Sarajevo came into a creation in the Balkans in 1506, resembling a magnificent pearl awaiting discovery of its timeless resilience, inner calm, and opulent beauty; even so, almost five centuries later, the city known as “castle field” emerged matured, and perfectly off-balance, yet steadfast, through the many tumultuous attacks. Despite everything, Sarajevo is and will continue to thrive.
Built within a blended delight of Serbian-Byzantine, Islamic, Medieval, Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance styles, Sarajevo was often depicted as a brilliant snowflake caressing the sky during wintertime.
The Illyrians were the first inhabitants of the area, followed by four cultures from the east: Hellenism in the prehistoric period, Mithraism in the late classical age, the Byzantine culture in the fourth century, and the Turkish Islamic culture in the fifteenth century. The Slavic people arrived in the beginning of the Middle Ages in the seventh century.
Who could have known what rampage was to come as the years blurred, along with the hope for a united presence, as 1991 became the new norm, the Slavs became traitors to their homeland, and to each other, raging simultaneously, conquering systematically, and cleaning ethnically?
The land, peace, and unity were in their hands, but only to be discarded foolishly, along with the abolishment of fairness and logic, resulting in an open embrace of war and suffering. Many believe that through pain and suffering, great spiritual healing takes place, strengthening our core essence, but the opposite became the reality among the people of Yugoslavia.
In 1994, Mozart’s “Requiem” was performed in Sarajevo in honor of those who lost their lives in the “Bloody Crush.” Now, within our twenty-first century, Slavs still have many war-torn buildings and towers as a memorial to their civil war. Many of them will remember their tragedies, and grieve during the best and worst moments of their lives.
Sarajevo is situated in the valley of the River Miljacka, and surrounded by mountains-Jahorina, Trebevic, Treskavica, Igman, and Bjelasnica. Through the cross-roads that run along the valleys of the rivers, Bosnia and Neretva, Sarajevo connects Northern Europe with the Mediterranean Sea. The city has always been a geographic, political, and ethnic focal point, as its location is ideally positioned at a cultural intersection between Eastern and Western Europe.
The beginning of World War I, the XIV Winter Olympic Games, and the center of “Ethnic Cleansing” after the fall of Yugoslavia was hosted by Sarajevo. The city also heralds the rituals of many different religions. Daily, at 2 a.m., the clock strikes on the Catholic Cathedral in Sarajevo, while approximately two minutes later, the Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church announces itself. The Muezzin from Sahat Tower of Beg’s mosque follows with his call of the Allahu Akbar. Amidst of all, the Jewish Synagogue stands un-moved, facing east toward Jerusalem.
Yugoslavia left Sarajevo behind to prove that ethnic differences can and will unite people, and this city has succeeded by integrating all religions into the culture. A city where war began, but love triumphed. Sarajevo is a city that shares a vast brotherhood with twenty-four other cities who embrace diversity and unity. There are: Coventry, Great Britain since 1957, Magdeburg, Germany since 1972, Napoli, Italy since 1994, Ankara, Turkey since 1994, Budapest, Hungary since 1995, Serre-Chevalier, France since 1995, Barcelona, Spain since 1996, Stockholm, Sweden since 1997, Kuwait, Kuwait since 1998, and USA based Dayton, Ohio since 1999. As for the remainder of the world, as evidenced during the 1984 Olympic Games, there will always be a warm welcome in Sarajevo.