Edit Blog Post
Published: September 28th 2012
Sarajevo our next destination is a place I had been interested in visiting for a long time now so I was very excited when we hopped off the hot overloaded bus from Dubrovnik.
Sarajevo is a place most famous for the assignation of Archduke Franz Ferdinand which was the trigger to World War One and the four year siege over the city. Sarajevo has a rich and interesting history as it is a place where the Western and Eastern Roman Empire split and where the people of the Roman Catholic west, Eastern Orthodox east and the Ottoman south connected living together. Many cities like to claim they have a history of mixing cultures (usually based on having a mosque, cathedral and synagogue in the same area) however Sarajevo has really been a centre that major empires have met and it is still evident walking around the city today.
The ottomans built the city in a valley, which is quite rare for such an old city as it is a poor tactical position for invasion (the Serbian army would take full advantage of this in the 90’s war) but it is a spectacular view to look at from inside the
city. We were able to get some great pictures of the houses that are looking down on the city.
We decided to spend three nights here; my main ambition was to do a tour of the tunnels that were used during the siege in the 90s. On the first day we did a tour of the tunnels, this was really one of the best tours I have done since leaving home.
Our tour guide was a 26 year old female who had been between 6-10 years old during the siege, it was heart wrenching hearing what these people went through during this time (some of her direct family members had been killed). The tunnels had been dug under the airport and were the only way people were able to get food and weapons into the city without being shot at by snipers or tanks which were situated in the mountains surrounding the city. She was lucky and was able to flee to the United States with her mother but in her own words it was “too late” and that the people who had survived have been irrevocably scarred, this was really evident when she was questioned either about
family, Serbs or the United Nations.
She showed us just how close the army was when we drove down what was once called sniper alley. She also explained how she began school during the siege which was held in the basements of buildings. We viewed a movie which showed visions of the city being shelled, with people having to run between buildings to get anywhere in the city. I remember some of this footage on the news as a child but being here and seeing the damage was surreal. In all 11 000 people died including 1500 children. We were able to walk into the remaining part of the tunnel which was incredibly small and tried carrying the 50kg backpack which was the average weight people carried through the tunnels.
The next day we did a walking tour of the city, again run by a young Bosnian. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable of both modern and ancient history of the city, but it was again evident that there was still much hurt at what had happened during the war. We have been to so many cities that have suffered war or genocide, but the fact that the war
happened just a decade and a half ago was really evident in the people’s attitudes and outlooks. Much of the cities shelling was still evident on the scared buildings, and on street floors with many of the ‘Sarajevo Roses’ (red blotches left on the ground after shells that had hit) which have been left as reminders to a city that I don’t think will be ever forget.
One thing I learnt about the siege that stood out for me was the so called ‘weekend warriors’ that fought for the Serbian Army during the war. Serbian civilians who joined the siege on weekends on their days off to see how many Bosnians they could kill for boasting purposes! Although after talking to lady we met at the airport who was an aid worker in Sarajevo just after the siege, it seems more realistic that these weekend soldiers were forced into this situation. This is just one of the many atrocities that people lived through during the times of the war.
Apart from this both horrific and interesting history, Sarajevo is worth a visit in its own right as it is quite a beautiful city. The old town has a
very authentic ottoman feel. The bazaar may not live up to Istanbul in size but it is just as fun and interesting to walk around, barter, eat and shop in. We ate the local food which is basically sausages in a wrap and had the local beer which is apparently the seventh best in the world (not sure where they found that stat). We had a few good nights out at some bars and a particular rowdy night out when the national soccer team won which was great fun. We both felt a real connection with Sarajevo and would love to return to Bosnia to see more of the country. Now we are off Hamburg Germany to support the Aussie boys in the Davis cup!!!
Tot: 0.461s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 21; qc: 84; dbt: 0.0184s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb