prominent feature of Mostar’s skyline is this mosque, located near to the famous Stari Most bridge. Built in 1617, it is exemplary of the Ottoman architecture and design that is so prominent in the city, and is open to visitors. A climb up the minaret offers outstanding views of the Stari Most and the surrounding landscape, or, for those fearful of heights, there is also a shady terrace that also provides great views. The interior of the mosque is low-key but nonetheless beautiful, with colourful walls decorations and stained glass windows.