The 700m tunnel dug from the outskirts to the city centre was the saviour of Sarajevo during the 1992-95 siege, an artery through which food, ammunition and manpower travelled. Without it the Bosnians couldn’t have survived the attack by Serbian nationalists. Given its importance, the house near the city airport where the tunnel starts seems strangely unassuming.

As we approach, three of the Kolars, the family who lent their home for the cause, are digging. It looks an historical re-enactment, but the truth is less dramatic: Edis Kolar, his mother and his grandfather are sorting out their blocked drains. Behind them, one of the two rooms they’ve transformed into a museum is water-logged, meaning anyone wanting to see their collection of newspaper cuttings and war paraphernalia would need wellies.

In contrast to the years when the tunnel was often negotiated in waist-deep water (while electrical wires ran overhead), the 20m which remains open for the public has escaped the flood. Exploring it is still unpleasant. It’s dark and musty smelling, the floorboards are uneven and you have to duck to miss the metal poles overhead.

Upstairs a video shows footage of the war which killed 11,000 Sarajevans. Men and women emerge from the tunnel exhausted and grabbing cups of water, Reebok-wearing soldiers sprint off to the front-line and bombs shatter and explode over the city, wreaking havoc which is still visible today.

The main road into the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina was renamed Sniper’s Alley during the war, when to drive down it was to risk your life. It’s flanked by gutted buildings pock-marked with shell-fire, but the new Holiday Inn stands out, a bright yellow beacon for the now peaceful city.

Just as the tunnel, a once-crucial lifeline, is now a museum, so too have the people of Sarajevo moved on 10 years later. There’s still a risk of landmines in the mountains but at its heart, the city is a safe, bustling metropolis.

I meet Mustafa, a local guide, on Bascarsija (nicknamed Pigeon Square) for a coffee. served on a copper tray in a little pot with a piece of Turkish delight. It’s the perfect introduction to the Turkish Quarter. Outside pigeons flutter around an Ottoman fountain and stalls overflow more coffee sets, jewellery and other saleable artefacts. Narrow streets lead off in all directions, hiding restaurants, more cafés, and a glittering bazaar. Mosques and minarets spike the sky, and the mountains, the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics, rise up into the distance.

As a member of a folk-band, Mustafa travels a lot outside Sarajevo but, he says, he always loves coming home. Given the setting, it seems obvious why, but I ask anyway and he responds, grinning, I love this city. It’s full of party animals and coffee freaks.”

With my head aching from the night before and my hands clutching the third coffee of the day (it’s 11am), it’s hard to disagree.

The man responsible for the hangover is the proprietor of Bosnian House. Welcoming us into his restaurant with the fateful words, “our portions equally invite and challenge our guests,” Sodik had plied us with shots of local spirit sljivovica while regaling us with tales of his country. “We’re all Bosnians. Three religions, one country. My wife is Catholic and I’m Muslim. Who cares?” he boomed, gesturing to a glamourous woman in the corner who we discovered later was Bosnia’s No.1 pop star.

Walking from the cosy walkways of the Old Town to the grand, marble boulevards of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo, the ethnic mix is everywhere. Down one street you pass a Catholic cathedral, Orthodox church, mosque and synagogue to finish at, appropriately, the Eternal Flame which commemorates the unity of the Serbs, Croats and Muslims during World War II. During the siege there wasn’t enough gas to keep it running. Now, the homeless brew coffee over it.

Back along Ferhadija, the spine of the city, Sarajevans duck into designer boutiques, linger in coffee houses or loiter on Liberation Square (Trg Oslobodenja). Not many people seem to notice the small holes in the road filled with red cement.
These so-called Sarajevo roses can be found throughout the city. They mark massacre sites, where large groups of civilians were murdered by Serbian criminals. That passersby don’t stop and stare isn’t the point, Mustafa tells me. What matters is that they’re there to stay. “It’s important to forgive but not forget,” he says, suddenly serious. “Otherwise we haven’t learned anything. We can’t let it happen again.””