15 Best Museums In Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

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Written by our local expert Bram

Bram was born and raised in Belgium and has traveled the Balkans & beyond. He is a professional freelance travel writer and photographer specializing in outdoor travel with an emphasis on national parks, nature, and wildlife.

If you want to learn more about the historic, culturally, and religiously diverse city of Sarajevo, check out these best museums in Sarajevo.

Sometimes called the “Jerusalem of Europe,” Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of only a few large cities in Europe with a mosque, synagogue, Orthodox church, and Catholic church all in the same area.

It’s easily one of Europe’s most culturally and religiously diverse cities, having been home to Orthodox Serbs, Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats, Roma, and Jews for many centuries. This incredible diversity is reflected in the many great Sarajevo museums.

This ancient city has known some severe turbulence of its past, from its establishment as an Ottoman stronghold to Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, which triggered the First World War.

It also suffered greatly during the violent Bosnian war in the 1990s. Sarajevo underwent the longest siege of a capital city ever to take place in modern warfare.

Nowadays, post-war renovations are still ongoing, but there are also already several modern areas and surviving historic buildings. Sarajevo, an exceptionally diverse and historically rich city, is one of the top destinations in the Balkans. When visiting Sarajevo, you can learn much more about the city’s and country’s culture and history through its museums. Even if you only have one weekend to spend in Sarajevo, a visit to at least one or two of the best museums in Sarajevo is a must.

1. National Museum Of Bosnia And Herzegovina

Best Museums In Sarajevo - National_Museum_of_BiH_Aerial
Photo: Wikipedia

The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the top museums in Sarajevo. First established in 1888, its main exhibitions are in four different pavilions—natural history, archaeology, ethnology, and a library.

There’s also a botanical garden that has a collection of stećci, typical medieval tombstones of Bosnia. (These tombstones are protected as UNESCO World Heritage in numerous locations around the country.)

This is a major scientific institution in the Balkans, its most famous artifact being the Sarajevo Haggadah. This illuminated manuscript is the oldest Jewish document in the world, created in 1350 in Barcelona.

2. Sarajevo Tunnel Museum – Tunnel Of Hope

Sarajevo Tunnel Museum - Best Museums In Sarajevo

The Sarajevo Tunnel Museum is one of those Sarajevo museums located on a site that played a major role in the Bosnian war. Also known as the Tunnel of Hope, it was built by the Bosnian army during the 1993 Siege of Sarajevo and is a must-visit in the city.

The tunnel allowed people to escape and food and humanitarian aid to be brought into the city, which was completely cut off by the Serbian army.

After the war had ended, the Sarajevo Tunnel Museum was established in a private house, the basement of which was the entrance to the tunnel. When you visit this unique Sarajevo museum, you can walk a section of the tunnel. There are also exhibits of flags, military equipment, war photos, and uniforms.

Note that this museum lies outside the city center. The best way to get there is either by renting a car if you have one, or by taxi.

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3. War Childhood Museum

Opened in January 2017, the War Childhood Museum is one of the newest museums in Sarajevo. As its name indicates, its focus lies on the lives of children during the Bosnian war.

It tells kids’ experiences through touching letters, drawings, photographs, personal items, and video testimonials. The collection contains more than 3,000 objects and 60 spoken testimonies from former “war children.”

4. Historical Museum Of Bosnia And Herzegovina

Founded in November 1945, just after the end of World War II, the Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a treasure trove for those eager to dive into Sarajevo’s history. This museum, located in Sarajevo, stands as a testament to the resilience and complexity of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s past, marking it as a must-visit for anyone on a trip to Sarajevo.

From the arrival of the Slavs in the Balkans, establishing the first medieval Bosnian State through centuries of Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian rule, to the era of Tito’s Yugoslavia, the museum spans a vast timeline. If you’re looking to fully grasp the historical dynamics that have shaped this nation, this museum offers an unparalleled glimpse. It’s a small museum in size but vast in its offerings, with a museum collection that includes an impressive array of over 400,000 documents, photos that really mean something, artifacts that tell stories of life in Sarajevo, works of art reflecting its times, and other archival objects.

As part of Sarajevo’s cultural and historical landscape, the museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of events that have left their mark on the city and the country. From the struggle for an independent Bosnia and Herzegovina to the resilience shown during the war in Sarajevo, the exhibits bring to light stories of courage and survival. Its updated 2024 exhibits ensure visitors have access to the most current insights and interpretations.

5. Sarajevo Museum 1878-1918 – Learn About Franz Ferdinand

Best Museums in Sarajevo Sarajevo Museum 1878-1918

This is yet another history museum in Sarajevo. Specifically, the Sarajevo Museum 1878-1918 focuses on the Austro-Hungarian period in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Arguably, it was the most significant period in the country’s long history; it started with modernization after the Ottomans left. This included the construction of power plants, which resulted in the city’s becoming the second place in the world with an electric tram system after San Francisco.

It ended, however, with bloodshed. In 1914, Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Austrian heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand, in the streets of Sarajevo. This would turn out to be the direct cause of the outbreak of the First World War.

The Sarajevo Museum 1878-1918 lies near the Latin Bridge in central Sarajevo, the very spot where the Archduke was killed. Its exhibitions showcase period weaponry, clothing, photographs, and other historical objects. There are also life-size models of Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie.

6. Gallery 11/07/95

Located near the heart of Sarajevo, close to the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Gallery 11/07/95 is not just a gallery but a profound memorial to the Srebrenica genocide, marking one of the darkest chapters in the history of Bosnia.

