Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
43° 50' N 18° 22' E
Apr 06, 2008 17:22
Distance 288km

Text written in: English

Give Peace a Chance

Sarejevo. Sunday, April 6th.

Took an overnight train to Sarajevo and got in at 6.30 AM. Not surprisingly, everything was closed and the weather was misty. Got a hotel in the centre of the old part of the city, compliments of Lonely Planet.

By 8 AM, I was walking about. Very easy to figure out what to do, as this city of about 750,000 is sandwiched between two small mountains, and it is in the valley.

Just headed up the nearest mountain side and hiked to the top. This is the Muslim part of the city and it has a very different feel from Zagreb and other cities I have visited, as it is also very poor. What really hits you are the graveyards. They are everywhere and surround the city. From 1992 to 1995, 10,500 Muslims from Sarajevo were killed and 50,000 were injured. In the Muslim part of the city, there are bullet marks on most buildings. Even the small inner courtyard behind the hotel I was staying in had pot marks from bullets.

When I got to the top I had a great view of the city and surrounding hillsides.

Just then, a church bell started to ring, so I rushed down and went to RC Mass in an RC church in the Muslim part of the city. Very surreal, but it felt very right. Did not understand a word that was said so I improvised. After mass, the clouds and mist lifted and I continued my walking about.

Sarajevo is famous for at least two events. The first was on June 28th, 1914. On that day, the Archduke of the Austrian Empire and his wife were assassinated on one of the many bridges that cross over a small river that runs thru the city. Their car was crossing the Latin Bridge and a Serbian man shot them from the corner.

This incident caused Austria to declare war on Serbia. French and Russia came to the Serbs defence. At this point, the Germans jumped in to assist the Austrians and the next thing you know you have WWI. In 1984, Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics. Eight years later, it was in the midst of a serious civil war.

My, how times change.

After mass, I climbed another hill on the other side of the city. More grave yards, and most of the deaths were dated between 1992 and 1997. Very affecting. You see many Muslims visiting the cemeteries, so this is a very near and dear memory. Walked across the Muslim part of the city to where the border with the Serbian section starts. This was called Sniper's Alley. Here the bullet holes and burned out buildings were very prevalant. What struck you were the odd juxtapositions - a building that had several bullet marks in it was now selling the latest in high fashion or stereos, or whatever.

The residents of Sarajevo have a saying that every 50 years, the city goes to war and destroys itself. Hopefully this is over. There is peace now in Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovinia. There are 10 provincial or state governments, two umbrella governments that combine the Serbian states and the Croatians/Muslims, plus a country government. But there are only 3.85 million people in the country.

As John Lennon said so correctly, "Give Peace a Chance."

Photos / videos of "Give Peace a Chance":

View looking down on Sarajevo from near the top of the hill in the Muslim part of the city. Panoramic view.  In the early morning, like 8 AM, it was still misty.  It cleared up in the afternoon.  In the afternoon, took photos from the citadel in the middle of this photo. A Christian church in the Muslim part of the old city. Bullet holes.  On almost every building in the old part of the city there are bullet holes.  Really drives home the point that 15 years ago there was a very brutal civil war going on here. Another Christian church in the Muslim part of the city. The old part of the city is primarily Muslim.  Like Turkey, there were mosques and minarets everywhere. Cemeteries.  All around Sarajevo there are graveyards.  Over 10,000 Muslims were murdered by the Serbians and 50,000 people injured between 1992 and 1995, in Sarajevo alone. A bombed out house along Sniper Avenue.  Right next to it you can see new developments.  Sniper Avenue was a no-man's strip of land between the Muslim and Serbian parts of the city.  All along this strip the houses have extensive bullet holes. Men playing chess.  Nice to see peace happening.  Chess or sports should be used to settle ethnic scores, rather than guns. The Rose of Sarajevo.  In the old part of the city, some of the holes in the road from bomb blasts have been filled in with red cement to symbolize blood and hope.  Looking down one of the many alleys in the old part of Sarajevo. Interior of an Eastern Orthodox Church.  In Bosnia there are Muslims, Jews, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians.  These differences give rise to some of the ethnic challenges in the area. Grave marker.  The birth year of the deceased is the same year I was born, really hits home. More cemeteries. Looking towards the hilltop I climbed this morning, weather much improved. Graffiti.  It is everywhere in Eastern Europe. Looking down on the river which cuts thru Sarejevo. The fourth bridge is the one on which Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophia were assassinated in June of 1914 which ultimately resulted in World War 1. And more graveyards. Actual site of the assassination. Gavrilo Princip was standing at the corner by the bridge, & as the Archduke's Ferdinand's car approached the bridge, Princip killed the Archduke & his wife.  The Archduke was number two in line to assume the throne.  This was the second assassination attempt. Latin Bridge where Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in June, 1914. This assassination led to the start of WWI, as Austria attacked Serbia. Russia then stepped in to help Serbia, and before you know it everyone was involved, even Canada.