Dreaming of Sarajevo
"...and when I am not in Sarajevo
I dream of Sarajevo,
and when I am in Sarajevo
I dream of Sarajevo…"
Sarajevo may be that city you don’t think much of until you get there and then it sucks you in fully with a lot of warmth, character, kindness but also reminds you at every turn of its very brutal and hard past. From the Latin Bridge where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot, an action that started World War I, to marks on building and pavements where shells fired into the city landed. Some of these concrete scars where lives were lost, were filled with red resin and called ‘Sarajevo Roses’ as a memorial to the lives lost.
I did a tour through the city – the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Communist & Modern architecture and influences all side by side, visited the Tunnel Museum, the 1984 Winter Olympic Bob Sled Track, Yellow Fortress, The Museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide 1992-1995 and Gallery 11/07/1995, a photo exhibition on the Srebrenica massacre.
It was while visiting the Tunnel of Hope I first heard the story of Admira Ismic and Bosko Brkic, dubbed "Romeo and Juliet of Sarajevo" because of their clashing ethnic backgrounds - she was Muslim, he was Serbian - and their tragic end. The two were both 25 years old and had been dating since they were 14 years. May 1993 they tried to flee Sarajevo to find a place for their love and freedom but as they crossed the Vrbanja Bridge over the Miljacka River into Serb territory, Bosko was shot by sniper fire and died. Admira, also wounded by sniper fire, crawled to her lover, put an arm around him, and died at his side.
Here is a short documentary about the lovers:
I have not been anywhere else that took me on an emotional rollercoaster like Sarajevo. It started off gloomy and emotional but by the end of my stay, I was hopeful. For the warm and helpful people I met, for the very distinct city – not quite western, not quite eastern – with its mosaic of cultures, for a very beautiful country with vista like you won’t believe.
The earlier part of this post was written in August. I went back to Sarajevo over New Year with two of my friends and they absolutely loved it. I had an amazing time rediscovering the city in winter and my word it was just as beautiful. Look out for the blog post next week.