MMShangri-la at the Bottom of a Bowl of Mountains

MMnDecember 1993 - 1994


1.NBuilt for the 1984 Winter Olympics, the Skenderija sports complex sits on the left bank (southern side) of the Miljaska river,
on the edge of the fin de siecle Centar built during the decades when old Vienna held sway.
Photo is December 1993. Samir Pazalja, Haris Džananović and Admir Suljevic (left to right, foreground left) say hello from Sarajevo in February 2012.

2A.NNow looking slightly (south) west. A siege line can be seen in the trees near the top.

2B.NLooking slightly further west of south, from Skenderija.

2C.NLooking further west, still from Skenderija.
The mountaintop road controlled by the aggressors is visible.

3.NBack east to the view south of Skenderija.
The homes up there beneath No Man's Land are safe from neither gunfire nor looters, the
latter which some refer to as tourists. Or Montenegrins.

4.N Now looking southeast, toward the mountains that shelter the ski town of Pale (PAH-lay),
which the besieging Bosnian Serb nationalists, led by Radovan Karadzić, call home.
Note that Skenderija's windows have suffered. All the riverfront structures, so civic and so exposed,
get used for target practice by the aggressors in the hills. The shipping containers protect pedestrians.

5.NThe same southeast ridge, seen from further east and the south side of the river

6.N Still looking at the southeast quadrant of encircling mountains, but now from the big square at the heart
of Baščaršija, the Ottoman-era Market district in the city's old east end.
One local friend says this main square was referred to as "Ground Zero" even before the siege. (?)

7.N Looking south/southwest, down toward Ground Zero, having climbed the northern hill in the background of shot 10.
Note, for orientation, the minarets prominent in the prior two shots are here as well.
The man in the hat walking past the white car may be Hazim.

8.N Looking due east. The hilltop fortress also appears in shots 9, 11 and 12.

9.N Again looking east, from the burnt shell of the National Library, SE of and below Ground Zero on the river.

10.N Standing in almost the same spot as in shot 6 above -- but the POV now swings about 150 degrees
to the north, to take in the northeast quadrant of the mountain bowl.

11.N The northeast quadrant of the mountain bowl, above the eastern side of the Old Town.
The fortress appears in both the prior and next shots.
The modern yellow domed buildings (bottom) are in the next two.

12.N A wider shot of the bowl's northeast quadrant, seen from the same place as shot 5, south of the river.
The mod yellow buildings seen in the prior shot (and next), centered here, mark the riverfront.

13.N Jumping back to the Centar, to look due south at the mod yellow buildings of prior two shots and the bowl's southern ridge.

14.N This mountain in the very center of the besieged pocket is not controlled by the aggressors.
A pitched battle was fought in spring (early summer?) 1992 to clear it of Serb nationalist forces.
Otherwise life in the city would have been simply ... much worse. See the next photo for another angle.
The magnificent building is the seat of the University of Sarajevo. Beside it, the burnt-out shell of the Old Vienna Post Office

15.N Left here is a far shoulder of the central peak seen in prior, overlooking the Lion Graveyard and blasted
soccer fields how serving the same fatal purpose. The broadcast tower is dimly visible above the red dot.

16.N Note how the Front snakes down its ridge (bottom center) to encompass Grbavica, the one
central neighborhood occupied by Serb nationalist forces.

17.N The mountains to the north (right) are occupied by the aggressors, who often harry funerals here with sniper fire.
The monumental stone lion that gives this old hillside graveyard its name lounges sphinxlike beneath the pine trees.

18.NThe northern ridges of the encircling mountain bowl, above the frontier where the fin de siecle Austrian Centar
gives way to the 20th century heading west. The double spires of the Viennese Cathedral are near the right edge of the 2nd shot.
( The round brown-roofed building on the left edge of the 2nd shot helps orient the two. )

19.NThis view of the siege is from the north.

20.N This 2010 view looks north, from a ridge south of the river.
The yellow cube (center) is the Holiday Inn, built for the '84 Olympics, then badly tormented during the siege.
The blue glass skyscraper, alas, is not a PhotoShop joke. Newly completed, it seems an evil twin of New York's misconceived new "Freedom Tower."

21.N Another CONTEMPORARY shot, due west, from further east, with the Holiday Inn and the UNIS twin towers in the distance
and the monumental Vijećnica (the National Library) on the river (center), its shell still standing but never reinspired.

22.N Looking southwest, from the hillside just east of the National Library.

23.NThe map on the wall at the Bosnian Army's film unit in Skenderija, December 1993.

The End