JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH AHMET SINANAGICT FROM BRCKO, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA!
Ahmet Sinanagić is a 33 years old traveller from Bosnia and Herzegovina with a PhD degree in Marketing. He uses all of his free time to travel across the world, but in recent years, he has been focusing on getting to know Europe better. He loves sharing his travel experiences on his blog which he has been writing since 2014. It gives him pleasure when his example encourages other people to travel, broaden their horizons and gain new knowledge and experience.
BRCKO [ BRITCH – KO]
Thriving as Europe’s only free city, Brčko lies on the banks of Sava river across from Croatia. This small Bosnian city is relatively unheard of compared to its capital Sarajevo. This completely self governing border city lies close to Croatia and Serbia and is one of the most ethnically mixed city of Bosnia. Brčko was torn apart when war broke out in 1992, people fled and returned back only when peace was restored. However, Brčko has not been immune to problems ever since.
Please tell us something about you and your connection with Brčko.
I was born in Brčko, a city located in North-Eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the age of four, I escaped the city due to the war in my country in early nineties. That’s why I have very few childhood memories related to my city. I could only imagine what my life in the Brčko would have looked like if the war had not happened. Eight years later my family gained the conditions to return to our hometown. It was the beginning of a new life for me, a chance to meet new friends, but also an opportunity to develop awareness of the complicated political situation in the country. Brčko as a unique political project within Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose goal was to create a harmonious environment in which people of different ethnic groups live and work together, also contributed to the development of my personality by becoming a person who respects all people equally regardless of their differences.
As a local, what do you think distinguishes Brčko from the rest of Bosnia & Herzegovina?
Brčko lies on the right bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s largest river Sava across from Croatia. Due to the proximity of the Croatian and Serbian borders, it represents an important transit, economic and political center of the country. Because of a particular events in its recent history Brčko became probably the only entirely self-governing free city currently in existence in Europe. It has its own education system, free-standing courts and separate health and police services. Its favorable geographical position and connection with important cities in the region make Brčko easy to visit and a great base for travelling across Europe. Brčko is also renowned for having a border crossing located in the city center.
Which are the top three places to visit in your city?
Brčko is not a classic tourist city, but it has some very interesting places for visiting. Youth Square (Bos. Trg mladih) is the main city square with representative buildings mostly dating from the period of Austrian-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today it’s a lively place with a lot of coffee shops and flowers where most public cultural events take place.
Next place I’d recommend that you visit in Brčko is the promenade along the Sava River with its recreation zone called Ficibajer. You can enjoy beautiful sunset walks, play different sports or prepare your own barbecue there.
Another place to visit in Brčko is the City Hall (Bos. Gradska vijećnica), the most prominent landmark in the city, built in the Moorish Revival style. Its construction preceded the construction of more famous City Hall in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from your city? Would you recommend renting a car for day trips or using public transport?
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small country, so you can take various day trips from Brčko. For example, you can visit any of three different capital cities in the region (Sarajevo, Belgrade and Zagreb) in a day.
But if we focus on the attractions located about an hour away by car I would recommend visiting medieval fortresses of Srebrenik and Gradačac, as well as salt lakes in Tuzla or Stanišići ethno village. Majevica Mountain is located half an hour drive from Brčko.
Srebrenik fortress is a fortress located near the city of Srebrenik. It is a national monument of Bosnia & Herzegovina and is located to the north east of Majevica Mountain. Experience splendid scenery up there.
The Ethno Village Stanisici is located on the edge of the city of Bijeljina in the plains of Semberija in the Republika Srpska. Most structures there are old Bosnian houses. You can engage yourself in a variety of activities there.
Other interesting places in the countryside, such as Stone Spheres in Zavidovići and Kozica Waterfalls, are just a few hours drive away from Brčko. If you’re doing a day trip, I’d recommend renting a car, because public transport can’t take you to certain places. Keep in mind that the traffic infrastructure is poor on some sections of the roads in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, Google maps can sometimes be misleading, so if you get lost, ask some locals for directions.
Which according to you are the must try local dishes of Brčko? Any suggestion on popular local places to try them?
Brčko is not a gastronomy center of the country, but one can still eat well here. Some restaurants can offer you traditional Bosnian dishes as well as international cuisine. My favorite restaurants are Bakarni lonac and Vila Bakarni, and if you are looking for some fast food, Baron grill is surely the best choice. I recommend you to try desserts in the pastry shop called Rimini.
Are there any popular weekend/night/flea markets in the city which tourists must visit? Anything that one must bring home from Brčko?
The most popular flea market in Brčko is Arizona Market, half an hour drive away from the city center. There you can find a wide range of stuff including clothes, accessories, house supplies, furniture and etc. Green market is operating on daily basis, so you can visit it to get some fresh food and experience the city from a different perspective. As I already mentioned, Brčko is not a place of mass tourism, so it’s not easy to find a souvenir with local motives. The best souvenirs to bring home from Brčko are actually edible ones including domestic honey, brandy or marmalade.
Please suggest places from where one can get the best view of the city?
Brčko is located in the plain, so there are no natural lookouts in the city and all tall buildings are in private property and not available for visiting. New “Sky bar” which will be located on top of one of the buildings in the city center is announced to be opened soon, so visitors will get a nice city view from there. If you still want to enjoy some nice views I recommend taking a drive to the slopes of Majevica mountain from where it is possible to enjoy the view of the city in the distance.
Are there any events or festivals in Brčko around which tourists should plan their holiday to feel the local culture?
Brčko is famous for its summer festival “Savski cvijet” which takes place in the first week of August and includes various music, literary, sports, dance and arts events. Younger visitors will enjoy “Color festival”, a music event with popular music that is also held in the summer. “Pozorišni susreti” theater festival is traditionally held in November. There are also occasional events like exhibitions of paintings in the City Gallery, Books Fair, Honey Fair and others.
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in your city?
Brčko is a small, friendly town and everything is within walking distance, so it’s easy to navigate your way through the town without any apps. Eventually, Google maps and Tripadvisor will provide you with all the necessary information.
As a local would you want to give any suggestion/tip to tourists visiting your city?
The city is liveliest during the summer, although it’s most beautiful during the late spring. I’d recommend you to enjoy its multiculturalism, historical landmarks, walks by its rivers Sava and Brka, tasty food and the countryside surrounding the city.
If you want to learn more about the history and art of the city, visit the legacy house of a local sculptor Sead Ekmečić who created Brčko’s famous fountain located on the main square. Also, I recommend visiting Bećirević House, which shows life and work of one of the most respected families in the history of the city. Meet some local people and let them show you traditional Bosnian hospitality.
THINGS TO KNOW :
Visa : Foreigners who have a multiple-entry Schengen Visa, can enter and stay in Bosnia and Hercegovina up to 15 DAYS upon every entry per period of 180 DAYS, if visa previously used in one of the Schengen Area. For more information click here.
Nearby Cities : Major cities of Bosnia and Hercegovina are Sarajevo.