Sarajevo siege tour: Map and places to visit.
Sarajevo is a unique city, where people from the East and West use to live together in a multicultural balance. Bosnians, Croats, Serbs, Jews, Romanians and other ethnic groups live in Sarajevo. Now this is the city of the former Yugoslavia with the highest rate of expansion.
Tragically the historic multi-ethnic balance was broken in 1992, when the internal situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina rushed and conflict broke out between Serbs, Croats and Bosnians.
Sarajevo was quickly surrounded by Serbian forces of Bosnia.
It started a siege that lasted four years, the longest and most terrible of modern history.
The city still presents visible signs of that tragedy. Daytripandmap will help you to find and see the most important places of the siege. This to understand the craziness of any war and to not forget.
Sarajevo siege tour: The historic center of the city.
In the first part of the “tour” (we do not like this word for such a tragic event as the siege, but it is very used in Sarajevo) we will walk through the streets of the besieged city. In the second part we will move to the mountains of the town, where lurked the besiegers. The majority of the most emblematic places are located in the historical center, as you can see on the map below.
Vijećnica, Obala Kulina bana, Sarajevo 71000
Our journey starts at Vijećnica, National Library of Bosnia Herzegovina.
Completely destroyed in August 1992 by the bombing of the besiegers, as well as 90% of its rare books, it became one of the symbols of an absurd fratricidal war.
Very famous is the photo of the musician Vedran Smailović playing on the rubble of the library.
The reconstruction of the library was completed in 2014, and is now again a splendid example of Moorish architecture. A pride of the city.
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and “Roses of Sarajevo”, Trg fra Grge Martića 2, Sarajevo 71000.
Walking in the city center, we arrive in front of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.
On the side and in front of the cathedral you will see some red resin spots on the ground. These are the “Roses of Sarajevo”, which indicate the points where the grenades exploded. The holes created by the bombs were filled with red, color of blood, to not forget the thousands of people killed. You can find the roses all over the city.
The writer Jasminko Halilovićh wrote:
“During the siege we were divided between those who, with their lives, have planted roses, and those who survived to water them with their tears.”
Gallery 11/07/95, Fra Grge Martica, 2/III, 71000 Sarajevo.
Next to the cathedral is located the Gallery 11/07/95. This is the ” first Memorial gallery in Bosnia and Herzegovina – exhibition space aiming to preserve the memory on Srebrenica tragedy and 8372 persons who tragically lost their lives during the genocide”, as reported by the official website.
It is therefore not directly related to the siege of Sarajevo, but it is definitely an important exhibition to remember one of the worst war crimes ever done since the Second World War.
Markale Market, Mula Mustafe Bašeskije bb Sarajevo 71000.
Behind the cathedral, on Mula Mustafe Baseskije, you find Pijaca Markale, the central market of Sarajevo.
There occurred two of the most terrible massacres caused by mortar fire. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds wounded. The latest massacre happened on 28 August 1995. It was the key episode that sparked the attack of NATO on the besiegers, and the following withdrawal of Bosnian Serb troops.
In the market you can see a memorial stone for the people who lost their life.
Memorial of killed children 1992-1995 (Spomenik ubijenoj djeci Sarajeva), Maršala Tita.
If you continue on Mula Mustafe Baseskije, which name change in Maršala Tita after a while, you will arrive in front of Veliki Park.
There you will see a fountain. It is a memorial dedicated to 512 children who died during the war years 1992-1996.
In front of the memorial you can also notice other “Roses of Sarajevo”.
Koševo Stadium and Koševo cemetery, Betanija, Sarajevo 71000.
Leave behind the Memorial, and start to go up the street called Ulica Kosevo. After a km of walk you will see many tombs.
This is the Koševo cemetery, for us one of the most significant places of Sarajevo.
Under siege corpses had to be buried in the city, where it was possible. Nothing is more impressive than see stretches of white graves between the houses and the sports buildings that hosted the Winter Olympics of 1984. It was only eight years before the tragedy.
The cemetery is named precisely for the Olympic Stadium. The contrast between the joy of the sport and the sadness of innocent dead leaves you breathless.
Snipers Alley, Ulica Zmaja od Bosne, Sarajevo 71000.
Descend Ulica Kosevo and arrive to Obala Kulina Bana. Do not head to the city center but continue on Ulica Zmaja od Bosne, the main boulevard in Sarajevo.
This road is infamous as “Snipers Alley”, the avenue of snipers.
There, more than 1,000 people were killed by the blows of snipers located in nearby buildings and mountains.
