It was built by the Bosnian Army in an effort to link the neighbourhoods of Dobrinja and Butmir in Sarajevo. The tunnel was used for the safe and secret passage of food, war supplies and humanitarian aid into the city. It also allowed for people to secretly get out. It quickly became the only way to bypass the international arms embargo and get weapons into the city in an effort to defend itself.
Building work began in 1993 on the secret tunnel linking two neighbourhoods, one from inside the Serbian siege lines and the other on the outside. It passed underneath the airport of Sarajevo, controlled by the UN. The Bosnian Army began the construction despite a lack of skills and tools. They worked in shifts so that construction occurred 24hrs a day.
Financed by the City of Sarajevo and installed with a pipeline to deliver oil to the city as well as electricity and communication cables donated by Germany to provide essential communication for Sarajevan’s.
The tunnel was completed in June 1993 and operational by 1st July.
The tunnel averaged 1.5m in height and 1m wide. It runs 960 meters in length.
The entrance from Dobrinja was through the garage of an apartment building and in Butmir the entrance to the tunnel was via the cellar of a house belonging to the Kolar family.
The tunnel provided a way of getting supplies and communication to the areas cut off by the siege of Sarajevo by the Serbian Army.
Fuel, food, news, communication, cigarettes, weapons and people were traded through the tunnel. It is estimated that over 3000 Bosnian soldiers and 30 tons of supplies passed through the tunnel every day.
The Sarajevo Tunnel Museum or Muzej sarajevskog tunela, is a private museum standing in the place of the Kolar family house in Butmir. Today it serves as a reminder of the tragedies of the recent past, allowing visitors to walk through the preserved section of the tunnel. In 2013 the tunnel was ceremoniously handed over as the ‘Tunnel of Hope’ to be managed by the Canton of Sarajevo for the ‘construction and preservation of the cemeteries of fallen soldiers memorials and memorials to the victims of genocide, or simply Memorial Fund’.
It has become one of the most visited sites in Sarajevo. Here you will find a vast collection of documentation and archives or a ‘collective memory’ to present historical fact to visitors.