Sarajevo

Sarajevo by CC user zlakfoto on Flickr

Introduction

Once home to the 1984 Winter Olympics, the hope that this event would wipe clean the memory of this place being the site of the start of World War I was dashed when the declaration of independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina touched off a civil war that proceeded to tear this metropolis apart.

After a lengthy three year siege, many wondered if this place would ever recover its former glory. In 2015, it would appear that Sarajevo has made significant strides in pursuit of this goal, and with prices here being much lower than centres of comparable size further west, it will make for an excellent stop on your tour of Europe.

Latin Bridge by CC user wackelijmrooster on Flickr

War Attractions

There are many sites that detail Sarajevo’s involvement in wars both recent (the civil war in 1990’s) and in the more distant past (World War I), so it makes sense to get this place’s sombre points of interest out of the way first on a visit to what is otherwise a naturally gorgeous and culturally rich city.

Gallery 11/07/95 is a heart-wrenching display of the human toll that the civil war between Bosnian Muslims and ethnic Serbs had on the country, but on Sarajevo in particular, as this place was under siege for almost three years by artillery shells and sniper bullets.

Photos, videos and physical artifacts of civilians and fighters that lived in each one of those dark days drive home to those that visit that war isn’t some video game that you observe with a similar level of detachment – if you are involved in the conflict (often due to circumstances against your will).

Conduct yourself with respect, as this will be unlike any museum you have likely seen before in your life.

The siege of Sarajevo may have exacted a heavier human toll if it weren’t for the construction of the Sarajevo War Tunnel, which enabled Bosnian fighters and humanitarian aid to get past the Serbian blockade during those trying times.

Started from the cellar of a private home, this hastily constructed supply line went under the runway of Sarajevo Airport, and while much of this tunnel is closed for safety reasons today, a 20 metre section can be walked by visitors, and the home itself is a museum containing war artifacts and materials related to the clandestine construction of this essential piece of infrastructure for Bosnian forces.

The Civil War wasn’t the only conflict that started amidst Sarajevo’s backdrop of historic building and low rolling mountains. The Latin Bridge was the site of a crime that launched the so-called War to End All Wars, commonly known today as World War I. It was here where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by one of a shadowy group of hit men belonging to the Black Hands secret society.

They had aimed to achieve the separation of two Serbian provinces from AustriaHungary. They instead set the wheels in motion for one of the deadliest wars in human history. The Latin Bridge itself is quite stunning in its construction, but it is this infamous event that will define its place in history forever more.

Baščaršija Market by CC user motoyen on Flickr

Cultural & Natural Attractions

Once you are done paying tribute to Sarajevo’s war-filled past, take in sights related to more peaceful times by touring its Old Town. As you walk its cobblestone streets, revel in the religious diversity that exists here even after the turmoil of twenty years ago, as church bells, Muslim calls to prayer, and Jewish synagogues can all be found within its confines.

One of the best attractions in Sarajevo’s Old Town is the Baščaršija, where commerce in this city had been conducted since the 15th century. While its importance has declined in modern times, it is still the home of cultural celebrations throughout the year, and its market stalls are an excellent place to take home a sterling silver tea set to commemorate your time in Bosnia.

The Sarajevo area might not have the soaring peaks that define the Alps, but the older rock of the mountains in the Sarajevo area still makes for a stunning backdrop for those that visit Vrelo Bosne, a park situated southwest of city limits.

Home to a spring that gives rise to the River Bosna, waterfalls, streams, bridges and outdoor cafes all define this very green place, making it an excellent spot to wind down your time in Bosnia and Herzgovina’s capital.

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