Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sarajevo, Bosnia

I hadn't been planning on going to Sarajevo while I was in the Balkans, but at the last minute I decided to swing down for a visit. I'm really glad I did. I would have liked to have had a bit more time there--there were some other places in Bosnia that I would have liked to see--but I guess that will have to wait for next time.

The really cool thing about Sarajevo was that it was very different from the rest of Eastern Europe (with the exception of Skopje, Macedonia... but Sarajevo was much nicer. Which is really bad for Skopje, if a city that was under siege a little over ten years ago is much nicer than a city which wasn't...)

I imagine that everyone remembers that there was some sort of crazyness that went down in Bosnia in the 1990s. I also imagine that most everyone was pretty confused about what actually happened and why it was happening. I'd tell you, but I only have a slightly less murky understanding of it all than I did before I went over there. Basically, Sarajevo was under siege for four years by the Bosnian Serb Army. Although this was over ten years ago, the city still bears that scars of the siege. Buildings are pock-marked with holes made by shells, the streets have indentations of exploded shells known as Sarajevo roses, and the hills surrounding Sarajevo are still filled with land mines.

This is the Turkish Quarter of Sarajevo. In this small quarter, there are mosques, a synagogue, and both catholic and orthodox churches. According to my guide book, the only other place in the world where so many religious buildings exist in such close proximity is Jerusalem.

During the siege, the people of Sarajevo built an 800 meter tunnel under the NATO-controlled airport to smuggle guns and food into the city. This is the building where the tunnel ended outside of the city.

I went on a tour as part of my trip to Sarajevo. Our guide, who was 12 when the siege started and who had stayed in Sarajevo for the length of it, took us up to where the Winter Olympics had been held less than ten years before the siege. This mountain, which had housed the headquarters for the Olympics, also housed the command center of the Bosnian Serb Army. As you can see, Sarajevo is set in a valley. The Serbian tanks were stationed on the mountains surrounding the city, so they could see and fire upon anything in the entire city.

As I was walking through the city, I saw this random helicopter. It was in a park, next to two burnt-out tanks. There was no fence around it, and no plaque saying what it was or why it was there. Just left over from the war, I suppose.


At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Impressive stuff.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Jjirikki said...

Hey! How are you? I messed up my blogspot and have never had a chance to go back an fix it. I have been trying to figure out how to get in touch with you. I found the link to this in an old email.

So I guess I'm just saying Hi!
--Amy B.

At 12:18 AM, Blogger STAG said...

I posted something about that little unpleasantness on my blog just for you.....


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