Sarajevo cable car reopens after 26 years
Sarajevo’s cable car has reopened, 26 years after it was destroyed during the prolonged siege.
Hundreds of Sarajevans watched the Trebevic mountain service reopen.
Mountain guide Fikret Kahrovic said: “Trebevic was the only place to breathe fresh air when the city was engulfed in fumes, but that all changed and the mountain became our enemy.”
Many Bosnians saw it as symbolic.
“It was the first view of the whole city,” said singer Zijo Rizvanbegovic from the rock band Valentino, who were popular when Yugoslavia was a federal republic.
“There are several symbols of this city and I believe that the cable car, along with the national library, is the most important.
“I never sent a postcard from Sarajevo without the photo of the cable,” he said.
It ran from near Bascarsija, the Ottoman area of Sarajevo, and opened in 1959 and became a focal point during the 1984 Winter Olympics, as the mountain hosted the bobsleigh tracks.
In March 1992 cable car guard Ramo Biber was killed as one of the first victims of Bosnia’s 1992-95 civil war, which claimed nearly 100,000 lives.
The new cable car, named after Biber, starts at 583 metres and rises to 1,160 metres.
Mount Trebevic was used by Bosnian-Serb forces to keep Sarajevo under the siege and the cable car goes above the former front line.
Edmond Offermann, 58, a US doctor who married a Bosnian woman, Maja, before the war, pioneered the project.
“In 1998 I came back to Sarajevo … I was up there in the trenches and I realised the importance of establishing the connection between the top of the mountain and the city, the two parts that were for four years at war with each other,” the Dutch-born medic said.
Offerman donated €3.3 million for the reconstruction, nearly half of the budget.
“We have reconstructed the last of destroyed Sarajevo symbols,” said mayor Abdulah Skaka.
He praised Offermann and his wife, saying it was a “monument to their love”.
The 44-month-siege, the longest in the history of modern warfare, left more than 11,000 dead, including 1,600 children.
In August 1995, following mortar attacks that killed numerous civilians and provoked global condemnation, Nato finally intervened and began strategic bombing of the artillery positions on Trebevic. The Bosnian Serbs retreated and the Dayton Peace Agreement soon followed, splitting the nation into two largely autonomous entities – the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bosnian-Serb-run Republika Srpska.
The 1984 Winter Olympic vin Sarajevo in 1995. Picture credit: Wikimedia