On this road you will also notice many historic buildings of the war: the Holiday Inn, base of international journalists during the siege, and the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina, destroyed during the conflict.
Historijski Muzej Bosne I Hercegovine / Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zmaja od Bosne, 5, Sarajevo 71000.
The former Museum of the Revolution, now Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, does not receive state funds and suffer a remarkable state of degradation: external walls are falling apart, there is some water infiltration and the Yugoslav Era tanks are left abandoned. We speak of valuable tanks of the Second World War.
Inside, though, thanks to the passion of the museum staff, the Historijski Muzej Bosne I Hercegovine
offers really impressive works, including the permanent exhibition “Besieged Sarajevo”.
In this “virtual tour” exhibition you will see:
– Documents and articles of pre-war period and during the siege;
– Original photos;
– The first flag of Bosnia riddled with bullets;
– A collection of homemade weapons used by the besieged;
– Objects used every day;
– The “inventions” to overcome supply problems;
– Photos of the streets of Sarajevo during the war and now;
– A reconstruction of a kitchen where people used to live during the siege.
Outside you will see also a wall with many gloves on it: their message is that the museum belongs to all Bosnians and
they have to take care of the museum together.
This museum is definitely the best site to get a real idea of the tragic life during the conflict.
The entry price is only 5KM, 2.6 euro.
Ps. After such an intense day you can have a nice pause at Caffè Tito, located in the same building of the Museum.
Sarajevo siege tour: External part
If the center of the city still has the wounds caused by the siege, the mountains surrounding Sarajevo can show you where besiegers where based. Visiting these places is not complicated, you just need to get a good guide. For example, a taxi driver.
Ask the owner of your hotel or hostel to call for you a taxi driver or trustable guide to show you the main sites of the siege around the city.
Before the trip, fix the price with the taxi driver. He/she has to bring you to Mount Trebevic and to the Tunnel of Hope. What you pay will depend on the hours that you will be out, but we advise you not to give more than 20-30 Euros for 2-3 hours. For 25 euro we were accompanied by a taxi driver for more than three hours, without haste.
From what was the mount “in the yard” of Sarajevo, the Serbs of Bosnia checked perfectly the city during the siege.
To get an idea of how the attackers saw the city, just look at the beginning of our video.
It is clear how easy was for them to hit any target.
The mountain is still dangerous because it is full of mines. For this reason no one is venturing off the main roads.
On the mountain ask your guide to bring you at the abandoned station of the Police Academy, at the Serbs bunkers and, above all, at the Olympic bobsled.
Olympic bobsled, Mount Trebevic.
The Olympic bobsled was 3km long, and it was very fast. In 1984, East Germany, Switzerland and the Soviet Union won all the Olympic Medals available for this sport.
Then, after eight years, the war.
The track became the basis of Serbs snipers. Sheltered between the curves of reinforced concrete runway, they were hitting the population.
In the track you can see many holes. These holes were done by the snipers to shot.
Of course it is possible to walk in the track. A really amazing experience, where you will not meet a soul. It will make you think about the absurdity of any war.
Tunnel of Hope, Tuneli 1, 71000 Sarajevo.
Built under the runway of the airport, the tunnel connected the besieged with the aid coming from the United Nations. During the war it was long more than 800 metres. Now few metres remain, but they are very well preserved.
The museum of the Tunnel is rapidly evolving with several rooms where documentaries are screened. You will see also a small, but very interesting exhibition, with material form 1992-1996. The entry price is 5 euro.
The tunnel is located quite far from the city center. Going there on foot or by bus is not recommended because it is located in a rural area, hardly identifiable.
Don’t miss it!
Sarajevo siege tour: Other areas.
Istočno Sarajevo (East Sarajevo).
East Sarajevo is the area of the city belonging to the Republika Srpska. Indeed, to be specific, is a separate city.
Unlike Sarajevo “center”, this area has not received a lot of funds to renovate, and many buildings show considerable traces of the war.
The area is safe for walking, but we recommend you to have a look at it when you head to visit the Tunnel.
We remind you that if you come from Belgrade by bus, you will arrive at the bus station in Istočno Sarajevo, not the central one. For more detail check our post: Visit former Yugoslavia: Move between Belgrade Sarajevo Split for 160 euro.
During the Winter Olympics Games, Mount Igman hosted the Olympic jump. During the war it became a militarily strategic area. The mountain is located 25 km far from Sarajevo. Again, to go there, we suggest you to be accompanied by a guide. There you will see the abandoned trampolines, the judges’ tower and a hotel.
For specific photos of the Olympic sites abandoned we recommend you this article: