Written by manatwork on 18 May, 2011
Mostar was named after "the bridge keepers" who guarded the Stari Most (Old Bridge) over Neretva River. I came here for one reason: to see the Stari Most. The iconic bridge was heavily damaged in 1993, and fully reconstructed in 2004. When I arrived at…Read More
Mostar was named after "the bridge keepers" who guarded the Stari Most (Old Bridge) over Neretva River. I came here for one reason: to see the Stari Most. The iconic bridge was heavily damaged in 1993, and fully reconstructed in 2004. When I arrived at the bus station, I was approached by a few middle-aged ladies asking if I needed a place to stay. I checked out a place which was just near the station. The lady, Maida rented her rooms out in her 3-bedroom apartment. The place turned out really nice and clean, and it cost €15 a night. Time was 5 pm., and the sun was still shining brightly. I decided to take a walk. As I was walking on Bulevar Revolucije (Revolution Boulevard) toward the Old Town, I came across empty buildings which were bombarded with firepower during the Bosnian War. It was quite an eerie feeling looking at the thousands of marks still left on the walls. They are a reminder to us all the effects and consequences coming from war. After the war, most were either rebuilt or restored with contribution from an international committee established by UNESCO. Mostar has long been known for its old Turkish houses and Stari Most. And, I could see a coexistence of diverse culture, ethnic and religious communities living together here. There is even a China shop here as well. The next day I went to Old Town once again. I came across a smaller version of the Old Bridge. It is said that it was a test before the major construction of Stari Most began. On Stari Most, I could see divers getting ready to dive. But wait! They are teasing the onlookers! They'll jump only when there's a huge crowd and don't forget to tip them cause it's customary. There's an Old Bazaar, Kujundziluk, which is named after the goldsmiths who traditionally created and sold their wares on the street, and today, you can still see them selling authentic paintings and copper or bronze carvings of the Stari Most. But unfortunately, the local artisans take so much pride on the bridge that most souvenirs have images of the bridge on them. I went to the Old Bridge Museum, and took a panoramic view from the top. I enjoyed myself with a cup of tea, and then I headed to the Main Bus Station for my last destination in Croatia, Dubrovnik. It cost 28 kuna ($6) for a 3 hour ride. Close
Written by fizzytom on 30 Jun, 2010
I remember seeing, as a child, a photograph showing daring young Yugoslav men jumping from a bridge into impossibly blue water below. It struck me as very exciting and must have made quite an impression on me as I told myself that one day I…Read More
I remember seeing, as a child, a photograph showing daring young Yugoslav men jumping from a bridge into impossibly blue water below. It struck me as very exciting and must have made quite an impression on me as I told myself that one day I would see it for myself. The bridge was in Mostar which is now in the independent country of Bosnia and Herzegovina; more specifically, it is the regional capital of the province of Herzegovina in the south west of the country. There is a bridge there today but it is not the original; that was blown up by a Croatian rocket during the Bosnian war but after the war it was rebuilt, partly using the original materials which fell into the gorge below. In the summer of 2009 I was able to visit this city I had longed to see for so many years and found a small but charming place that has so much more to offer than just this famous bridge.Mostar was the first call on our brief tour of Bosnia; we came by bus from the Croatian coastal city of Split. As the crow flies the distance is not great but the mighty Dinaric Alps form a barrier between the two and this makes the journey duration much longer. We left Split at 6.00am which was not ideal but the journey took three and a half hours whereas the 9.00am coach journey took over five hours. Due to the geography it’s not possible to make this journey by train. If you are coming from the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, the journey takes approximately three hours. Train travel is possible but takes much longer and unfortunately we did not have enough time for that luxury. We stayed on until the final stop as we figured we could get our bearings better by locating the bus station on the map and working from there. The bus station was only half built, or perhaps it was half demolished. Judging by our small Lonely Planet map we hadn’t been dropped at the main station. We started walking and tried to find a landmark but within minutes we were approached by an elderly man who offered us a room and he showed us on the map that it was close to the Old Town of Mostar and very close to the main bus station which would be useful for our departure. He was a Professor of Engineering at the University and he rented out several rooms in a rambling house on a quiet street. It was very basic but clean and comfortable with our own bathroom. Before we went out to explore, our host kindly made us Bosnian coffee (similar to the Turkish was of serving it) and presented us with a plate of sweet grapes from his own vines. Later we had figs from the garden too. Close
Most tourists come for the day from the coastal resorts of Croatia and even Montenegro; others come from the capital. I believe you can also do a half day trip from the coast in combination with a half day in Medjugorje (a famous pilgrimage sight…Read More
