Free Sarajevo War Tour by BBC

The following are what I consider the high points of the Sarajevo Mission Impossible tour, both visually and historically, by Zijad Jusufovic. I was in Sarajevo when asked to attend this tour and agreed to be filmed.

Baseskiya (Pigeon Square)

1 Baseskiya (Pigeon Square), our starting point, is in the heart of the old-town shopping district and at the foot of the old eastern suburbs.

The 1984 Winter Olympic

2 The 1984 Winter Olympics billboard, located at the train station, is a snapshot of an innocent past. Its faded paint and bullet scared facade clearly shows how the cities’ fortunes changed in 1984.

Sarajevo City Library

3 The city library, which is now abandoned. It once contained millions of books, including numerous priceless ancients works. All but one of these priceless books disappeared during the siege.

Monument to Multicultural Harmony

4 The monument to multicultural harmony is a simple work that sits within easy reach of numerous Muslim mosques and Orthodox and Catholic churches. Observing the work, I wondered if the man inside the framed sphere was trying to break out or bring the sides of the ring together.

Sarajevo Eternal Flame

5 Just down the street from the monument, at the end of Marshall Tito Street, is located the Eternal Flame (fire in a tire to the locals). Ironically, this monument was built in 1945 to commemorate the citizens of Sarajevo who died in WWII.

The Farmer’s Market Shelling

6 The Farmer’s Market is a tiny market area enclosed by tall buildings. It was believed that the square was safe from shells until a 122 mm direct hit killed 68 and wounded 196 civilians. There are numerous other public locations throughout the city with similar grim tales. Many are marked simply with a dull red mixture that fills the shell holes and scared pavement. Informal markets were favored targets during the siege since people had to meet to buy and trade for food.

Bridge Dilberovic & Sucic Plaque

7 The bridge Dilberovic & Sucic holds a small plaque to commemorate the first two victims of the war in Bosnia. These two young women were attending a rally when shot and killed by a Serbian sniper. The sniper shots set the war in motion, which is ironic given Sarajevo’s historical place in war history.

Parliament Building,

8 The Parliament building, located next to the Land Museum. The twenty-plus floor Parliament building remains a shelled damaged and charred shell. Large caliber shell holes and scars pierce the concrete structure on all sides and on all floors. It casts an ire black shadow that provokes solemnity in the observer.

Dilapidated Skyline

9 Just up the street from the Parliament buildings are the remains of a devastated neighborhood that was home to door-to-door fighting. The skyline of the shelled and dilapidated buildings resembles historical WWII photos of European bombed cities. Informally, the area is known as Hiroshima.

Sarajevo Sniper Ally

10 Approximately five km outside of the town center we drove down a large open boulevard with very damaged apartment blocks on opposite sides of the street. The area was known as Sniper Ally due to all the sniper activity. Citizens had to run down this street, only 50 meters from Serbian controlled buildings, to reach the safety of a tunnel that supplied the entire city.

BiH Serbian Republic

11 Continuing we turned towards the airport and crossed into the BiH Serbian Republic controlled portion of Sarajevo. Neighborhoods just as run down as the rest, but a little bit more subdued.

Secret Supply Tunnel

12 We proceeded to a small cluster of farmhouses, down a dirt road, to a small house that marked the entrance of the supply tunnel. The tunnel reached the safety of the UN controlled airport and the outside world during the siege. We entered the tunnel and crouched-walked part of the way down the original 760 meters to emerge in a field next to the airport runway.

Olympic Stadium

13 We then visited the rebuilt Olympic stadium and still war-torn and abandoned Zetra Olympic Hall. The entire area next to the stadium, once the home of the practice facilities, is now a graveyard for victims the Sarajevo conflict. During the four-year siege victims were buried wherever vacant land could be had. As a result white gravestones are always in view, no mater in which direction one looks.

Zajedno Memorial Cemetery

14 Returning to the town center, and walking up the road from Pigeon Square is located the Zajedno Memorial Cemetery (Together Cemetery), which holds the remains of Muslims who fought and died resisting the Ottoman invaders two hundred years ago and the remains of Muslim soldiers who died defending the city during the siege. A compliment of four NATO armed soldiers stand stiffly on guard at this cemetery to this day.

Ancient Walled City of Hodidjed

15 The Zajedno cemetery stands at the foot of arched gates and walls that were part of the ancient walled city of Hodidjed. Wandering in a generally up direction along these twisting streets one reaches the remains of the ancient fortress. This is an ideal location for taking photos of the city and viewing the precarious valley confinement of the population.

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