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Copyright © by Alan Grant
Orthodox and Catholic cathedrals (curvy and pointy respectively)

Sarajevo has been marked by the builders of three eras. Ottoman Sarajevo survives in the great mosques and alleyways of Baščaršija. The Austro-Hungarian city extends along the river and westwards while Yugoslav Sarajevo exists in the blocks and hosing developments, which stretch west again just as the buildings of the pre-1918 city begin to peter out.

The colossal investment in the industrial base in the late 1940s, coupled with the gradual rise in consumer spending, powered economic growth in the 1950s at a rate unprecedented in Sarajevo's history and unparalleled in most cities of the world. Personal income rose 11 percent annually between 1952 and 1964. In 1948, 72 percent of the population of Bosnia-Herzegovina lived in rural communities; that number fell to 36.6 percent by 1971.

As a result, the most conspicuous transformation in the Sarajevo cityscape was the rise of ubiquitous high-rise residential complexes. Drawn by the city's disproportionate economic benefits, better living conditions, and urban cultural life, immigrants came to the city from both the countryside and other towns. Many high-rises were built in the spirit of a master design used throughout Yugoslavia, and costs were carefully controlled. One pundit dubbed these structures "Tito Baroque."

The Bosnian war and the siege of Sarajevo lasted from 1992 until 1995. Since 1996 the big challenge has been reconstruction and rebuilding an identity for a city that is among Europe's most fascinating in a post-war Bosnia uncertain about its own future.

To find out more about the history of this town visit Donia's Sarajevo (picture story).

February 2007

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