Most tourists come for the day from the coastal resorts of Croatia and even Montenegro; others come from the capital. I believe you can also do a half day trip from the coast in combination with a half day in Medjugorje (a famous pilgrimage sight thanks to an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1981). One day is sufficient to see the main sights and get a feel for the Old Town. This can easily include going inside some of the wonderful buildings of the old town. Organised trips from the coast tend to be quite structured but do take in the main sights; if you are an independent visitor you can book a walking tour through the tourist information centre or with one of the countless companies with offices in the Old Town. A word of warning: Mostar does not lend itself to bus or car tours as the main sights are within the virtually traffic free centre, and the streets are not only cobbled but cobbled with very slippery stone. Flat comfortable shoes are a must and even then you should expect to slip a couple of times.Most of the attractions are situated on the left (and historically Muslim) side of the river Neretva which cuts through the city. The river is an essential part of Mostar’s history and the very reason for its importance as a trading centre. The Herzegovina region enjoys long (often very) hot summers and is surrounded by rocky mountains which make conventional agriculture quite difficult. Fortunately the people of Mostar were talented craftsmen and the well-made items created in Mostar were at the heart of the town’s development. The main trades were those of the coppersmith, the tanner and the tailor. Even now, leather and copper items are highly regarded products in Mostar and Bosnia generally and you may see people with simple stalls laden with handmade copper items by the edge of the road in even the most remote villages. Today the coppersmiths still work (and sell their goods) from tiny workshops in a little street in the Old Town called "Kujundziluk" (literally ‘coppersmiths’). Tanning no longer takes place here (as the tanning process makes a horrible smell I can’t say I mind) and the little shops that were once occupied by tanners are now little Turkish-style cafes with low seating and ornate carpets where you can be served Bosnian coffee (This street is known as "Tabhana" – ‘Tanners’). There are several interesting mosques in and close to the Old Town but we visited only one on this visit and this is the one most tourists are likely to visit because it has been given the status of National Monument and opened up to the public in order to demonstrate the rich heritage of Islamic architecture and design. I always carry a scarf in places where I may enter a mosque or Orthodox church but I suspect most female visitors don’t, so I think it’s a great opportunity to see inside a mosque when usually it may not be possible. This mosque is the "Koski Mehmed pasha’s mosque"; is quite small but it has the usual features found in all mosques so it is a good example of what to expect. Furthermore, and most thrillingly for me as I have often wished it possible, you may climb the minaret from where you will get the best possible view of the Old Bridge. Not far away we visited the "Biscevica" or Turkish House, a well-preserved house from the Ottoman period with magnificent views over the Neretva. There are three rooms containing original furnishings and lots of images of Ottoman Mostar. There was no guide and no literature to take you through the exhibits but it was certainly worth seeing at least for the richness of the exhibits. After your short tour you can take a glass of tea in the courtyard, sitting on low wooden benches around the fountain. The highlight of a trip to Mostar is the Old Bridge (I intend to write about it more fully in a separate piece). The bridge has a very simple design and you’d be over it in a matter of seconds if it wasn’t for the arresting views up and down river. If you have time, I’d advise going down to the waters edge to get a view from the canyon too. As I said at the beginning I hoped for many years that one day I’d see someone dive from the bridge and while we were eating lunch near the bridge – but sadly not within sight of it – we could hear that some young men had been jumping. After lunch we went to the river’s edge and after a while we were rewarded with just one jump which – I am disappointed to reveal – was missed by my travelling companion; he’d offered to take the shot to enable me to watch properly and, alas, failed to catch the diver mid-air. We made two more trips to the bridge that afternoon in the hope of seeing more diving and possibly taking a better picture but we weren’t able to see anymore and there are no set times. Most tourists will only see one side to Mostar as the tour coaches deposit them close to the Old Town. As tourism is so important to the city, it’s not surprising that work should have concentrated on getting the Old Town looking good for visitors. However, you don’t have to step far away from the Old Town to see evidence of the war. On the street where we were staying there were abandoned houses riddled with bullet holes, some daubed with graffiti so you could tell exactly who had occupied this house before the war. "Bulevar Street" was the front line during the war and this is one of the most damaged areas; here renovation isn’t happening so quickly as in the Old Town. The Left Bank with its Ottoman bazaar, mosques and Turkish style houses (there are several worth seeing) is very charming but I liked the other side of the river just as much. This is modern Mostar and it’s very much a "Soviet" city here. My favourite sight was the Partisan Memorial, dedicated to those who died defending Mostar during the Second World War. The cemetery in which the monument stands was badly damaged during the later war and you can still see some evidence of this. I read that of all Bosnian cities, the people of Mostar