Sarajevo in Yugoslavia
After the II World War Sarajevo grew at an amazing
speed and quickly became one of the most important...

After the II World War Sarajevo grew at an amazing speed and quickly became one of the most important industrial centers of the Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. At the time, Yugoslavia was a closed society with open borders.

Written Word

On 10 December 1961, one of the greatest Bosnian writers, Ivo Andrić (1892 – 1975) won the Nobel Prize for his novel “The Bridge on the Drina” (orig. Na Drini ćuprija). He was the first writer in former Yugoslavia to win a Nobel Prize for Literature. In his works, amongst other things, there are texts about Sarajevo: “City Records”, “Jewish Cemetery”, “Buffet Titanic”, “Miss”. He donated his award to Bosnian Librarianship.

At this time, one of the most authentic poets of the region, Mehmedalija Mak Dizdar (1917 – 1971) writes his most famous work, a book of poems “Stone Sleeper” (Orig. Kameni spavač), created on the trail of medieval Bosnian scriptures. Novelist Meša Selimović (1910 – 1982) lived in Sarajevo from 1947 to 1971. In his works, he deals with the problems of a modern man by returning to the past, especially in relation to individuals rebelling against the authorities (novels Silence, Death and the Dervish, Fortress etc.). Poet Izet Kiko Sarajlić (1930 – 2002) is an author of more than thirty poetry books, some of which have been translated into 15 different languages, while poet Abdulah Sidran (1944-), in addition to his extensive poetry works, is also generally known for his screenplays for movies Do You Remember Dolly Bell? (1981) and When Father Was Away on Business (1985). Both films were directed by Emir Kusturica and received awards at international film festivals in Venice and Cannes.

A particularly exciting addition to contemporary local, and even global world of literature, certainly are Dževad Karahasan, Semezedin Mehmedinović, Miljenko Jergović and Aleksandar Hemon.

Sarajevo is experiencing its greatest development from the late seventies until the 8th February 1984 when the Winter Olympic Games were opened at the Koševo Stadium. While for some this period is related to the great economic crisis in Yugoslavia, others see it as the golden age of Sarajevo. During those years Sarajevo had a strong football and basketball teams, as well as extremely recognizable music scene.

Music Scene

“Sarajevo Pop-Rock School” is the term commonly used for the period and the music groups formed in Sarajevo between 1960 and 1991. Music from this period helped Sarajevo to create a separate identity, which made it a center of Yugoslav rock’n’roll scene.

Throughout the sixties and seventies, a number of pop groups are formed in Sarajevo. Pop groups such as Indexi and Bijelo Dugme (White Button), as well as singers Kemal Monteno and Zdravko Čolić will be the initiators and will continue to carry Sarajevo’s pop rock scene.

In the early eighties Sarajevo already had established music artists, but there was no freshness which would respond to the “New Wave”, already popular in all former republics. And then Sarajevo offered something completely new, a new approach to rock’n’roll. A group of high-school friends formed a band “Zabranjeno pušenje” (No Smoking). They also began to host a weekly radio show, which later became TV Series “Top lista nadrealista”. The series was a huge success. The characters portrayed were ordinary people who found themselves in surreal situations. They spoke Sarajevo street language and they called their artistic movement “The New Primitivism”. The crowds across the country considered their humor typically Bosnian.

Sarajevo pop rock school will forever be recorded as a phenomenon due to musicians who, over three decades, managed to express the unique spirit of Sarajevo. Their songs, many of which transcended time constraints, will forever remain in the music anthology of this region.

Motion Picture

The film came to Bosnia and Herzegovina on 27 July 1914 when Sarajevo hosted the first film screening. Some of the most significant materials were recorded by Antun Volić in his 1914 film Sarajevo Assassination of Franz Ferdinand, which was screened around the world. The organized cinematography was institutionalized only after the II World War, when most films were war-themed.

During the sixties, “Sarajevo School of Documentary Film” became a cult film movement. The first major BiH project was a film spectacle “Kozara”, which became the typical representative of the war-themed films which followed.

In the seventies European and world cinema was dominated by “political films” and the reflection of this in Bosnia and Herzegovina was film noir. In 1971, at the Pula Film Festival film The Role of My Family in the Revolution, directed by Bata Čengić was first screened. Ćengić shook both the public and the Communist Party with a film which openly criticizes the political system and draws attention to “small, ordinary people”. This approach placed Čengić on Communist Party’s blacklist. His films are censored and stored away. In 1972 director Hajrudin Šiba Krvavac creates the iconic Yugoslav partisan film Walter Defends Sarajevo, his interpretation of the real-life anti-fascist fighter in the II World War, Vladimir Perić Valter.

In the eighties, Bosnian productions such as Do You Remember Dolly Bell (1982), Father Away on Business (1985) and the Gypsies (1988) by Emir Kusturica; Smell of Quince (1983) by Mirza Idrizović and Kuduz (1989) by Ademir Kenović, make their mark on World Cinema history.

