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One of the most fascinating cities I’ve visited is Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarajevo was under siege from 1992 to 1996; for 44 months, the city suffered terribly as it was bombarded by artillery and fired upon by snipers from the hills surrounding the valley. Half of the city’s population fled as the city was blockaded, severing access to food, utilities, and communication. Over 11,000 people were killed, and 50,000 were injured. Some twenty years later, the city has been mostly rebuilt on the surface, but some brokenness remains, both physically and psychologically.

Sarajevo today - remnants of brokenness

Sarajevo today – remnants of brokenness

Sarajevo War Tunnel entrance pockmarked by mortar shells

Sarajevo War Tunnel entrance pockmarked by mortar shells

The once peacefully multi-ethnic city was badly broken, and though the city’s public face has been largely repaired, the underlying fragmentation is not fully mended. Muslims, Croats, and Serbs (and smaller groups such as the Jewish and Roma populations) live largely separate lives, and some experts believe many of the fundamental causes of the conflict still exist.

“Sarajevo roses” – these mortar shell explosion marks were filled with red resin to commemorate fatalities in these spots; today they are a haunting reminder of the city’s wounds

“Sarajevo roses” – these mortar shell explosion marks were filled with red resin to commemorate fatalities in these spots; today they are a haunting reminder of the city’s wounds

On a more positive note, Sarajevo is a lovely city to visit. Its setting is beautiful, the food and beer are quite tasty, there are many compelling historical sites predating the Bosnian War (among them, an old Ottoman cemetery and Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination spot), and the people are friendly and eager to share their history.

Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

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