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  • Writer's pictureKaren O.

A Rose from Concrete

A Rose from concrete even as they rose from the concrete (and the ashes).

“What doesn’t kill you definitely makes you stronger”.

Growing up I heard a lot of report on CNN of the Bosnian war and I couldn’t help but wonder what war entailed and how people fared in such conditions.

The city of Sarajevo was under siege for 3.5 years from 1992 – 1995 and repeatedly bombed by enemy forces, with the worst of it hitting the city on 22nd July 1993 where 3,777 shells hit the city in one day, an estimated one shell every 20 seconds.

As I arrive in Sarajevo, these thoughts go through my mind, moreso as I walk on the streets of this paved city and watch its people. I cannot relate their past with the cheerful, welcoming experience I received from the local taxi driver and the hotel staff.

Wow, how they have been through so much, yet are so warm, pleasant to tourists and outgoing, I cannot help but noticed then It hit me!!! It really hit me people, the saying “it is not what happens to you that matters but how you react to it”.

I do not have a long stay here so I quickly arrange for some tours to enjoy the history, culture and cuisine.

My first outing is a 3-hours private tour to explore the war history of the Sarajevo siege and learn about the 3.5 years the city and its people suffered under the constant threats of bombs and fire power.

An incredibly emotional tour listening to the story told by my tour guide who is local and also experienced the war. The monuments here are a reminder of a horrible time in their history and of what should never happen again.

The Tunnel of hope was built under the runway of the Sarajevo airport to connect the besieged Sarajevo with the rest of the Bosnian territory. The underground tunnel is approximately 800 meters long, with a height of 1.6 meters and a width of 1 meter. On average the tunnel was crossed by 4,000 people a day and it took around 2 hours. Eventually that tunnel became a symbol of hope as it conveyed millions of people to what was considered safety, and away from the ongoing siege.

You can read more on the tunnel and the history here.

The Sarajevo rose now sits as a memorial symbol from the longest siege in modern warfare. These memorials are scattered through out the city to mark the spots hit by explosive mortars which led to several casualties. These craters left by explosive mortars were filled with red resin as a remembrance of those lost to deaths and injuries caused by those unpleasant 3.5 years.

I am so emotional and very hungry after this tour and what’s better than the local cuisine in Bosnia.

A popular traditional Bosnian food is the Ćevapčići and of course any journey isn’t complete without a taste of the local cuisine. The Ćevapčići is made from minced grilled meat (the quality of the meat matters a lot) with excellent spices, served on delicious warm “Somun” bread with sides of cream, onion and yogurt. I cannot deny, it is absolutely tasty and the texture of the meat along with the spices and the warm bread is irresistible.

What’s a Bosnian meal without a local dessert – Dezert to boost your mood…

The Tulumba – also considered a Turkish delight from the Ottoman times – is a really sweet treat (I mean really sugary even for me who is a sweetheart tooth) and for its sweetness the locals prefer it with the Bosanska Kafa (Bosnian Coffee) without sugar. Since I’m not a fan of coffee and even though the Bosnians LOVE their coffee, I opt for the Kulga Sladoleda – Scoops of ice cream.

I spend the next part of my adventure on a free walking tour of the city here which I found excellent for something with no cost and it gives you an amazing insight of the city, the old town and historical landmarks.

The walking tour includes:

  1. Old Orthodox Church

  2. Baščaršija Square – Sebilj Foutain

  1. Oldest Street in Sarajevo called Kazandžiluk.

  1. Sarajevo City Hall

  1. Caravan Saray – Morića Han, a roadside inn originally built in 1551.

  2. Gazi Husrev-bey’s Mosque and Clock Tower

Meeting of Cultures Spot is the spot where two dominant cultures that once shaped Sarajevo merge. It is a place that tells you this is a city that connects East and West – not only as different halves of the world, but also culturally – with the East considered Ottoman and Islamic and the West seen as Austro-Hungarian and Christian, with the obvious being in the city’s architecture.

The location of the marker, “Sarajevo – Meeting-place of Cultures”, is unique in that it is right where these two cultural influences clearly meet and it seems to be the very spot in town where, with one step, you can cross from one culture to another.

  1. Jewish Synagogue

  2. Cathedral of Sacred Jesus’ Heart

Assassination Spot of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sofia – Latin bridge

An interesting tale is history was made here on this bridge in 1914.

There are a lot of stalls and bazaars scattered around the old town where you can buy souvenirs and other merchandise. Not a great idea in the winter months but there are numerous ice cream stands in old town Sarajevo and I never got to understand why that many.

You can also visit the Yellow Fortress also called Zuta Tabija. There you can get an aerial view of Sarajevo city.

The Emperor‘s mosque is also a great tourist attraction and listed as one of the things to do in Sarajevo according to google.

There’s definitely a lot you can see and enjoy in Sarajevo as a tourist either on a short stay or on a longer trip. It’s also not an expensive city and transport is quite efficient with buses and taxis.

Here are 2 important notes before I leave you…

1. If you have time, please visit the city of Mostar which is 2 hours from Sarajevo. I haven’t been there but everyone I’ve met says it’s definitely a must see.

2. The photo below 😁😁

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