after our time in slovenia we wanted to venture deeper into the balkans and bosnia & herzegovina was first on the list. it made sense geographically, but was also highly recommended by slovenians and a friend who grew up here. sadly we didn't know much about the country other than the war stricken times during our childhood.
sarajevo [the capital] is only 20 years removed from a 4 year war and siege of the city that claimed more than 11,000 lives. only a fraction of the ~100,000 killed in the war - the largest massacre in europe since the holocaust. once known for their religious diversity where muslims, christians and jews worshipped amongst each other; the country was left deeply divided from the persecution and genocide. you can still feel the history and grief here, it's almost inescapable. on a more positive note, sarajevans seem to have embraced what happened here and let it fuel the creativity of the city's spirit today. there is an energetic heartbeat walking through the streets and it's highlighted through their culinary, art, cafe and artisan culture.
set in a valley through the dinaric alps at 1,700 feet, sarajevo's backdrop is beautiful and has an almost mountain town feel to it. surrounded by green hills and split by a river, the natural beauty came as a bit of a surprise to us. we were here in early november, when the first snow of the year hit, following a sunny 50 degree day... it was quite the weather shift. in the nearby mountains, only 30 minutes by car, they have a ski mountain during the winter and a bunch of hiking trails in the summer.
in 1984 they hosted the winter olympics and it was the first time the event was hosted by a communist state. the grounds have been abandoned and are now the target of street artists from the city – the murals are pretty remarkable. locals and tourists alike seem to be re-discovering this local mountain range and it's proximity to city center. with so much to offer, from a troubled and evoking history to the cobblestone streets of the old town to the surrounding outdoors, sarajevo is a beautiful and evolving city that should be experienced.
WHAT TO DO IN SARAJEVO:
HISTORY || gallery 11/07/95 mixed multimedia gallery & museum, powerful and educational [a must visit] | sarajevo roses keep a look out for these memorials throughout the city | yellow bastion cannon fortress from the 1800's, with great views over the city | vijećnica initially the largest and most representative building of the austro-hungarian period in sarajevo |
OUTSIDE OF THE CITY || sarajevo war tunnel built during the war to connect the city amidst serbian control | trebevic mountain check out the '84 Olympics Bobsled Track & pino nature hotel (15 min drive) | vukon konak rustic mountain house just 18km from the city, book ahead as we tried to late and they no longer had availability | more on where to sleep, eat & drink in our next post.