did not notice their differences prior to the war; indeed, they felt united by coming from this beautiful city rather than by their nationality or religion. It seemed very poignant to visit a monument that commemorated those who died defending Mostar, only to have the people it was done for divided fifty years later. As food is so cheap you will have money left for souvenirs. If you are so inclined you can buy lots of cheap rubbish, and some of it is quite pretty. However, you can buy some quality items such as the copperwares, rugs and some of the art work. Pomegranates – the national fruit of Bosnia and Herzegovina – are a popular subject matter but there are several talented artists painting lovely views of the city. In the evening, when the day trippers had gone back to Croatia, Mostar took on a new feeling. Families were out walking as they do every evening, window shopping, buying ice cream, chatting with friends in the streets. People seemed happy but the truth is that Mostar is a very poor city, in spite of the income from tourists. The man we stayed with has a good job but he still shares his house with strangers and he still had a car full of plastic bottles, no doubt to exchange for meagre amounts of cash at the Mercator supermarket. However, people are very friendly and helpful, more than you could ever expect of people who have suffered so badly. While it’s possible to see the highlights of Mostar in one day, you really ought to stay at least a night too to get a true picture. In Mostar, I found far more than a town based on one symbol. Mostar by far exceeded my expectations. Not only is the city rich in culture and history but it is located in what must rank as one of the most dramatically scenic parts of Europe. Sadly the Old Bridge only links the two banks of the Neretva physically these days; the truth is that the people of Mostar are quite bitterly divided. Before I visited I really only knew of the bridge and little else about the city; seeing the bridge destroyed during the war only increased my interest in visiting. However, on reflection, I’d say that Mostar is what it is in spite of the war, rather than because of it. Close
Written by nofootprint on 08 Aug, 2009
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…Read More
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 pastThis 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.Friendly facesWe 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 PeopleThe 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!! Close
Written by captain oddsocks on 11 Apr, 2007
The old front line of the Bosnian war is still very much in evidence in Mostar. Buildings along both sides of the wide avenue lie in ruins and their woeful condition is highlighted further by the contrast with the few structures that have been rebuilt.People…Read More
The old front line of the Bosnian war is still very much in evidence in Mostar. Buildings along both sides of the wide avenue lie in ruins and their woeful condition is highlighted further by the contrast with the few structures that have been rebuilt.People in Mostar talk about the first and second parts of the war. The first was when the Muslims and Bosnian Croats, their two flags knotted to symbolize unity, drove the Bosnian Serbs out of Mostar. In this part of the war, the front line had been the river itself, with the Bosnian Serbs occupying the east bank and the Bosnian Croats the west. The second part of the war was the conflict between Muslims and Croats. Muslims were disappointed that, despite a formal alliance signed by Croatian president Tudjman and Bosnian president Izetbegovic, the Croat forces were content with their victories in the west of the country and failed to help the Bosnian army with the liberation of Sarajevo. For their part, many Croats were suspicious about Muslim collusion with the Serbs in the earlier war for the independence of Croatia. Bosnian Croats considered Mostar their capital and when Muslims began to be removed from positions of importance within the city, the knotted flags began to unravel. With the influx of refugees, ethnically cleansed by the Serbs from their homes in the north and east of the country, the tensions boiled over into open conflict, with the Croats pushing the Muslims across to the eastern side of the Neretva. The front line fluctuated from the river to the nearby and parallel Dr Ante Starcevic Boulevard that shows the worst damage of the war to the present day. Buildings on both sides still show the ethnic symbols of the conflict; the blue and gold fleur-de-lis on the Bosnian side and across the street, the red and white Croatian checkerboard or the letters HVO (Croatian territorial defence). On the western side the catholic cathedral stands rebuilt in stark reinforced concrete with the height of its renewed bell-tower tripled in either (depending on your perspective) a proud, patriotic gesture of survival and defiance, or a childish one-upmanship over the highest minaret. A few other buildings have been rebuilt, but the overwhelming majority still show their wartime scars and the worst are just crumbling stone shells with window-sized gouges like the hollow eye sockets of a skull. Most of the buildings along here are two or three storeys at the most, but overlooking the square where local men play chess behind the memorial to Spanish peacekeepers, is a modern high-rise building of ten or twelve floors. It’s a particularly graphic reminder of just how recently this war was fought; you can find pictures of razed two-storey stone houses in books about the first and second world wars and see buildings of a similar size crumbling in poorer regions of many countries. A gutted Ferro-cement high-rise however is a rarer sight and must be the victim of a conflict both recent and major. Close
