To a passerby, the Sarajevo Rose might look like the mistake of a painter or construction worker that needs to come back and finish the job. However, the truth behind the scarred pavements in Sarajevo, of which there are roughly 20 remaining, is much darker.
During the Bosnian War, which spanned the years 1992-1995, Sarajevo was hit with an average of over 300 mortar shells every single day. The record for single day shelling was set on July 22, 1993, when 3,777 shells were fired into Sarajevo. The Sarajevo Roses are quite literally the mortar patterns that were left in the ground from the shelling that took place when the city was under siege during the war. In spots where more than one or more casualty occurred, the shells, often with patterns resembling that of a floral arrangement, was filled in with red resin to signify that it was a place of death. Hence, the birth of the Sarajevo Rose.
While the Sarajevo Rose is a beautiful and raw reminder of what happened here some twenty odd years ago, it has come to my attention (through a quick search of Google about the topic) that many survivors of the Bosnian War wish for all of the Roses to be replaced. They believe the fact they’re used as a tourist attraction cheapens part of the authenticity and meaning of the tragic events that took place in order for these Sarajevo Roses to exist. As someone who understands their significance, it is easy to understand why survivors want the city rid of them. There is a lack of regard for these places as memorials, and when they are regarded, it is usually for a photo opportunity.
Over the years, the asphalt has been replaced throughout the city; maybe just for routine road repairs, but also maybe to keep the memories of the loved ones who died on those spots untouched by the eyes of a bystander. Some of the Roses will never be paved over, especially the one that is encased in glass at the Markale Market, which signifies the death of 68 civilians in an attack that took place in 1994 (1994 Markale Market Massacre).
It’s always a surprise, yet sobering moment when you stumble across a Rose you had not yet seen. With most of them paved over in the last few years, I hope that some remain so that more people can become educated on the history of the Siege of Sarajevo, which was a vital part of the Bosnian War.