Sarajevo Roses – Painful War Memories Etched in Asphalt

They sound like something beautiful, and they are quite nice to look at, but as soon as you learn the story of the Sarajevo Roses, you realize they are really the legacy of a truly tragic event, the Bosnian War of the 1990s.

Between 1992 and 1996, Bosnian Serb Forces bombarded the city of Sarajevo in what is remembered as the longest siege in the history of modern warfare. As you can imagine this kind of event leaves serious scars both in the hearts of those affected and on the city’s infrastructure. A Sarajevo Rose is a concrete scar made by a mortar shell explosion that was later painted with red resin as a memorial to those who were killed during the Siege of Sarajevo. It seems unnatural to compare the mark of a mortar explosion to the beauty of a rose, but the unique fragmentation pattern of a mortar round hitting concrete does indeed have a floral look. Still, while roses are a symbol of love and beauty, Sarajevo Roses represent a collective memory of the physical scars of war.

Although many Sarajevo Roses have disappeared as the asphalt was replaced in the 16 years since the conflict ended, there are still many of them left. And that’s not very surprising considering the number of shells that dropped during the 1,335 days the city was under siege. According to some estimates an average of 329 bombs hit Sarajevo every day, with a maximum of 3,777 recorded on July 22, 1993. There are Sarajevo Roses in front of churches, bakeries, on pedestrian streets serving as a reminder of the constant horror in which the people of Sarajevo lived for almost four years.

Sarajevo Roses have become very popular tourist attractions, and that makes many of the victims of the Bosnian War want to erase all of them. They feel that being sold to tourists cheapens their original meaning as reminders of a tragic event that claimed so many innocent lives. Other believe they bring back unnecessary memories of something that happened a long time ago, while others would just like to have seamless streets. But the Sarajevo Roses still remain etched in asphalt as a testament of what the Bosnian city and its inhabitants had to endure.





Sources: 1, 2

Posted in Pics, Travel        Tags: , , , ,