Europe’s only self-governing free city and symbol of peace in Bosnia lies to the northeast, along the banks of the River Sava. Brcko has mixed demographics as Bosnia’s fourth autonomous region. Despite the rich and fascinating history, few visit Brcko, and it feels a million miles away from tourist hotspot Mostar. But here’s a guide to the many great things to see and do in Brcko that are worth the time.
Trg Mladih is the city’s heart and one of the first places to see in Brcko. Late 19th-century Austro-Hungarian buildings line the pedestrianised street, including former merchant houses, the nearby City Hall, and Hotel Posavina. Because of the prime location along the River Sava, Brcko became relatively wealthy from plum exports fuelling the city’s development.
Locals hang out in the central square, which gets busy and crowded in the evenings. You’ll find some of the best cafés and bars in Brcko along this stretch as well as vendors selling popcorn and ice cream.
Anyone who visits Brcko must get a photograph with one of the city’s most famous landmarks: Fontana Mladosti. Located along Try Mladih, the fountain depicts a young boy and a girl holding a fish. The fountain symbolises the deep connection between the locals and the River Sava.
The prominent orange and yellow City Hall (1892) sits next to the oldest hotel in Brcko, Grand Hotel Posavina, and shares many similarities to Sarajevo’s City Hall: Vijecnica (1896). Both have extravagant designs in a Moorish Revival style commissioned under the Austro-Hungarians. Brcko’s City Hall once housed the Municipality Building before becoming a post office and library. Today, it’s the Mayor’s Office. Visiting City Hall is one of the best things to do in Brcko to admire the façade’s beauty, stained glass windows, and opulence.
Sacred Heart Church
If you head south from Trg Mladih along Bosne Srebrene, you’ll reach Brcko’s only Catholic church. The simple white-washed building makes for a fantastic photo opportunity to capture its elegance. Sacred Heart Church expanded in 1933 from the original structure dating back to 1890. After the church, continue south and explore Velika Park before returning to Bosne Srebrene, where you’ll find restaurants in Brcko serving traditional Bosnian food.
If you want to relax and enjoy views of the River Sava and Croatia, head to Ficibajer just over a kilometre northeast of Trg Mladih. The park stretches along the river with benches, shady areas, and great photo opportunities. Few tourists visit Ficibajer and they miss out on one of the best places in Brcko to relax.
Atik-Savska Dzamija, the city’s oldest mosque dating back to 1600, sits on the Riva Sava and River Brka’s confluence. Once wooden, the mosque served Ottoman soldiers at the nearby fort. After centuries of destruction and renovation, Atik-Savska reopened in 2007 and became a national monument.
Unique in its design, today’s mosque has a white exterior with three tall arches at the front and a single minaret. The pyramid-shaped roof, similar to Turalibeg’s Mosque in Tuzla, has terracotta tiles and a distinctive design, making it one of the top places to see in Brcko.
Arizona Market, named after a nearby American base during the War when Brcko was a split city, has the claim of largest flea market in Eastern Europe. Once a haven for black market goods, it now has hundreds of stalls selling everything from fresh produce to Yugoslavian memorabilia. Unfortunately, finding the market isn’t easy, and you’ll need to rely on locals for directions rather than Google Maps. If you do visit, check out the stalls with roasted lamb and traditional dishes for some of the best food in Brcko.