Central Europe: Bosnia and Herzegovina - Tunnel of Hope

By Cubie - December 03, 2014

Entrance to the tunnel
Sarajevo Tunnel or also known as Tunnel of Hope was constructed between 1992 and November 1995 in the midst of the Bosnian War. It was built by the Bosnian Army, aiming to link the city of Sarajevo with Bosnian-held territory on the other side of the Sarajevo Airport as the rest of the area was under the power of Serbian forces. The tunnel allows food and war supplies to be send into the city and people to get out.

We joined a tour provided by Insider for 30 km (15€) per person and our tour guide that day was Samra. The tour started outside at Insider's office, near the Latin Bridge. Samra talked about the Siege of Sarajevo while we gather on the Latin Bridge itself while waiting to board the bus to the tunnel.

I don't know the actual age of Samra but her childhood was during the Siege of Sarajevo. Samra spoke perfect English and informed us that she at almost the end of the siege, she fled Sarajevo and was in Zagreb for 2 months before spending the next 13 months (or was it 11) in New Jersey. She talked about Yugoslavia, the geography of Sarajevo and how organising the Olympics in 1984 was a big thing. Along the way to the tunnel, she also pointed out certain buildings including the Holiday Inn and what happened then.

Next to the entrance of the tunnel are the three flags of BiH. From left - Kingdom of Bosnia 1377–1463,
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1998–present and Independent Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992–1998.
The one in the middle is BiH's current flag, introduced by UN after the signing of the Dayton Agreement.

The tunnel was used to transport firearms and food from outside and cigarettes out. Samra mentioned of a journalist who wrote an autobiography along the lines of, "Coffee is a way of life but cigarette is a necessity." I can't seem to find the autobiography but it pretty much sum up a lot of BiH. They drink a lot of coffee but it also appear that almost everyone smokes. In the days of hardship during the siege, cigarette remained an important comodity. Samra recalled of signs around the city to warn of the snipers which would just read, "Beware of snipers". She also remember one cynical one that read, "Run or Rest in Peace." Cynical but very true.

During the time of our visit, Sarajevo was hosting their 20th annual film festival. This film festival started during the war days so it was an important event for them. It gave the hope that they could still have some entertainment during the siege days.

Prior to getting into the tunnel itself, we were showed some short video clips on the tunnel. Then came the part of walking the tunnel. It was a very short part that was opened but I understand that it will be impossible to allow anyone to go underground towards the airport ground.

The direction of the other side of the tunnel - the airport. 
This Tunnel of Hope tour is one of those tour that I think one would learn more compared to doing a self guided one. Without any of the commentary, I think just seeing the tunnel itself would be probably be a rather disappointment.

Side note: There's a reason why people leave work phone at work....

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