Friday, June 13, 2008

Sarajevo Travelblog - part 3: The War Tunnel, City View

The War Tunnel
That afternoon I took a tour to the War Tunnel, located under the airport. Only a small portion of the 800 meter long tunnel was open to visitors, the rest having collapsed. Constructed in 1993, the tunnel was a lifeline to the residents of Sarajevo, bringing in needed food and medical supplies, as well as ammunition. A rail track was laid, making it easier to transport supplies and wheel the injured on special gurneys. Though dark and sometimes containing water, it was a welcome escape route, through which thousands of people traveled to the safety outside of the war zone. On the bullet-riddled museum’s façade was a memorial wreath. The building across the street known as Tunnel Ulica was equally pot-marked, a testament to how dangerous it was even when the people emerged from the tunnel.

A wordless video showed footage of the siege of the city, people dodging bullets, relentless shelling from the tops of the hills, dead bodies, and other horrors. Without food, electricity, and heat for most of the residents (generators were used in crucial parts of the hospital), it was a difficult several years.

City View
After returning to Sarajevo, I took a walk up one of the steep hills, hoping to get a good overlook of the city. The curving streets were steep and narrow, made more challenging by the heat. Along the way, I passed by a cemetery – one of the many I’d see in the next few days. Homes in the area had also sustained damage during the war, a few of which were now in ruins. According to a resident I met, people received money for their destroyed homes, with some choosing to make larger fancy homes and others being more frugal and building modest ones.

The next day I went up to the Žuta Tabija Fortress, which provided great views of the city. From here I could see the Miljaca River meandering through the city, broken up with several small bridges. Minarets and terracotta roofs dominated the skyline. A few church spires, domes and synagogues were spotted, a testament to the once communal spirit of the people of Sarajevo. The City Hall was quite visible, being one of the larger buildings. Looking around the tree-covered hills, I tried to imagine shells flying towards the city, transforming the natural beauty into a source of terror.

Just below the fortress was a cemetery. It had been converted into a park in 1878, but was reactivated during the war. Taking a closer look at a few gravestones from the sidewalk, I noticed that they all were dated 1995. Pink roses adorned one grave, bleached in the midday light.

See more photos of Sarajevo on Melissa's Website

1 comment:

Shantaram said...

Enjoyed a quick read of your travelblog, look forward to your descriptions of Chennai when you get here. Just curious - are you going to be working with Sutherland, by any chance?