Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope: Historical Milestone of the War

Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope is one of the top places to visit in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thanks to this tunnel, which is one of the places where you can best understand the spirituality of the Bosnian war, the lives of thousands of people were saved.

During the Bosnian War, Sarajevo was besieged by Yugoslavian soldiers and the attitude of the Serbs in the Bosnian War caused the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to starve and their health deteriorated. The people of Sarajevo were short of food and medicine, and transportation to their lands was also very dangerous.

Saraybosna Sirp Isgali Haritasi Umut Tuneli
Under the airport in Sarajevo, bottom left, where the tunnel was built.

Sarajevo Tunnel

Construction of the Tunnel of Hope

Although the airport is under the control of the United Nations, the defense line in the area of Dobrinja and Butmir is the thinnest in the region, separating the army and the population. With Serbian soldiers stationed on both sides of the airport, it was very difficult to cross the airport, which is flat and has very good visibility. This difficult crossing made the lack of food a big problem over time. Any group that tried to cross to the other side would return with heavy casualties, because they were open targets for the snipers in the mountains.

Aliya Izetbegovic, the first President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with his friends, had organized the construction of the tunnel so that the aid arriving by airplanes could be delivered to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and people could leave the city safely. They went through a very difficult process, such as the winter season, trying to keep the tunnel project secret from everyone, physical security measures, groundwater, lack of materials, movements caused by heavy airplanes and fear of collapse, lack of oxygen, lack of resources, especially light, and the fate of the rubble.

Saraybosna Umut Tuneli Ekipmanlari
Saraybosna Umut Tuneli Fotograf Galerisi

The Tunnel That Saved Thousands of People

To overcome this dire situation, a tunnel was dug secretly from the Serbs over a period of 4 months, working 8 hours a day in 3 shifts. The tunnel ran under the Sarajevo International Airport, which is still in use today. In the 800-meter-long tunnel, which was dug from two sides and met in the middle, it was possible to pass to safe areas with the help of a rail and wagon system. It became a living tunnel through which hundreds of people passed every day. The city was supplied with pipes for fuel and electricity, primarily for hospitals. Crossing the tunnel could take half an hour or two hours, depending on the density. They even created a telephone system that allowed communication between the two ends.

Saraybosna Umut Yasam Tuneli Savas Muzesi
Sarajevo Life Tunnel - War Museum
Saraybosna Umut Yasam Tuneli Tunel Canlandirmasi
Life Tunnel Reenactment

Kolar Family House

Thousands of people were saved thanks to this 1 meter wide and 160 centimeters high Tunnel of Hope / Tunnel of Life / Tunnel of Life. The house that allowed the tunnel to be dug, which carried supplies and ammunition throughout the war, belongs to the Kolar family, a house riddled with bullets and bombs. The Kolar family, mostly through their own means, has turned the building into a museum to keep this historical memory alive. The tools used to dig the tunnel, the carts used to carry the cargo and the chair in which Another Izetbegovic was carried are on display in the rooms of the war museum.

Saraybosna Umut Tuneli Gezi Rehberi
Saraybosna Umut Tuneli Kolar Ailesi
The house of the Kolar family, one end of the tunnel of hope

A Highly Spiritualized War Museum

After the war, the tunnel fell into disrepair. The tunnel disintegrated due to flooding and was lost over time. The part that can be visited today is the part that could be saved. The Kolar family did their best not to forget those who lost their lives and the war. When you enter the museum, you first enter a video room that tells the history of the tunnel for a few minutes. Make sure you watch this video. You will learn what you are visiting. At the same time, after visiting a photo gallery taken at that time, you go to the war museum and tunnel. The Dobrinja side of the tunnel leads between the houses on the other side of the airport. The mouth of that tunnel has been closed, but even if you can’t enter it, it is worth seeing from a spiritual point of view.

Saraybosna Umut Tuneli Gezilecek Yerler
Sarajevo Attractions - Tunnel of Hope

What are the entrance fee and opening hours of Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope?

Hope Tunnel visiting hours are 09:00 – 17:00 in summer season and 09:00 – 16:00 in winter season. Entrance fee. You should carry BAM with you as they do not accept credit card or Euro payments.

Where is Sarajevo Hope Tunnel? How to get there?

Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope is located a bit far from the city center, very close to Sarajevo International Airport. To get to Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope from the center of Sarajevo, you need to use connecting trams and buses. From the city center, for example from Skenderija Terminus stop, you should take Ilidža tram line number 6 and from Ilidža terminal you should take line 32a and get off at Donji Kotorac Okretnica stop. Then you can walk parallel to the airport and reach the tunnel. You can reach the tunnel from the city center in 1h or 1h 15min.

If you are traveling by private car, there are paid parking lots near the tunnel. For a small fee you can park your car all day long, but of course you should allow maximum 2 hours to visit the museum/tunnel.