The name “Archduke Franz Ferdinand” is intrinsically associated with the beginning of World War I. The war may not have begun if Archduke Franz Ferdinand hadn’t been assassinated. If WWI hadn’t begun, WWII may not have begun either. And if WWII hadn’t happened, contemporary geopolitics would be radically different.
These are conditional arguments, which are by definition hypothetical, but the importance of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand is unquestionable. Hours before his murder, the Archduke spent his final night on Earth at the Austria & Bosna Hotel in Ilidža, a spa town a short 16-minute drive from downtown Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The hotel still stands and operates to this day as a luxury five-star destination.
Designed by Czech architect Franz Blazek, the Austria & Bosna Hotel is nested in 40 hectares of green in the heart of Ilidža. It opened its doors in 1892, and it immediately attracted elite tourists and VIPs, including Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie, his wife, who used to stay in the hotel when they were in Sarajevo. The choice of accommodation was not accidental. In addition to all the amenities of a luxury hotel, the hotel had electric lighting, telephones, telegraphs, and even a post office.
On June 25, 1914, the Archduke and Duchess checked in at the hotel. As usual, they were given the most spacious and luxurious suite the facility could offer, and special security arrangements were made with local infantry forces.
On June 27, records show the couple held a lavish banquet attended by the rich and famous. In the meantime, an editor of a local newspaper by the name of Danilo Ilić was handing out weapons to a group of young conspirators with the intent to assassinate Ferdinand.
The next day, at around 9:30 a.m., the Archduke and Duchess left the hotel. Shortly after that, a bomb was thrown at them, but it bounced on the seat and injured some bystanders. At around 11:00, both the Archduke and Duchess were shot dead by Gavrilo Princip, one of the young conspirators armed by Danilo Ilić.
Currently, the Austria & Bosna Hotel consists of two distinct hotels: Hotel Austria, with 30 rooms, two suites, and one restaurant, and Hotel Bosna, with 58 rooms, 10 suites, one restaurant, and two congress halls.