Lonely Planet Writer

A hostel in Sarajevo simulates experience of life during the Bosnian War

A family-run hostel in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina, is offering visitors the opportunity to live like civilians in a war zone.

A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo
A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo

Those staying at the War Hostel Sarajevo will enjoy the unique experience of tasting life as it was for Sarajevans during the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995.

A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo
A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo

Hostel owner Arijan Kurbasic (25), calls himself Zero One, the wartime code name used by his father who was a soldier in the Bosnian Army. Zero One greets guests wearing a helmet and a flak jacket.

A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo
A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo

He hosts an insightful talk inside a bunker, and describes his life, the war, the post war, his perspective and the impact the war had on his life and his family.

A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo
A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo

Over 100,000 people were killed during the war, 11,541 of them in Sarajevo. The war unfolded after Yugoslavia fell apart and its republics declared independence one after the other. Sarajevo’s 380,000 people were left without food, electricity, water or heating, as they hid from snipers and shells fell around them.

A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo
A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo

Guests at the hostel in Sarajevo sleep in rooms or dorms on sponge mattresses under military blankets. There are plastic sheets on the windows, like the ones given to Sarajevans so they could replace the glass shattered by the force of the bombs.

A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo
A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo

There is just one bulb on the ceiling in each room, running on a car battery, and at night, guests use candles to read and move around the hostel. A tape of the bombs exploding outside plays all night long, and documentaries about the war are watched inside the bunker.

A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo
A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo

The walls are decorated with wartime newspaper articles depicting the daily struggle in besieged Sarajevo. While it wouldn’t be for everyone, guests who have stayed at the hostel appreciate the intensity of the war simulation.

A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo
A hostel in Sarajevo simulates an experience of life during the Bosnian War. Image: War Hostel Sarajevo

They see it as an opportunity to experience a taste of history rather than merely reading about it in books.

For further information on Sarajevo War Hostel, see here.