Stories of Sarajevo & Mostar

Baščaršija is the heart of old Sarajevo.

Predominately Muslim with a real Turkish feel. I was very tempted by the Turkish rugs and cotton bathrobes. Again🙄

The original Sebilj (fountain). There was another gifted to Novi Pazar.

Gazi Hustev-beg Mosque (1531)

Music Pavilion at Mejdan

Latin Bridge near where Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, triggering WWI.

Seat at the end of the bridge.

Tašlihan is one of the oldest inns or caravansarai (1543).

On the ground floor there were storerooms and stables for 70 horses.

Upstairs there were 30 rooms for the passengers.

During the reconstruction of Hotel Europe, the hotel was active in its preservation.

Hotel Europe was built in 1882 during the 40-year Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Hercegovina.

It was the first hotel of its kind.

It’s also on the dividing line between East and West Sarajevo. East is Bosnian Serb territory.

The narrow old street starts to widen out to a regular main thoroughfare.

At this corner there is the Eternal Flame, a memorial site honouring the victims of WWII.

The main streets through Sarajevo run parallel to the river, so are flat.

But you don’t have to go far to start climbing the hills on either side.

This was going up to the 1903 Villa Mandić where the Olympic Museum is housed.

Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics.

But then they were challenged by events they couldn’t control.

It’s the modern stories of Sarajevo and Mostar that are the most emotional. These happened in my adult lifetime.

Yugoslavia was formed after WWI. It brought together six ethnic groups. They spoke dialects of a common language, but had different histories, beliefs, and identities.

After WWII, Yugoslavia was subdivided along ethnic lines into six republics and forcibly held together by Tito under communist rule. But when Tito died and communism fell, those republics pulled apart.

In 1991 Slovenia and Croatia each declared independence from Yugoslavia with brief conflict. In 1992 Macedonia left with little conflict.

But when Bosnia and Hercegovina tried to leave, the Bosnian Serbs wanted to stay with what was left of the Yugoslav Federation. That lead to three years of war from 1992 to 1995.

Years ago I had read a book called ‘The Cellist of Sarajevo’ by Stephen Galloway. I read it again while I was there, and walked the streets he described, and felt very moved by the feelings of his characters.

It was fiction based on the real-life siege of Sarajevo. For almost four years, Bosnian Serbs surrounded Sarajevo.

Electrical and water services were cut off. The only link to the outside was a small tunnel by the airport. When food could get in, it was very highly priced.

They bombed the city while snipers would shot at citizens just trying to get water or food. They estimate 14,000 died.

It wasn’t just Sarajevo. The Bosniak Muslim-majority town of Srebrenica had been under attack by the Bosnian Serb forces for almost a year before the town was declared a ‘safe area’ by the UN in April 1993.

Thousands of Bosniak Muslims from nearby villages took refuge there too. They estimate 45,000 were there when the Bosnian Serbs attacked on July 11, 1995.

The lightly armed 400 Dutch UN peacekeepers were inadequate. It was a grievous error of the UN to not provide better protection.

The goal of the Serbia backed forces was to eliminate the Muslim population to create a ‘great Serbia’.

8372 Muslim men and boys were separated from the women, and massacred over the next three days.

Mass graves in nearby fields, as well as secondary and tertiary graves, are still being processed using DNA.

The women who were separated were part of the estimated 20,000-50,000 women subjected to sexual violence during the war.

Convictions of genocide were ruled by The Hague.

Two museums I went to had powerful photographs and video. This was only twenty-some years ago so technology was there.

Photographers just needed to set up where people where people had to cross vulnerable streets.

You can’t watch video of people getting shot by snipers without feeling intense emotions.

Galerija 11/07/95

Sarajevo City Hall is a beautiful triangular neo-Moorish Austria-Hungarian-era building (1896).

In 1949 the building became the National Library.

It was heavily damaged but was restored and opened again in 2014.

Grand staircase to the second floor.

A trolley line follows along the river, then loops around City Hall and back on a parallel street.

Old trolleys parked in front of the Twist Tower by the rail and bus stations.

Sacred Heart Cathedral

City Market Markdale (1895)

Covered green market just behind

Lovely little quiet oasis for lunch

I had the mixed Bosnian specialties with chicken stew, klepe (stuffed pasta), sarma (rice and meat stuffed tomato/pepper/grape leaf), creamed spinach, mashed potato and meatballs. Yum!

Veal and pepper stew with mashed potatoes and sarma

Bosanski Lonac (Bosnian Pot) with veal and vegetables in a delicious broth. Points lost for presentation but I took it as takeaway for my dinner.

More cevapi but a solid choice for €3

It’s also very good with grilled boneless chicken thigh! And even better with more salad.

And I found I like the mini burek for their crispness

An egg-sized serving of lemon gelato and a great shaded spot to rest and people watch as long as you want – for 2 marks (€1)

Then off to Mostar. All the water is such a gorgeous aquamarine.

The main event in Mostar is the Stari Most (Old Bridge)

Built in 1566, it was destroyed on November 9, 1993 by the Bosnian Croatians.

It was rebuilt in the original manner using stone quarried from the same site, and was completed in 2004.

Karadjozbey Mosque (1557)

My apartment is on the lower level, with a great balcony over the river.

Another deserted building I have no idea about. But I liked the panels.

Very modern mall downtown that I found why looking for a money exchange.

I was so tempted to check out the grocery store. But I’m leaving tomorrow and can’t carry it with me!

I kept seeing these logos around town.

In 1981 the local football (soccer) team won the Yugoslav Cup so they renamed their team the ‘Red Army’.

I’m just packing up for a five-hour bus to Split, Croatia.

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