The Golden Lily
Bosnia’s national symbol is the endemic golden lily (Lilium bosniacum). Historically, it was symbolic of the 14th-century pre-Islamic Bosnian Kingdom and has since come to represent both Bosnia and Bosniaks (Muslims). The old flag used six lilies against a blue background. But, things aren’t as simple as they seem, which leads to a strange contradiction. Lilies are often associated with Christianity, but they are Bosnia’s national symbol, a nation with a Muslim majority.
Hear Gunfire? They’re Not Shooting at You!
A strange tradition in rural parts of Bosnia occurs during large celebrations such as weddings and childbirth. Jubilant revellers fire guns into the air. We’ve all seen cartoon characters jumping up and down shooting a firearm skywards in celebration, right? Well, this tradition still happens in some parts of Bosnia too.
The First Winter Olympics in a Communist Country
Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics when Bosnia was part of Yugoslavia, becoming the first communist nation to host the event. The Winter Olympics put Sarajevo on the map, but sadly, eight years later the glory and heritage died along with 1000s of Sarajevians in the Siege of Sarajevo.
Despite the religious tolerance, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ethnic tensions simmering away below the surface. The 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement ended the Bosnian War but didn’t resolve the underlying issues. Bosnia is a divided country with ethnic Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs often having a majority in their own regions. Mostar, Bosnia’s most visited city, is segregated with Bosniaks and Croats generally living on different sides of the River Neretva.
The World’s First Mosque to Use Electricity is in Bosnia.
Sarajevo’s 16th-century Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque is famous for plenty of reasons; for example, it is the largest, most important and one of the oldest mosques. But, there’s another interesting fact cementing its place in world history. In 1898, Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque became the first in the world to use electricity.
Herzegovina’s Catholic Pilgrimage Site
In 1981, six children allegedly witnessed something magical transforming the small Herzegovinian town of Medjugorje forever. Mary, Mother of Jesus, appeared on the hill to the six children, turning this town near Mostar into a major pilgrimage site for Catholics around the world. Since 1981, more than 30 million people have visited. Some claim to see the sun spinning in the sky and unexplained figures forming the shape of a cross around the sun.