Sarajevo roses | War residue as a memorial

What is the Sarajevo rose?

Sarajevo roses are memorials, places where the road was damaged during the war and filled with resin to make an eternal memory of war victims.

Sarajevo roses are leftovers of the last war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995). Damage made with the mortar shell’s explosion was filled with red resin in order to be a reminder of this unpleasant and painful history of the country and city itself. They are a kind of memorial and one can find around 200 hundred Sarajevo roses all around the city they are located in places where at least 3 persons died during the siege of Sarajevo.

Sarajevo roses

How the war in Bosnia started

Back in 1992, the history-changing conflict started in Bosnia and Herzegovina and last until 1995. The war started on 6th April 1992 and its final purpose was the fall of Yugoslavia. First to “abandon” the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, and then a Socialist Republic of Croatia (Yes, countries that formed Yugoslavia had a prefix Socialist Republic of…). But when a Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina passed a referendum of independence on 29th February in 1992, Bosnian Serbs banned the referendum because of a higher percentage of Bosnian Muslims in such a complicated multi-ethnic country. When Bosnian president Alija Izetbegović withdrew the previous Cutileiro Plan that proposed the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina into multiple ethnic cantons, Bosnian Serbs led by Radovan Karađić and supported by the Serbian government of Slobodan Milošević and the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), decided to form an army and attack in order to secure their territory.  The war spread quickly and it included a strategy of ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks.

War ended on 14th December 1995 and resulted in numerous war victims, Srebrenica genocide, demolishing of important cultural and historical buildings.

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Interested in the Siege of Sarajevo? Book now our tour – Fall of Yugoslavia and find out more about this historic event that caused the fall of former Yugoslavia.

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Or if you want to read more before your trip, read our blog dedicated to the Srebrenica genocide.

The Sarajevo Siege

The city of Sarajevo was under siege by the army of Republika Srpska from 5th April 1992 until 29th February 1995 – 1425 days! This is the longest city siege in modern history. Forces of Republika Srpska surrounded Sarajevo completely by the hills.

The total number of victims during the siege was 13.952 including 5.434 civilians. The Bosnian government defence forces with around 70.000 troops were poorly equipped and couldn’t break the siege. Surrounded city’s population was around 300.000 – 380.000.

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Crushed cars and the debris of war litter the destroyed streets of Sarajevo, Bosnia, on Friday, March 15, 1996. Photographer: Mark H. Milstein/ Northfoto

Sarajevo roses - Everything but a flower

Sarajevo roses hold and tell a story to every traveller that comes to Sarajevo about this dark moment in history. Could call it a “moment” but in the eye of these people, it surely lasted a thousand years.

When you think of flowers, the first that comes into your mind is a beautiful flower – but in Sarajevo it represents resilience and holds a memory of all victims that lost their lives running for food, walking by the Sarajevo streets, looking out to buy food for their children – but their life ended there, where a rose has risen. 

Already in Sarajevo? Book our free walking tour and get to know the city in a couple of hours.

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So, every time you come to Sarajevo, make sure to read our “Sarajevo roses” and learn something new


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