Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Wounded City

I picked up a book while we were in Bosnia and Herzegovina called Sarajevo: The Wounded City. Those words speak the truth; Sarajevo bears a truly tragic past. Long before the horrifying events that shocked the world during the Yugoslav war (1992-1995) Sarajevo had the misfortune of being marched over by nearly every European and Middle Eastern Empire that ever dreamed of touching the Mediterranean. 

The city has come a long way since 1995 and many parts have been restored so as to surpass even their original beauty. That said, many scars still remain. Fired ravaged and bombed out structures are still to be found intermittently among the shining new hotels and restored historical buildings.

For a time, during the communist era, Sarajevo was a shining star and was hailed as the cultural capital of Yugoslavia. The war wiped away much of that previous glory and today the city struggles to redefine itself. Surely I am naive, coming from Canada and what to me, in all my polite, positive and optimistic mentality, is a multicultural utopia, but it seems to me that the key to Sarajevo's identity lies right beneath its nose. Centuries of turmoil have resulted in what, for Easter Europe, is an overwhelmingly diverse hodgepodge of a population. 

Here, old enemies, Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks alike, live and work amongst one another in peace. An Orthodox Cathedral, a Catholic Church, a Jewish Synagogue and a plethora of ─Éamija (Mosques) are all to be found within a two block radius of one another in the centre of the old city. I find myself wondering how long this peace can last. Can these extremely conservative groups comprehend and accept the notion that their diversity is what will be their 
salvation? As an insider looking out, I can see how the rich history of Sarajevo, however agonizing, when coupled with that diversity has the potential to make this city one of Europe's most prized capitals.

One of the most famous events to occur in Sarajevo was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, and his wife Sofia. 


The royal couple were killed by a young Serb on the North bank of the River Miljacka moments after crossing over the now famed Latin Bridge (above) in an open top carriage.The assassination is commonly regarded as the catalyst that ignited the First World War.

More to Follow...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for presenting this, have you ever considered a career as a travel writer, Robbie? I'm very serious, you can write for Canadians in a style we're familiar with, about places most of us will never see.