“My trip to Bosnia was a part of my tour of the Balkan peninsula south-eastern Europe. I must confess that when I planned the trip I had little idea of what to expext from it and I did not expect too much since I had mentally told myself that former part of a communist regime — Yugoslavia — would have nothing much to offer of tourist interest”, Vibha Jain writes.
“My first impression of Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo, was that it was like a beautiful red painting, with the entre piece being the iconic bridge Latin Bridge that stretches over the Miljacka in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. For those interested in history, the northern end of the bridge was the site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by Gavrilo Princip in 1914, the ghastly event that sparked World War I. Sarajevo was also the epicentre of the infamous siege by Serbia that sparked the Bosnian war. But that was a long time ago and the region’s tourism industry definitely wants to portray a different picture of Bosnia as an important country in the region with its beautiful cities and a great paradise for nature lovers. Its buildings have been scrubbed clean, its historical monuments renovated and its government is now making fresh efforts to host another Olympic games like the winter Olympics that it hosted in 1984,” Jain adds.
Like most of the cities of the Balkan region, Sarajevo is a quaint, pretty old town with cobbled streets and tiny stores selling stunning handicrafts. Some of the main attractions in the historic old town are the historic buildings such as the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque and the clock at Sahat Kula — the only one that uses the lunar time which is how the muslims determine the time for their daily prayers. The bazaar is also the place to sample the distinctive traditional Bosnian coffee served in copper pots with a huge range of dessert delicacies. A bustling old town is a great place for people to smoke a shisha — if you like it — and to buy some trinkets from the shops along the lanes.
The reminders of war
One strange thing you will observe in Sarajevo is its streets littered with reminders of the war. Most of the streets are full of red rose painted on either sides of them and have at least one section which is damaged. A local explained that these damaged pieces are where the artillery landed and someone was killed on that spot. The roses have been painted in memory of the lives lost and symbolises love and peace.
A tunnel of hope
During the siege of Sarajevo for over three years, a 800 meters deep tunnel was dug by citizens from both sides of the city, which was used for passage of medicines, food and artillery. The tunnel took over three months to complete but helped the locals survive and the army to fight during the siege. Another place close to this tunnel is the Sniper Alley, which was the main street targeted by the army.