Day 176: Bosnia, We’ll Never Forget

Forget Not – Mostar’s old bridge was destroyed in 1993 during Bosnia’s civil war

Bosnia, Bosnia… where do I even start! 2 cities in a short 3 days and you already have us fascinated and captivated.

Bombed out remains of once glorious buildings littered throughout Mostar

A land of startling contrast with so much history. Glorious buildings established under the Austro-Hungarian empire stand side by side with ugly concrete blocks from communist Yugoslavia, many of which live on today as war-ravaged ruins, bombed out during the ’92-95 civil war. Massed white graves bearing names of those who lost their lives – different years of birth, same year of death… I remember well but understood little – back then the names Bosnia and Sarajevo constantly made headline news but I was too ignorant to comprehend what was going on in this corner of the world, too fortunate to appreciate what it meant to grow up in a war-free environment.

It’s almost impossible not to feel the painful past – walls bearing the scars of heavy gunfire remain so visibly in-your-face, as if the fighting was only yesterday. But no, it all ended 15 years ago.

Dressed up for a wedding: Bosnian women are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen so far

Today, Bosnia seems to be slowly but surely moving on. War ruins may linger around many more years, but the generation that were only children at the time have grown into fashionable 21st century adults. New cars and high heels stroll pass bombed out buildings. I hope this generation will, unlike me, have a stronger appreciation for peace. I hope that they too believe nobody wins in a war.

Muslim Bosnian in contemplation…

There’s more to Bosnia, the contrasts don’t end here. Having been ruled under the Ottoman Empire centuries ago, the country is full of historic Turkish buildings and Islamic mosques. In fact the majority here are Muslims (40%). The cityscapes of Mostar and Sarajevo are pierced by numerous towering minarets; there’s a real Arabic vibe here but the people are clearly European. This unique mix of East-meets-West got us wondering if we’d reached the Middle East already! I remember reading somewhere that Bosnia had been known for its religious tolerance, a country where mosques and churches stand in close proximity.

Mostar’s breath-taking old bridge

Both Mostar and Sarajevo have truly impressed me. The former for its beautiful Islamic skyline and Stari Most (old bridge) which took my breath away; the latter for its vibrant old town, colourful people, and story of endurance during the Sarajevo siege.

A minaret spiking Sarajevo’s skyline

If Europe doesn’t excite you, Bosnia may just as well give you the fix you’re looking for (it did for us!). There’s real character here and vivid sights that will get you thinking. If not, at least standing on the exact location that ignited the First World War is pretty awe inspiring enough…

Assassination in Sarajevo: The incident that ultimately spiraled into WWI

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  1. ace says:

    touching post.

  2. Anonymous says:

    compelling capture of an incredibly beautiful and special part of our world.

  3. santasa says:

    I really like this post !

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