Our journey through Novo Sarajevo also begins near a bridge. Back in 1992, on 5th April, a large number of Sarajevans attended a protest march against the division of the city. During the demonstrations on Vrbanja Bridge, marked by the Serb Nationalists as the dividing line, is where the first victims fell. Sniper fire from Serbian barricades fell on the crowd of demonstrators, who were asking for peace and refusing to accept the division of their city. While shocked protestors ran for cover, two young women, Suada Dilberović, a medical grad student from Dubrovnik and Olga Sučić, a mother of two, were killed on Vrbanja Bridge by sniper fire from Serbian barricades near the former Unioninvest building. They were the first of 10,514 victims who lost their lives during the forthcoming three year long siege of Sarajevo.
“Kap moje krvi poteče i Bosna ne presuši!” (A drop of my blood is spilled, so the Bosnia River may never run dry) are the words engraved on a memorial plaque marking this tragic event which marked the beginning of the longest siege of any city in modern history of mankind.
Once again, everything happens near one of the bridges. From the day Olga and Suada lost their lives on Vrbanja Bridge, Grbavica neighborhood became a symbol of the most difficult days in the history of Sarajevo. JNA (Yugoslav National Army) and local terrorists deployed 260 tanks, 120 mortars and a large number of small arms on the hills and mountains around the city. Sarajevo was a target with no food, water or electricity. For the first time in history, the crimes against humanity are directly broadcast on the television, for all the world to see. During the siege of Sarajevo, which lasted 1417 days, 10,514 civilians, including 1,598 children were killed by the Serbian aggressor. After atrocities committed by JNA and Serbian units in Grbavica during the war, they were forced to withdraw after Dayton Agreement was signed leaving behind a completely destroyed and devastated neighborhood.
This Sarajevo neighborhood became famous again in 2006, when Bosnian-Herzegovinian director Jasmila Žbanić won the Golden Bear for her film “Grbavica”.
However, the biggest Grbavica brand is FC Željezničar, established in 1921. Grbavica Stadium opened its gates on 13 September 1953, when “Željo” claimed its first victory on the new stadium before a packed audience.
Downstream from Olga and Suada Bridge, stretching through Grbavica neighborhood is Vilsonovo šetalište (Wilson’s Promenade). Although it changed its name several times in the past, today it carries the name of the 28th President of US – Thomas Woodrow Wilson. Along the 2km long avenue, tucked between rows of old linden trees, there are a number of bridges. The “youngest” among them is a footbridge called Ars Aevi, work of famous Italian architect Renzo Piano which is located near the site planned for a museum of contemporary art.
The stroll down “Wills” ends at the Elektroprivreda (Electric Power Industry), a building in the form of an inverted pyramid, designed in the seventies by the architect Ivan Strauss.
Above Grbavica is Vraca. In this neighborhood, at the site where fascists killed many patriots during the Second World War, Sarajevans have raised a monumental Memorial Park Vraca as an expression of gratitude and respect for all the soldiers and victims of fascist terror who lost their lives during the “People’s Liberation War”. More than 11,000 names are inscribed on the granite surfaces of the Vraca Fortress.