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Top 12 Places to visit for in-depth understanding the Siege of Sarajevo

Story of Breakup of Yugoslavia, Siege of Sarajevo and Genocide in Srebrenica

To be able to fully understand the extent of the destruction of Sarajevo during the 1425-day long Siege, we recommend that you visit these locations in Sarajevo and its wider surroundings. In-dept understanding of the consequences of the Siege of Bosnian capital, will give you a chance to future generations to live in a World of peace.

1. Sarajevo War Tunnel

The Sarajevo War Tunnel was dug in July 1993, and during the siege it was the only hope for the survival of close to 300,000 citizens of the city of Sarajevo.

It was the longest siege in modern history that lasted 1425 days, which resulted in over 11,500 killed citizens of Sarajevo.

The Sarajevo War Tunnel, codenamed “Object D-B”, was 800m long and was used to transport weapons into the besieged city. Without the Tunnel, Sarajevo and its citizens would never make it through the Siege.

Sarajevo War Tunnel was dug in July 1993 and used to be main supply route to Sarajevo during the Siege

Over a thousand grenades fell on the city every day. On July 22, 1993, UNPROFOR forces, which, among other things, were in charge of collecting statistical data, managed to count 3,777 grenades fired at the city of Sarajevo.

Today, the war tunnel is one of the most important monuments of the siege of Sarajevo and offers an excellent museum display. We definitely recommend visiting it as a part of our Sarajevo Siege Half Day Tour.

2. History Museum

Originally founded in 1945 as the Museum of National Liberation of Sarajevo, but in 1994, during the Siege of Sarajevo due to the expansion of the exhibition, it changed its name to the Historical Museum.

Today as part of the permanent exhibition “Surrounded Sarajevo”, it offers an excellent insight into the story of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the beginning of the Siege of Sarajevo and the Aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1990s.

In addition, during the siege of Sarajevo, the museum was on the demarcation line and on the route of the famous Sniper Alley. Today, visiting this museum is an excellent insight into the real story of the Siege of Sarajevo and the dangers of moving along Sniper Alley.

Historical Museum of BiH

A separate area of research and presentation is the period of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1990 to the present, with an impressive collection of besieged Sarajevo. Through research and collection, a fund of about 400,000 museum objects, documents and works of art has been created.

3. Olympic Bobsled

The Olympic Bob Track on Trebević mountain above Sarajevo was built for the 1984 Winter Olympics. At that time, it was the fastest, most attractive and the southernmost bobsled track in the world.

During the siege of Sarajevo, unfortunately Bobsled Track was on the line of demarcation between the defenders of Sarajevo and the Serbian army and was totally destroyed. Its thick concrete walls have been used as a fortification grounds for Army of Republic of Srpska.

Today, it serves as a memorabilia of the destruction of Sarajevo in the 1990s and is an oasis for street art graffiti artists.

A visit to the bobsled track is possible with the option of using the Sarajevo cable car or one of the local Sarajevo Siege tours that cover this part of the city. Be sure to visit.

reasons to visit sarajevo

The Sarajevo Bobsled is one of 17 in the world, and in addition to being the steepest and fastest, the Sarajevo Bobsled was considered one of the safest in the world. The start was at 1,108 meters above sea level, the finish line was at 982 meters.

4. Jewish Cemetery

Heavily considered as the second largest Jewish sacral complex in Europe, this century-old Jewish cemetery is one of the most important indicators of Sarajevo’s multiculturalism and is one of the most important monuments in Europe.

After the expulsion of Jews from Spain and their settlement of the Balkan Peninsula in the 16th century, Sarajevo was one of the epicenters of the free life of Sephardic Jews. 

Since Sarajevo did not know the term ghetto, because Jews in Sarajevo lived in common settlements of the city, in the middle of the 16th century there was a need for a Jewish cemetery. 

On the hill above Sarajevo, it was founded and actively used until the middle of the 20th century, when unfortunately the number of Jews dropped dramatically after the Second World War.

During the siege of Sarajevo, the Jewish cemetery was a dividing line and suffered significant damage as a result. Sniper fire from the cemetery itself often took lives in Sarajevo.

