Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Sarajevo Brewery

Yesterday Landy and I went in search of the Sarajevo Brewery. We had already sampled some of this great local beer (pivo) and had heard that it was worth a visit.

Today the Sarajevo Brewery is a showpiece of restoration and reconstruction. It is one of the more beautiful buildings in the city with a painted fa├žade and colorful banners adorning the front. Inside, a portion of the building contains a large beer hall and restaurant. Not as large as some of the famous beer halls of Munich, it’s still a huge, two storied room with a brick, barrel vaulted ceiling and beautiful, wrought iron chandeliers and light fixtures. On the entry level the tables sport red-checked table cloths; upstairs the tables have white linen. They brew two beers – dark and light; light meaning the color of the beer, not that it was (horrors!) low-cal. Fresh from the source, both were wonderful!

The brewery also figured prominently during the siege of Sarajevo. The city’s water system was destroyed early in the war. With no running water, the citizens did what they could by collecting rain water and melting snow. But the brewery sits over an underground lake and had its own well, so it became the primary source of clean water for most of the citizens in Sarajevo. This also made it a target for snipers and shelling.

One of Sarajevo’s famous “roses” is alongside the Brewery wall here. The roses have “bloomed” in places where a large shell killed a large number of civilians  - often waiting in lines for water, bread or food. The shell craters were filled in with a special red waxy-like substance, creating a red “rose” to commemorate their deaths. Wreaths have also been left at the Brewery, perhaps by family members  in honor of a loved one who perished there.