Mostar was named after its Old Bridge "Stari Most" It is such a historic city, dating back for hundreds of years. The Old Town has ancient cobblestone streets winding around and up and down the hills. Fortresses like stone buildings hug both sides of the Neretva River. There are lots of little tourist shops selling souvenirs, including some hand made copper ware, cheap quality trinkets and fabulous rugs. There is enough to entice even the most uninterested shopper.
The terrible past
This beautiful ancient city is so worn torn though. The war is over now for about 12 years but this area was so bombed and so destroyed, the people here are still a little shell-shocked. The younger ones told us of the years during the war when they spent their days in basements in fear for their lives. They don't believe the National idea is good and their is a rumble of decention between the right and left side of the famous bridge that tries to unite them.
We enjoyed our time so much here. We quickly were made to feel at home by the family we stayed with.. Locals at the bus stop met us and they kindly contacted the hostel where we were staying who rushed over immediately to walk us "home".
We met people on both side of the "bridge" and felt very welcome. We left with a hope in our hearts that their peace would continue to grow and sad memories would fade over time.
The Bridge and its People
The bridge in Mostar was originally built in the 16th century and spans the Neretva river in the old town of Mostar. The arch of the bridge was made of local stone known as tenelija. It is classed among the greatest architectural works of its time.
It is so beautiful! Locals and tourists enjoy strolling across the bridge all day long but its particularly amazing at sunset when the ancient old stone buildings are backlit.
Tragically on 9 November 1993 the bridge was completely destroyed by Croat forces, falling into the Neretva. It was rebuilt in 2004 in exact replica of the original . As many as possible of the original stones were salvaged for the project.
It is now listed as a World Heritage Site and stands as a symbol of peace and harmony.
Since the 1600's the young men of the town dive from the bridge into the ice cold water of the Neretva River. They once did it for a smile from a beautiful girl, now it is for 35Euro. When we left they were still perched on the edge of the bridge waiting for those tourist dollars!!
There are ancient stone steps down by the river. People sit there watching the bridge for potential divers. Some of the larger stones are no doubt from the remains of the blown up bridge.
Interestingly, the first person to jump from the bridge since it was re-opened was Enej Kelecija, a local who now resides in the United States.
Evidence of the war is still everywhere in Mostar . The former front line is in the middle of the town. This looked more like a movie set to our eyes, having never seen anything quite like it. People walked by going about their business, but the place had eeriness to it. Here and there, in bombed out apartment buildings, we would see an apartment with some planters on the caving balcony and signs that people were living amid the rubble!! The former front line runs along a main boulevard through West Mostar, parallel to the river. Most of the buildings on this street are completely destroyed or riddled with holes from the effects of heavy shelling. We wondered how the people could recover while seeing this destruction all around them still , 12 years later!!
Some of the most beautiful pictures I have of our trip were from Mostar. It is a truly memorable and beautiful city that grew in our hearts. I you are in the area, don't hesitate to visit!!