Saturday, 18 October 2014

Sarajevo. bosnian roadtrip #4

I am afraid this is gonna be a long post. Sarajevo is not an easy place to describe, so I'd better rely on some pictures to help me share the feelings inspired by the city.

Sarajevo skyline | nikon em + ilford 125 

I primarily intended to talk about our experience in Sarajevo without mentioning the war, or bringing it up as little as I could, to not let this dark shadow overcast the charm and the rising of a city that is still struggling with the past, still finding a new tune to dance.

dogs | nikon em + ilford 125 
the truth is to not mention the war is impossible, cause it is the very first thing I thought about, when we arrived. I'd probably sound naive, but I had never seen houses, buildings, walls, riddled by bullets before. they made me shiver, I cannot pretend to not have seen them, or to find them normal. I'm not a woman of the world, apparently.

a polkadot tram | nikon em + ilford 125 
Pigeons square in Baščaršija | nikon em + ilford 125 
yes, I've been to places that were once the stage of a war before.  I've been to war museums, exhibitions, listened tour guides talking about front lines, weapons, snipers... but if your travel guide is talking about a first hand experience, and not about something she learned out of a book, well, it makes all the difference.

the siege of Sarajevo lasts from 1992 to 1996, so people my age were 10 years old back then. not young enough to forget.
war signs are everywhere, but that doesn't means that is the only thing to learn in Sarajevo. we did something we've never tried before, a walking tour, and I hope we'll never visit a city without taking one again. it really helps you understand the urban fabric. we choose Insider agency, and saw the city center in a complete different light.
a building voluntarily kept as it looked at the end of the siege | an old shop | nikon em + ilford 125

Sarajevo street | nikon em + ilford 125 
Sarajevo's best feature is the east and west mixture. influences from the austro hungarian times and the ottoman empire coexist at every corner. it could be a tinderbox, or a useful lesson.
you can stand up in a point in the middle of a crowded street, and have 4 different places of worship within a 1 km radius: the mosque (Gazi Husrevbey mosque), the catholic cathedral (Katedrala Srca Isusova), the ortodox cathedral (Saborna Crkva Presvete Bogordice), and the synagogue.

outside the Gazi Husrevbey mosque | nikon em + ilford 125 
the heart of the city is Baščaršija, the turkish neighborhood, a labyrinth made of tiny streets, shops, people eating cevapi with somun bread and yogurt, coffee shops, colorful carpets, smell of hookah, tourists with a backpack on the front.
all the buildings are low, and the streets are named after the kind of workshops used to be there {nowadays just copper street has real copper workshops tough}, and the old sites of the silk market and the spices market are still be recognized: silk needs darkness, so the indoor market was sunshine-proof, and the spices needs cold, so the market has been built underground, and is still functioning as a bazar.
coffee in the most charming tea house: Čajdžinica Džirlo | nikon em + ilford 125 

you can still tell that Sarajevo used to be a wealthy city, and most of the beautiful historical building have been restored after the war, as the theatre, the post office and the library. these buildings resemble the style of Vienna, as they were originally built by the austro hungarians, who used the city as their "test field". for example, Sarajevo was the first city in Europe to have a tram line (still working), cause they tested it there to be sure it was safe before bringing it to Vienna (luckily it was).

the most beautiful among these building is the national library, Vijecnica, built as city hall in moorish style in 1896. it was destroyed on august 25th 1992 by inflammable projectiles that burned more than 80% of the books, the cultural heritage of the country.

the inside of Sarajevo Vijećnica/National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina today. the reconstruction has taken 18 years. iPhone 4s + VSCOcam | Vedran Smajlovic "the cellist of Sarajevo" performing inside the ruined library. He regularly played his cello in targeted buildings during the siege. 

at the front door of Mickey's place, the room we rent on airbnb. the place was an extraordinary melting pot of travellers from all around the world, and the landlond Mickey is an incredible resource of tips and stories. thank you for hosting us! | nikon em + ilford 125 
we left Sarajevo with a collection of question marks and doubts, along with gratitude for this trip, that was doing to us what every travel should do: make you know new things and make you think.

our last stop in Sarajevo, as it used to be for many during the siege, was the tunnel.
outside the tunnel museum, before continuing the roadtrip |  iPhone 4s + VSCOcam

to deepen your knowledge of the Sarajevo siege, I suggest:
  • the siege of Sarajevo 1992-1996, written by Telibecirovic and Colakivic
  • miss Sarajevo, a documentary film by Bill Carter
  • Sarajevo siege photo series by Paul Lowe
nikon em + ilford 125 


  1. if i had not known that you took those pics recently i would have thought they were "vintage" ones, and not because of their edition but because... Sarajevo looks vintage and lovely! the simple city life, the way people dress, the tram... like it didn't age a day since 1940!
    very nice post! thanks for sharing :))

    1. thank you vix, darling!
      i think that the '90s has left some heavy marks, too

  2. great picture and impressions of this city, Silvia :)

  3. Magnificent post, Silvia! The Ilford photos work perfectly with the mood of Sarajevo! Very fascinating!

    1. ilford so far has been my "special occasion" film. i bought it before leaving and thought: this is for Sarajevo

  4. ilford 125 is awesome. i never tried but i am definitely going to give a try.
    these photos looks from another era! ♥♥♥

  5. Sarajevo looks so stuck in the past, and so lovely though. Your photos make me want to visit some time soon. Also, I agree on the walking tours, is the best way to see the best of the city

    1. thank you Barbara! yes, it may seem stucked, but it's struggling to move on.

  6. Splendido post!
    Azzeccatissima la scelta della pellicola che ci porta in un'altra epoca. Interessante la parte descrittiva - hai uno stile di scrittura che coinvolge senza annoiare e un punto di vista che non é mai superficiale.

    1. ma grazie! che splendidi complimenti. spero di avervi messo la pulce nell'orecchio per una visitina a Sarajevo ;)

  7. Vorrei andare anch'io a Sarajevo, una volta o l'altra. Forse le tue foto mi daranno quella spinta che serve a decidere...non so...comunque hai fatto un interessantissimo articolo, coinvolgente. Grazie,

    1. grazie mille robert!
      anche io ho avuto il pensiero di Sarajevo a ronzarmi in testa per diverso tempo prima che decidessimo di andarci veramente. e non mi ha deluso!
      fammi sapere se vai :)


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