Instawalk: First Impressions of Sarajevo

normally i like to explore a city on my own, taking my own sweet time, but since i’m only in Sarajevo (and Bosnia and Herzegovina in general) for two days, i signed up for a free walking tour to help me make the most of my time (unlike other ones where you just show up, this one requires that you reserve via email).

i arrived at my hotel under cover of darkness (heh) last night, and while i knew it was in the Old Town, i had no idea just how central it was until this tour. either that, or i didn’t realize how compact Sarajevo is. i have a feeling both are true, but in either case, it’s really quite lovely, with distinct Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman sections. you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Vienna or Istanbul in parts! also, the history! from centuries ago (Turkish market) to early last century (the event that precipitated World War I) to late last century (the Siege during the Bosnian War).

A panorama taken from atop a hillside surrounding the town, as part of a different tour (highly recommended) — i spent my afternoon learning about the Siege and went to the Tunnel as well as several abandoned buildings in the hills for views over the city, as this was where the Serbs set up their artillery ring, and the abandoned bobsled track (post to come).

sidebar: prepwork i read about the documentary The Death of Yugoslavia a couple days ago, before heading out here, and watched it on the plane (not on the final leg into Sarajevo, though, i do have some sense of decency!). i highly recommend it for anyone, like me, who was clueless about the violent breakup of Yugoslavia. it’s six episodes of 50 minutes each but well worth it, even though it will take you a lot longer than five hours to process. it’s currently available on YouTube.

Eternal flame for victims of WW2 and winning over fascism. This was a hotel during the Austro-Hungarian empire and is now an administration building.

The central market, where during the Siege, almost 70 people were massacred in a mortar explosion 20 years ago.

A Sarajevo Rose — mortar explosion hole(s) filled with red epoxy where someone has died. The guide estimated there were at least 100 around the city.

A shopping mall that was not rebuilt after the war

The Catholic cathedral with a 3-month old statue of JP2.

The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral

The Miljacka River with the Latin Bridge in the distance. Franz Ferdinand was assassinated across the street from the left end of the bridge.

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