During the Siege of Sarajevo, it is estimated that at least 40 per cent of the city's children had been directly shot at by snipers, leaving many with long-term psychosocial issues. For many adults, the shift from socialism to capitalism has proven to be an even bigger source of stress than the war.
Sarajevo – Fact Check

Remembering "Sniper Alley" in a peaceful town

Photo by Jack Picone

Sarajevo – Fact Check Remembering "Sniper Alley" in a peaceful town

Strolling down from the hills of Sarajevo, I make my way to the charming, hillside suburb of Bistrik, along the banks of the Miljacka River and past a group of young Sarajevans playing giant chess in a leafy park.

Gavin Haines
Gavin Haines Travel Writer

With blisters forming on my feet I jump in a taxi, which drives past the iconic Holiday Inn, a gregarious yellow building that hosted the world’s media throughout the Bosnian War. The hotel is on “Sniper Alley,” a nickname given to Vojvode Putnika during the conflict. “When I had to drive along here I did it at night with no lights on and I drove fast,” explains my driver, Haladina. “Many people were killed on this road by the snipers, including children.” The horror is hard to comprehend.

We pass the shiny malls in the new town and arrive at the tower, a brash modern building that completely jars with the bombed-out train station next door. Sure enough, there is a bar at the very top where I order a pint of the local poison, Sarajevska Pivara. It is a lively joint that attracts a young crowd, who share stories over alarming quantities of cigarettes and endless cups of coffee. From my bar stool I watch as the Balkan breeze blows away the clouds to reveal a sweeping view of the city. I head to the platform outside for a better look and watch as Sarajevo basks in the setting sun.

Below me, trams meander around the streets, trees sway in the breeze and terracotta roofs glow in the final rays of the day. The city is peaceful. Peaceful and pretty. It is hard to believe it was ever anything but.

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