When most people head to Europe, it’s unlikely they’re including Sarajevo on their bucket list of places to visit. I ended up passing through on my way to Istanbul because…well I’m not entirely sure why – but I came to be there anyways.
Sarajevo was awarded the 1984 Winter Olympic Games. To accommodate all of the sports, they proposed to build a bobsleigh and luge track on Trebevic Mountain, just southeast of the city. Thousands of fans came to Sarajevo to cheer on their countries. Following the games, the track was used for a variety of other competitions – until the Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War halted activities in the 1990’s.
When enemy forces came to Sarajevo, they instantly noted the usefulness of Trebevic Mountain. It gave a vast and undiminished view of the city below. It was the perfect artillery and strategy location for laying siege. Serbians set up camp and fortified their position with improvements to the tracks and laying of mine fields all over the mountainside (now mostly removed). For nearly four years they sent hundreds of shells a day onto the heads of Sarajevo residents. Marks of the bombardment can still be found around Sarajevo – and particularly in the surrounding areas. Semi-demolished homes, bullet holes, and the occasion warning for landmines stand out to the unaccustomed eye.
Fast Forward to the present
Nowadays, these tracks lay mostly abandoned. Only curious travelers, graffiti artists, and mountain bikers make their way up the mountain to visit the overgrown areas. I had found a few others with an inclination for the tracks earlier that day. Given the rain and fog on the day, we decided it best to avoid getting lost in the mountains and split a cab to the top of the tracks. We were able to walk the length and meet out cabbie at the bottom for just a bit more to the fare.
If making your way through Sarajevo, it’s certainly worth a weird visit. While we opted for a cab, I’ve heard tell you can definitely hike up there within a few hours from the main city.