Trip Start Apr 01, 2011
73Trip End Jan 26, 2012
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For me, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Sarajevo is, "host city of the 1984 Winter Olympics," which it was, back when it was a part of Yugoslavia. Like Calgary, who hosted the next Winter Olympics in 1988, Sarajevo is still quite attached to the Olympic legacy. Their Olympic mascot, Vučko the wolf, can still be seen in a number of places around the city.
Unfortunately, Sarajevo has had a few other things going on since the Olympics in '84 that have overshadowed those couple of happy weeks 27 years ago. Between the spring of 1992 and the end of 1995, Sarajevo was the site of the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare
One of the other infamous events in Sarajevo's history happened much earlier in the 20th century, back in the early summer of 1914… Throughout history, Bosnia has belonged to different empires and in 1914, it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, which was a significant world power in those times. Not everyone in Serbia was happy with Bosnia belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Empire though and wanted to send a message to the Austro-Hungarian emperor about their displeasure. One fateful June day when the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were driving through Sarajevo, a group of Serbian sponsored assassins were waiting for them along the planned motorcade route. As the motorcade was driving through Sarajevo, a bomb was thrown into the Archduke's convertible but it bounced out of the car and injured a few people in the car behind them, leaving Franz Ferdinand unharmed… Later that day, a second assassin was waiting for the Archduke to finish his speech and continue along the planned motorcade route. The Archduke was not expected to pass the location where the second assassin was waiting for another half hour so the assassin ducked into a deli a block down the street for a bite to eat. Unbeknownst to him, the Archduke cut his speech short and decided to go to the hospital to visit the people injured in the earlier assassination attempt
We went on a walking tour of Sarajevo one afternoon and learned a few interesting things about the city. Sarajevo had been called “The Jerusalem of Europe” because in the past people from numerous different religions peacefully co-existed in the city. A good example of this is, in the small core of the old town, two Muslim Mosques, an Orthodox Christian Church, a Catholic Cathedral and Jewish Synagogue are all within a couple of blocks of each other. Although a lot of that historical tolerance seems to have been damaged during the most recent war, the buildings are all still there hopefully awaiting the day when everyone is able to live together again in peace. During our tour of one of the Mosques, we passed through a Muslim cemetery and learned that each grave has two markers, one to mark the head end and the other to mark the foot end of the grave
The day after we arrived in Sarajevo was the opening day of the annual International Folk Dance Festival in Sarajevo. We attended the opening ceremonies and watched performances of traditional folk music and dancing from different areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as many other countries in Central and Eastern Europe and even an entry from Saudi Arabia.