Sarajevo war tunnel, most commonly know as Tunnel of Hope was the only way in or out of Sarajevo during war times. It was used to supply the city with most essential needs.
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 the 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, siege of Sarajevo that lasted 1,425 days, and Sarajevo War tunnel, our topic for this text.
Read more about that on our Siege of Sarajevo blog, or even better, book our Fall of Yugoslavia | Sarajevo Siege tour and we will introduce you to our war history and will even show you the Sarajevo War tunnel during our tour.
The Siege of Sarajevo was in a full swing and the hoop around the city of Sarajevo was getting bigger and bigger every day. Citizens of Sarajevo were unable to receive food because Serb forces were controlling the majority of the city lines.
At the time, there were only two free zones in the whole city, one in the neighbourhood called Dobrinja, and the other one called Butmir. Members of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina came up with an idea that sounded insane at the time, to dig a tunnel below the airport and to connect two free territories.
It is important to understand that this was a clandestine operation, and only a bunch of the people knew about it. The codename was Object D-B, symbolically, as it was planned to connect to of above-mentioned neighbourhoods, Dobrinja and Butmir.
Digging started on 1st March 1993, and members of the Army were digging nonstop, 24 hours a day. The shift lasted for 8 hours; they were digging simultaneously from opposite directions, and their paycheck was a package of cigarettes daily.
The total length of the tunnel was close to 800 meters, 785.5 meters to be exact. The whole tunnel was dug in less than 4 months, imagine that? It gets even more fascinating when you know that Army did not have anything else than their bare hand, showles and picks. With that, they also had wheelbarrows to carry the detritus out of the tunnel. The total amount of soil removed was close to 3000 m3, while on the other hand, 45 tons of steel and close to 200 m3 of wood were used to construct the tunnel.
The biggest problem while constructing the Sarajevo war tunnel was underwater which was frequently thrown out by hands as no other equipment was available. Also, due to permanent shelling, a pipeline was installed inside the tunnel so the oil can be delivered to the city. Genuineness continues as electric cables were installed so the city has the electricity and telephone lines connecting it to the world since it was totally cut off prior to this event.
The tunnel was the only way to supply the city with essential groceries, water, fuel, newspapers and weapons. It also had a downside as a few black markets emerged, but it was important to fulfil the most essential needs at the time.
War tunnel was also a path for humanitarian aid which was incredibly important as Sarajevo was at the siege for 1,425 days.
Also, the multipurpose war tunnel was a gateway card from the sieged city of Sarajevo, and a lot of citizens fled the city through the tunnel. Roughly, 3 million trips were made through the Sarajevo war tunnel during the war
As we are the best and top-rated tourist agency in Sarajevo and one of the best in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we would recommend you to take our Fall of Yugoslavia | Sarajevo Siege Tour and to visit the Sarajevo War Tunnel with us. We are experienced in what we do and the tunnel is really difficult to find and locate even if you are following Google maps or any other map system. For this one, you need to have a local expert with you.
This is our most popular tour and it is especially dedicated as a name says, to the Fall of Yugoslavia, one of the best and greatest countries in Europe at the time.
With our experienced Sarajevo local guides, you will be able to understand better the rich and sometimes violent history of this city and the whole Balkan region.
The facts presented in this war tour are delivered from an intellectual perspective, greatly insightful if you want to learn about what it was like to live in the former Yugoslavia and to have been affected by the war, as well as the big picture of these tragic events.
While on tour, you will be able to visit 14 spots of great importance to the Hero City, as that is one of the nicknames for Sarajevo. Stories you will hear on our tour will for sure remain in your memory because you will not read them anywhere else as those are local stories only known to local people.
Sarajevo War Tunnel or Tunnel of Hope is a tunnel that was dug beneath the Sarajevo Airport during the Civil war in Bosnia. It is fascinating because no one knew about the tunnel being dug as it was a clandestine operation. Moreover, it was dug by the Bosnian Army and it was mostly dug by hand as they did not have any tools.
You can visit the Sarajevo War Tunnel by joining us on our Fall of Yugoslavia | Sarajevo Siege tour. Sarajevo War Tunnel is one of the most important highlights of the tour.
So, every time you come to Sarajevo, make sure to read our “Sarajevo War Tunnel” and learn something new
If you are a traveller who would like to add something to our list, or you know some amazing facts about this city, make sure you contact us with the message subject “Sarajevo War Tunnel”. Looking forward to hearing from you!
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