Explore this Abandoned Olympic Bobsled Track in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Here’s a trio of attributes that I’d never expect to belong to a single entity – a feature of the Olympic Games, a war artillery tool and finally, a victim of reclamation by nature. Such is the story of the Olympic Bobsled track located in Sarajevo, whose battle scars are reminiscent of its former glory.
A little history about the place: the bobsled track was built in 1984 to host the Olympic bobsleigh and luge segments back in 1984. It was also used for multiple World Cup and national competitions from 1983 to 1992. It’s not difficult to imagine the track at its peak of splendour, complete with athletes roaring down on nifty tube-like sleighs at 140 kilometres per hour; close your eyes and you might even hear echoes of cheers and whistles.
However, life took a tragic turn for the worse in 1992. The Bosnian War started in 1992, putting a stop to all fun and games. The war lasted till 1995 and took more than 100, 000 lives, reducing more than half the population to refugees. As the bobsled track was located high above the city and comprised 13 turns in total, it made for the perfect artillery position for the Serbian forces during the war. The marks of war are still evident today, with the bobsled track peppered with multiple bullet holes and artillery windows.
Now, the 1300-metre long bobsled track is abandoned, overrun by the forces of nature. In summer, you’d find a mossy vista amidst numerous graffiti murals; in winter, it transforms into a magical winter wonderland. Above all, it becomes a playground for the adventurous.
Take your time to navigate the many twists and turns, and take many photos along the way!
You’ll feel like an intrepid explorer foraging your way through tall snow-laden trees.
I visited during the month of January, where there was heavy snowfall. The snow even came up to above our ankles!
It’s easy to get to the bobsled track – a cable car runs from Sarajevo every day from 10am to 7pm. A return ticket costs KM20 (~SGD16), with a one-way ticket costing KM15 (~SGD12).
The ride only takes about 10 to 15 minutes, offering splendid views all the way.
From the cable car station at the top, simply follow the trail downhill and you’d soon spot the bobsled track on the left side of the road. There are also various hiking trails in the area. If you bought a return cable car ticket, do note that you’ll have to embark at the same station where you disembarked. The bobsled track runs downhill, so you’d have to come back the same way again.
Alternatively, you can walk down the bobsled track all the way back to Sarajevo. However, do keep track of your timing – there aren’t any lights along the way and it’d be too dangerous to only be halfway down when the sun starts to set. In addition, do take caution not to wander off established paths; the hillside is said to still be littered with multiple unexploded mines. After all, the Bosnian War didn’t occur that long ago!
It’s sad to see how Sarajevo was ravaged by the Bosnian War – but the recovery of the city simply emphasises how peace is a luxury that everybody has a part in maintaining. The Olympic bobsled track is an important facet of the city’s history and certainly makes for a unique place to visit.