Jewish Cemetery Sarajevo

Once a minefield, Jewish cemetery today it is an excellent location for a detailed understanding of the siege of Sarajevo and city life during the constant sniper fire from the position of the Serbian forces.

5. Koševo and Lav Cemetery

The Sarajevo Lav (eng. lion) Cemetery was named after a huge lion figure installed in 1917, which is located in the heart of the cemetery. Originally, members of the Austro-Hungarian army were buried in the cemetery, and it also served as a Jewish Ashkenazi cemetery. It was closed in 1958.

In the most difficult moments in the history of Sarajevo, from April 1992 to December 1995, when burials could not be held at the central city cemetery Bare, due to direct exposure to the aggressor’s artillery fire, the Lav cemetery was reactivated. In that period, 3,880 people were buried.

It is especially significant because members of different denominations were buried next to each other. The graves of Sarajevo’s Romeo and Juliet, and the world-famous photographer Kurt Schork are located in this cemetery.

Immediately across the street is the Sarajevo Cemetery Koševo. This cemetery was in fact part of the football field of the Koševo Stadium Olympic Complex and was given the purpose of the cemetery during the Siege because it was located near the morgue of the Koševo Central City Hospital, and was a convenient place for the rapid burial of many Sarajevans.

To understand all the horrors of the war, be sure to visit these locations and see the age of people and children killed, and raise your voice to make sure that what happened in Sarajevo during the 1990s never happens again.

Vedran Smalovic, a cellist, playing a requiem for the for the victims of Siege of Sarajevo at Lav Cemetery

Vedran Smailović, a cellist, playing a requiem for the for the victims of Siege of Sarajevo at Lav Cemetery.

6. War Childhood Museum

Opened in 2017, the winner of the Council of Europe Museum Award, the Museum of War Childhood is one of the most important locations to visit during your visit to Sarajevo.

Derived from a book of short memories of growing up in the war, this museum is today the world’s most important institution dealing with the experiences of growing up in the war.

The museum is absolutely adapted to all ages and we warmly recommend a visit.

War Childhood Museum

War Childhood Museum: a briliant reminder that every child deserves nothing less than safe haven and war clean memories.

7. Sarajevo Sniper Alley

Although today, even during the 1990s, there was no formal street in Sarajevo called Sniper Alley, it is more than clear to the citizens of Sarajevo which part of the city it is.

Most of today’s Zmaja od Bosne street as the head of Sarajevo Boulevard, ie. the part of the city that stretches along the banks of the Miljacka river from Sarajevo Airport and industrial zones to the city center and the old part of Baščaršija, was a constant target of Serbian snipers who acted on all citizens of Sarajevo, regardless of gender and age.

Skyscrapers and hills on the left side of the Miljacka river, especially in the regions of Hrasno and Grbavica, were one of the biggest threats of sniping for the citizens of Sarajevo. 

We definitely recommend a tour of the city regions of Marindvor, Skenderija, Grbavica and Hrasno, where you can still see clear traces of the siege of Sarajevo.

reasons to visit sarajevo

Hotel Holiday Inn was the only officially working hotel in Sarajevo during the Siege. Most of the foreign photojournalists who came and stayed in Sarajevo slept in this hotel, relatively sheltered from Serbian fire and shelling. But as soon as you walk out of the hotel and think of walking down Sniper Alley, your life is in danger.

8. Grbavica

The Grbavica settlement is one of the most notorious parts of Sarajevo. During the Siege, it was an occupied part of the city where Serb paramilitaries operated and committed numerous crimes, especially during 1992.

One of the most famous names is “Monster from Grbavica”, Veselin Vlahovic Batko, a local who was sentenced to 45 years in prison. He was one of the leaders of the massacres and rapes of the non-Serb population of Grbavica.

Although the settlement of Grbavica after the post-war reparations no longer shows significant consequences of the war, getting to know and talking to locals offers an insight into the real state of life during the Siege of Sarajevo.