The beginning of the nineties carries a breath of change evident in films such as Holiday in Sarajevo, directed by Benjamin Filipović and Silent Gunpowder, directed by Bata Čengić. Nevertheless, the biggest change was brought by the war, but as far as the production was concerned, this period was very creative. Hundreds of documentaries about the life and death in the besieged city have been recorded during the four war years. Those films have been shown around the world and they are the only true image of what was really happening in Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of the most famous documentaries is MGM (MAN-GOD-MONSTER).

The most important turning point in the film industry of Bosnia and Herzegovina came in 2002 when Danis Tanović won an award for best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival for his debut film No Man’s Land, followed by the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Later that year, Ahmed Imamović won the European Film Academy Award for best short film for his film 10 Minutes. In the next few years, the film industry produces Remake by Dino Mustafić, Fuse by Pjer Žalica, Summer in the Golden Valley by Srđan Vuletić, Days and Hours by Pjer Žalica, Go West by Ahmed Imamović and Well-Tempered Corpses by Benjamin Filipović.

Year 2006 was marked by the film Grbavica by Jasmila Žbanić who won the Golden Bear at the festival in Berlin. This is only the third feature film directed by a woman in the history of BiH film.

Several exceptional films were produced between 2007 and 2012: It’s Hard to Be Nice by Srđan Vuletić, Snow and Children by Aida Begić, Night Watchers by Namik Kabil, On the Path by Jasmila Žbanić, Circus Columbia by Danis Tanović, Sevdah for Karim by Jasmina Duraković, Jasmina by Nedžad Begović, The Abandoned by Adis Bakrač and Belvedere by Ahmed Imamović.

In 2013, in official competition at the Berlin Film Festival, Danis Tanović film Episode from the Life of an Iron Picker won the Silver Bears for the Best Film and Best Actor, as well as The Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. Two more films were completed in the same year: With Mom by Faruk Lončarević and For Those Who Can Tell No Tales by Jasmila Žbanić.


The seventies were important in sports as well. The biggest success of Sarajevo club football was FC Željezničar reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup 1971/72. In 1975 and 1977, Jahorina hosts European Cup for Men and Women’s World Cup “Zlatna lisica” (Golden Fox). The biggest success of club basketball is the title of the European Champion in 1979, brought to Sarajevo by BC Bosna.

From 1945 to mid-seventies, Sarajevo increased its size six and a half times and the city of half a million people was simply suffocating. The City initiated a study about “The development of winter tourism in Sarajevo region” which included a formal bid to host the Olympic Games. In one of the first projects of its kind, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina had to introduce the gas lines, reconstruct many roads and generally, bring the infrastructure to a much higher level.

The main objectives of organizing the Olympics were construction of sports facilities for a more fulfilled and healthier life of all Sarajevans, development of winter tourism and other economic activities, as well as the positive promotion of Sarajevo and BiH.

The list of countries applying to host the 1984 Winter Olympics was announced in Lausanne on 4 November 1977. They were: Japan (Sapporo), Sweden (Göteborg), Yugoslavia (Sarajevo) and France (Chamonix) which later dropped out. Six months later, on 19 May 1978 in Athens, in the second round voting of the 70 IOC members, Bosnia received 3 more votes than Japan and Sarajevo entered the Olympic history books.

Sarajevo was chosen based on a proposed concept which remains unique; the essence of the concept was to organize all sports disciplines and games in general within a radius of 24 kilometers.

The Olympic Games in Sarajevo completely changed the city. From the moment this was announced, Sarajevo became a huge construction site. The Olympic Games transformed the city into a metropolis. 131 million US Dollars was spent on constructing Koševo stadium, Zetra hall, restoring Skenderija, constructing Nordic and biathlon stadium, ski jump, ski slopes on Bjelašnica and Jahorina and bobsleigh and toboggan track on Trebević, which alone cost $12 milion.

Sarajevo had reached the pinnacle of its development during the eighties, making this one of the most prosperous decades in the history of Sarajevo.

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Must see

Top Attractions

Bascarsija & Sebilj

Ottoman era begins in 1461 when the city was founded by the first Bosnian governor Ishak-beg Isaković (Ishak Bay Isaković), a pioneer in planned construction.

City Hall

The new government displays superiority with large buildings. Aleksandar Vitek and Ćiril Iveković work on the design for Vijećnica (City Hall)

Gazi Husrev Beg Mosque

Another permanent stamp was left by Gazi Husrev Beg (Gazi Husrev Bey), triple Bosnian Steward and Builder.In 1530, with his own money, he built the most monumental building of Islamic culture in B&H

Orthodox Church

As Orthodox grew in numbers, so did the need to build a new church. It took over a decade to build one and it was completed in the last years of the Ottoman rule in 1874.