Saravejo Parks and Public Spaces
Updated: Jan 22
By Charlie McCabe
Park in Sarajevo, around the corner from our airbnb.
Over the past year, I've been writing on a number of serious topics regarding parks, open space, nonprofit partnerships, and visits to cities when working with clients on park issues. Its time to shift gears a bit. I was recently looking through photos and videos from an extended trip to Central Europe in the fall of 2019 and noticed that I had not shared much from that trip, especially given the great parks, trails, and public spaces that I visited. The first is my favorite city of the trip: Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The main, pedestrianized street of Saravejo.
If you came of age in the early 1990s like I did, Sarajevo and other cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina bring back lasting images, especially the multi-year siege of Sarajevo through the religious- and ethnic-fueled conflicts that resulted in needless suffering and tens of thousands of civilians killed. It was striking to be visiting from the United States, a few months prior to the pandemic, but also during the early stages of the 2020 presidential election and not see the parallels in these conflicts.
Above: Central Square in downtown Sarajevo; Below: chess in the square.
Sarajevo is nestled in a mountainous region of the country, with a population of just over 275,000. It hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics, serving as the representative of the former Yugoslavia at that time. Less than seven yers later, it became a symbol of modern conflict as well as hatred run amok. The country remains divided through a complicated peace plan and governance structure, but the city has been rebuilt and it is also one you find few Americans visiting. The blend of architecture, religions, and cultures is pretty amazing, and it's a delight to wander around on foot, although you do need to be prepared for some serious climbing.
The architecture is stunning, with examples from different centuries (and prior empires) Above is the restored City Hall, built during the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A view of the ceiling of the central hall is below. It now houses a museum and library.
Perhaps the most striking aspect is that many former parks are now cemeteries, where the dead were buried during the multi-year long siege of Sarajevo. They are well-maintained and a stark contrast to the rebuilt adjacent parks and neighborhoods from where so many people lost their lives. But Sarajevo is a city of the living and seems to embrace the fact that one shouldn't forget history from long ago or recently.
A hillside cemetery, with the former Olympic Stadium, now a soccer stadium, in the background.
Below, a view of more cemeteries, with new apartment buildings in the background.
A recent addition is a gondola that transports you to the mountain park where the former Olympic bobsled run sits in a state of advanced decay. (It also makes you realize how much a bobsled run uses elevation drop to propel the sleds—lots of climbing!)
The city grows smaller as the gondola whisks us up the mountain (above and below).
View from the Saravejo Olympic Bobsled Run (above and below)
Cities are for the living and Sarajevo is no exception, showing us the ability for humans (and nature) to adapt and respond to many challenges. I look forward to returning.
Workout area (above) and dog park (below)
People enjoying an outdoor cafe on a mid-October afternoon.
© Copyright 2023, Charlie McCabe Consulting LLC