Take the opportunity and visit the Grbavica Stadium, the temple of the Bosnian football team FK. Željezničar. Grbavica Stadium was burned and destroyed during the Siege of Sarajevo, and after the war it was reconstructed and today it offers one of the best football atmospheres in the region.

In this photo taken on April 22, 1996 a young boy plays on a tank in the Sarajevo neighbourhood of Grbavica.

In this photo taken on April 22, 1996 a young boy plays on a tank in the Sarajevo neighbourhood of Grbavica. (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

9. Srebrenica Gallery

Although the Srebrenica Genocide is an event which geographically happened 2-hour drive from Sarajevo, this unfortunate event is very much related to the story of the Siege of Sarajevo and Agression on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

To better understand the causes and consequences of the Srebrenica Genocide, it is best to visit the Srebrenica Memorial Center yourself. In case you do not have time to dedicate an entire day to this excursion, then a visit to the Srebrenica Gallery in Sarajevo is a great alternative.

To visit the Gallery, spare at least 1.30 to 2 hours for a full experience of understanding the nature of the Genocide.

Gallery 11/07/95

The Gallery 11/07/95 is a memorial art gallery dedicated to preserving the memory of the Srebrenica genocide. The hybrid concept of gallery-museum, through a wide range of multimedia content offers documentary and artistic interpretation of the events that took place in this Srebrenica during July 1995.

10. Igman Ski Jumps

War is evil. Proof of that is the post-war state of many Olympic arenas in the wider and closer vicinity of Sarajevo.

The Igman Olympic Ski Jumps, K70 and K90 were the pride of the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. Just after the games, Mount Igman found itself in a completely different narrative. During the siege of Sarajevo, Mount Igman was the most important link between the occupied city and the remnants of the free territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the 90’s being in Sarajevo and being connected to free territory meant that you may not be dead and that there is hope for a better tomorrow.

During 1993, units of the Army of the Republika Srpska attacked the positions of the defense of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and during these actions completely destroyed the ski jumps, which have not been reconstructed until today (2022).

A visit to these ski jumps and the beautiful Igman Mountain will be an unforgettable experience.

Ski Jumps at Igman Olympic Mountain - Bosnia and Herzegovina

In addition to the 1990s, historical pages of freedom were written on Mount Igman during World War II. Then, in 1942, one of the most important partisan operations of the People’s Liberation Battle in the Second World War took place on Igman, the famous Igman March.

11. Children Memorial

Between 11,500 and 14,300 citizens of the city were killed during the siege of Sarajevo. Sarajevo was and remains a multicultural city, and since grenades, bombs and bullets do not differentiate between people, the victims of this madness were citizens of various denominations and ages.

After the war, the first post-war estimates determined that 1,601 children were killed in Sarajevo.

The monument consists of a ring made of bronze in the middle of which are two glass sculptures 5 and 3 meters high. Footprints of some of the killed children are imprinted on a bronze ring with a diameter of 10 and a height of 0.7 meters, made of shell casings and other ammunition fired at Sarajevo.

The ring symbolically represents the Siege ring that has kept Sarajevo under siege for almost four years.

Sarajevo Children Memorial - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Glass sculptures inside the ring, of different heights, separated but still with their tops leaning against each other, symbolize a mother who desperately wants to protect her child.

12. Špicasta Stijena

Špicasta Stijena is one of the most infamous locations from which sniper fire of the Army of the Republika Srpska used to target Sarajevo and its inhabitants. It offers fantastic views of the city and unfortunately during the Siege gave an ideal advantage to the enemy.

During the Siege, the rock itself and the old Austro-Hungarian tower with its gunholes was used by the Army of the Republika Srpska as a sniper’s nest.

Today, within the old Austro-Hungarian tower, there is a museum of the 105th Motorized Brigade of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Museum includes a restaurant and a summer garden, which provide a true pleasure in a completely natural atmosphere with a beautiful view of the city of Sarajevo from this point.

Memorial to Bosnian Army soldiers at Špicasta Stijena

Memorial to fallen Bosnian soldiers who dies in an attempt to unblock Sarajevo.

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