This gallery, housed in an elegant Austro-Hungarian building, is a place you’ll want to visit in Sarajevo to grasp the full scale of the atrocities committed during the Bosnian war. With exhibits that include the names of over 8,000 victims, personal items recovered from mass graves, and heart-wrenching video and audio recordings, it offers a visceral insight into the tragedy.

The gallery’s powerful display of photographs and maps, along with personal belongings, makes it one of the best Sarajevo museums for those seeking to understand the horrors of war and the resilience of its survivors. This site compels visitors to remember and reflect on the events that shaped contemporary Sarajevo and the broader history of Bosnia.

7. Despić House

As part of the Museum of Sarajevo, Despić House stands as a museum dedicated to showcasing the life of Sarajevo’s affluent Despić family in the 19th century. This well-preserved residence, built in 1881, encapsulates the cultural blend that Sarajevo is known for, with a mix of Western and Eastern influences evident in its decor.

 From Oriental rugs to Western-style furniture, the house offers a glimpse into the cosmopolitan aspects of life in Sarajevo at the time. It’s a room museum that invites visitors to step back in time and experience the daily luxuries and intricacies of a bygone era.

The last Despić family member’s decision to donate this house to the Museum of Sarajevo in 1969 ensures that this part of Sarajevo’s heritage continues to educate and fascinate. Suppose you’re looking for interesting things to do during your visit to Sarajevo. In that case, exploring the Despić House and its unique blend of cultural artifacts is definitely worth adding to your list.

8. The Jewish Museum Of Bosnia And Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s history as a religiously tolerant region goes back all the way to the time when the Ottoman Empire ruled the country. While Spain and Portugal exiled Jews between 1492 and 1497 during the Spanish Inquisition, the Ottomans offered them refuge. The Jewish Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina covers the history of Judaism in the country, from Ottoman rule to the Holocaust.

It’s in the Sephardic Synagogue, dating from 1581, and the oldest synagogue in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although it’s not a particularly large museum, its collection of clothes, maps, paintings, ritual objects, documents, and photographs beautifully showcases Jewish history in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s one of those unique Sarajevo museums that’s absolutely worth checking out.

9. Gazi Husrev-beg Library Museum

Best Museums in Bosnia - Gazi Husrev-beg Library Museum - Library in Sarajevo

Part of the large Gazi Husrev-beg Medresa, the Gazi Husrev-beg Library Museum is an impressive public library in Sarajevo. Founded as early as 1537, it houses one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most significant collections of Islamic manuscripts. Many of them were donated by Gazi Husrev-beg, a Bosnian-Ottoman governor of the Sanjak of Bosnia in the first half of the 16th century.

It’s a fascinating place to walk around, especially if you’re interested in the history of Muslims in Bosnia and the Ottoman Empire. The library holds many different objects, from countless books and manuscripts to newspapers, documents, photographs, and other artifacts. There are, for example, about 20,000 texts in various fields, including philosophy, Islamic sciences, medicine, astronomy, Eastern languages, and mathematics.

10. Svrzo’s House

Constructed back in the days of Ottoman rule in Bosnia, Svrzo’s House is another part of the Museum of Sarajevo. This fascinating house shows what a typical 18th-century Bosnian home would have looked like. It is exceptionally well-preserved; it is a beautiful example of Eastern architecture in Sarajevo, offering insight into how well-off Muslim families lived in Bosnia.

Additionally, this old house’s remarkable characteristic is that it’s made entirely from wood, which is unusual in this region nowadays. The house is open for self-guided tours and is one of the top attractions and best museums in Sarajevo.

11. Museum Of Literature And Performing Arts

Located in the heart of Sarajevo, this museum is a must-visit for anyone wanting to delve into the city’s vibrant literature and theater scene. With its extensive collection, including rare manuscripts and personal belongings of famous Bosnian writers and performers, it offers everything you need to know about the artistic journey of Sarajevo.

 Its intimate size makes it a small museum, but it’s definitely worth a visit, especially for those interested in the rich history and culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

12. National Gallery of Bosnia And Herzegovina

As one of the best Sarajevo museums, the National Gallery stands as a testament to Bosnia’s artistic achievements, featuring a permanent exhibition of Bosnian art from the 20th century onwards. Located near the Sarajevo Cathedral, it’s a pivotal part of Sarajevo’s cultural landscape, offering visitors a chance to see how the city’s history has influenced its art. Audio guides available in English make it easy for adults and children alike to understand the significance of the works on display.

13. Brusa Bezistan

This museum, housed in an original Ottoman-era market building, is a fascinating place to visit for those interested in Sarajevo’s Ottoman past. With a collection that showcases artifacts about Sarajevo during the Ottoman period, it’s a key site for anyone looking to know the history of Sarajevo and the broader region. The museum is located in Sarajevo’s bustling bazaar area, making it an easy addition to a trip to Sarajevo’s historic center.

14. Museum Of Crimes Against Humanity And Genocide – Siege Of Sarajevo

Updated for 2024, this museum provides a harrowing look at the war in Bosnia and the crimes against humanity that happened in Sarajevo and beyond. It’s an essential visit for those who want to understand the impact of the last war on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The museum is open to the public, with exhibits that include photos and artifacts, making it a poignant reminder of the importance of peace. It’s a place to visit not just to remember the past but to inspire a better future.

15. Sarajevo Brewery Museum

A trip to Sarajevo wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Sarajevo Brewery Museum, which is dedicated to the tradition of beer brewing in the city. The museum is housed within the historic brewery building, which is a significant part of Sarajevo’s industrial heritage.

Visitors can enjoy a tour that includes a tasting of their beers, making it a perfect stop for those looking to combine history with leisure. The museum’s collection, detailing the brewery’s survival and service to the city during the siege of Sarajevo, adds a unique layer to the city’s war narrative.

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