Tunnel Museum, Sarajevo
I had heard some people say that the Tunnel Museum was very overrated and not to go. This has never stopped me from visiting somewhere before, and boy was I glad that I went. It’s very difficult to find so I was glad that we went with a tour group. By “tour group” I mean five of us in a van with a guy named Sonny. It cost $12 and lasted two and a half hours. Great tour. But I digress…Anyway, I was extremely moved by the Tunnel. The presentation was very good, despite the fact that there were some French people whose cameras were so loud that it was difficult to hear at times. And I loved going through the 25 meters that were preserved. The best part of the tour was the guide, who had actually gone through the tunnel many times during the war. Being an American, and a young one at that, my only experience with war has been through the media so I really have only a vague, troubling sense of what it must have been like. Walking through the tunnel and being able to visit is made it hit closer to home. I was an emotional wreck by the time I left, but I urge everyone to go through it. A great example of the spirit the Sarajevo people possess.
Before we left Sarajevo we went to Ilidza and its Tunnel Museum which is located near Sarajevo's airport.
The story behind the tunnel: During the war, the airport (held by UNPROFOR) was the only link between the city and the mountains which were still "free". People would try to run across the runway of the airport trying to escape. They got shot by snipers in a lot of cases. The UN which had agreed with the Serbs to use the airport for the delivering of humanitarian aid only stopped people who wanted to cross the runway and sent them back into the besieged city. There was no way out. Also there was no way in for food, electricity, weapons etc.
The Bosnian Croat army decided to build a tunnel underneath the runway. It was 800 mtrs long, 1 metre wide and less than 2 metres high. The building took 4 months and 4 days. After a while not only wounded people, weapons and food were transported through here, there also was an electricity and a telephone line as well as oil and water pipelines. The tunnel was the only lifeline for the people of Sarajevo.
Today the family who lived in the house the entrance to the tunnel was built into turned their house into a tunnel museum. The father and son of the Kolar family, who worked on and with the tunnel during the Siege, are there to tell their stories and to maintain the little museum.
We are the first visitors at 9 in the morning and manage to watch a shocking 30 mts film (without commentary, the pictures were strong enough) about the Siege and the tunnel. Afterwards we went through the 20 metres of reconstructed tunnel before unfortunately the crowds (4 coaches full of people!) arrived. So we had no space and patience to look at all the exhibits in the small museum. Nevertheless, a very touching and inspiring place that everyone should visit in order to make the world a better place.
Entrance was 5 KM in May 2007.
Though most of the tunnel collapsed, part of the remains has been formed into a museum which is worth a visit. It also includes some vedio of the destruction of the war. Accommodation agency Lijubicica also arranges a trip to the 'Tunneli' everyday at 10 a.m. You may book early or may show up if there happens to be a seat emty in their micro. It costs 10 Euros. Since the site is near airport it would be a good idea to visit it on your last day if your flight is after 1 p.m. You have to discuss the possibility with them beforehand. I made that arrangement and guess what, I had the trip spending just the taxi-fare getting to the airport which was a pure bonus!
In four months the locals dug this 1.5 meter by 800 meter tunnel near the airport . It was used to move supplies into the city of Sarajevo, which was entirely cut-off by Serbian forces and to transport arms and the sick.
We start our journey with a very graphic video of scenes from Sarajevo during the war . It is a brief but effective means of transporting us into a reality that we have never known.
WE walk a short few meters through the dark dank narrow tunnel . It is enough!! I can only imagine what it must have been like in the tunnel that is so small you can't even stand trying to transport the dead and dying and to carry the heavy but all important supplies. We were told it was bombed many times during the seige ...Sarajevo roses are imbeded still in the floor as proof!!
The entrance to the tunnel starts at the front of Edis Kolar's home . It looks like an ordinary house in the subburbs....who could imagine the bravery that unfolded here...
Entrance to the museum is 5KM.
open 7 days a week from 9 to 5.
One of the most remarkable sights in all of Bosnia-Hercegovina, a trip to the Tunnel Museum will most likely be among of the most enduring images you leave the country with. The tunnel was Sarajevo's only link to the outside world as it was pummeled by Serbian paramilitary forces and the former Yugoslav army during the 3 year siege of the city in the early 90s. The tunnel was built secretly under the airport runway by the Bosnian Muslims to send food, supplies and reinforcements into the surrounded city.
Prior to the building of the tunnel, the only way in or out of the city was to run across the airport while being fired on upon by Serbian snipers.
The museum isn't the easiest place to get to without a car. I dropped some cash on a taxi ride to get there (From what I hear there is an unfrequent bus and then a significant walk the rest of the way).
The mountains surrounding the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo make it easy to encircle and cut off from the rest of the world. And that's exactly what Serb forces did during the conflict of 1992-95. The trapped citizens came under incessant bombardment for three and a half years, with no way in or out of the town except across the airport runway. From there, the only mountain not occupied by Serb forces, Mount Igman, could be reached.
This was extremely dangerous and many people lost their lives to snipers as they attempted the run. The situation became so desperate as supplies dwindled, that the Bosnian Army decided to dig a tunnel under the airstrip in a bid to save the town.
In the tunnel museum, you can view a movie about the tunnel, which was the only way from Sarajevo to a relatively safer place. People transported food etc through it. You can also view a part of the tunnel, and some ammunition, paper articles, food-packets and other stuff from the war. Very impressive. I think the price was 5KM for a person but I'm not sure..
During the Siege of Sarajevo, Serbian forces had the entire city of Sarajevo surrounded. For the people of the city, a secret tunnel under the airport's runway (which NATO had declared to be a no-fire zone) was their only connection to the outside world, and the only way in which they could get access to clothing, food, medical supplies and, yes, arms. It took workers six months to dig the tunnel from the yard of a private residence to the Bosnian-held zone on the opposite side of the runway. The tunnel was only 1.5 metres high and one metre wide, but was almost one kilometre in length. Nearly twenty million tons of food entered the city through the tunnel, and about one million passed through the tunnel, one way or the other.
Today you can visit the Tunnel Museum and go through a small section of the tunnel yourself. You'll also have the opportunity to see displays about the war and speak to locals about their own experiences. I was particularly interested in the stories of the family who owned the home, and their neighbours. It is a sobering place to visit and highly recommended. I recommend visiting as part of an organized tour, or with a taxi, as this is not a transit-accessible area.