Written by captain oddsocks on 05 Mar, 2007
On Liberation Square in front of the orthodox cathedral, there’s a large chessboard painted onto the paving and unless it’s pouring rain, it’s likely to be surrounded by men playing chess.The usual scene as you approach the chessboard is the backs of thirty to fifty…Read More
On Liberation Square in front of the orthodox cathedral, there’s a large chessboard painted onto the paving and unless it’s pouring rain, it’s likely to be surrounded by men playing chess.The usual scene as you approach the chessboard is the backs of thirty to fifty men crowded around in a rough square, peering over each others’ shoulders for the best view of the board. Depending on the stage of the game and who’s playing, there might be tense concentration and quiet discussion, or there could be loud calling out of suggested moves and groans of disappointment when the suggestions are ignored. The banter can sound quite heated at times, but always seemed to be good-natured. At least it never came to blows while I was there, (I’m sure it would have in some other countries that I’ve visited-including my home country).I didn’t ever actually play a game; it seems the next competitors are chosen by popular demand from among the most verbose critics of the preceding game. That is, the crowd in general will call out two names “Šaško i Tabak, Šaško i Tabak!” in much the same tone as they’ve been using throughout the game for “Dame na Kun, Dame na Kun” (Queen takes the knight, Queen takes the knight). Then Šaško and Tabak will step up and play or glance at their mobile phones and make their excuses. This will go on ad nauseum until who knows what hour; one night we passed at about 11pm, and there were still a couple of diehards battling it out. I’m sure if I’d asked to play though, I’d have been welcomed, if for no other reason than the novelty value of playing an Australian who keeps trying to ask silly questions in Bosnian with a Czech accent.This might sound a bit nerdy, but hanging around by the chessboard was one the things I enjoyed most in Sarajevo. There’s a crowd of regulars and it doesn’t take long to know some of their names. Watching their interactions and especially their reactions to suggestions and criticism made for fascinating people-watching and it was the closest I thought I came to glimpsing a Bosnian national character. That’s a big claim, I know, but if such a thing as a national character exists, then a group of blokes cheering on some competitive event is as good a place as any to try to understand it. For example, imagine a group of thirty Italian men around a bocce pitch, thirty Japanese men around a Sumo ring and thirty Australian men around a pie throwing contest and you’ll certainly see some different characteristics that you can attribute to each nationality.Anyway, I liked it and it was a good fixed point to meet up if your travelling companion wanted to go off and look at shoes! If you understand and play chess, I highly recommend passing at least a short part of your stay with the chessmen of Sarajevo. Close
The two-hour walking tour that we did from the tourist information centre was very good and I would recommend it to anybody.We enquired in the morning and were told the tour begins each day at Noon (more frequently in the warmer months) and returned then.…Read More
The two-hour walking tour that we did from the tourist information centre was very good and I would recommend it to anybody.We enquired in the morning and were told the tour begins each day at Noon (more frequently in the warmer months) and returned then. (The price was 20KM/10 euros, payable in advance or upon completion). Once our entire group had assembled in front of the information office, we found a quiet place just around the corner, where the guide introduced himself as Muammar, explained the form the tour would take and asked if we had any questions.Having no questions, we proceeded to the first point of interest, which was the site on which Gavrilo Princip stood while he waited for his chance and then executed the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, nephew of the ruling Habsburg emperor Franz Josef, thus setting in motion (or accelerating) the chain of events which would soon lead to WWI. Princip is still sometimes referred to as the torch that ignited WWI and in the Yugoslav era the nearby ‘Latin bridge’ was named after him and he was considered a Serbian national hero. We then wound our way through the narrow cobblestoned backstreets of the city’s old Turkish quarter, Baščaršija. The streets here are lined by old ottoman low-roofed buildings of timber, brick, and terracotta. Most of the buildings were originally craftsmen’s workshops and this is reflected in the street names, Kazindžiluk being Coppersmith Street, for example. Most buildings now are retail shops, with the occasional restaurant, coffee shop or take-away food place mixed in. The overall effect is that of a gigantic mazelike market, with the shops’ wares spilling onto the street and the smell of grilled meat floating on the air. You can spend days wandering this part of town, but the walking tour passed through quite quickly.Our next stop was the mosque named after its founder Gazi Husrev Beg (1480-1541), who was the province’s first native-Bosnian Muslim governor. His contribution to the development of the city also included Europe’s first public toilets/ baths, a clock tower showing prayer times, the madrassa (high school) and the han (traveller’s inn and marketplace), which still has a huge store of Turkish-style carpets.From there we continued past the central monuments of the other major religions of Europe. The time allotted for the tour was drawing to a close, but Muammar made sure to take us past the synagogue and adjacent Jewish museum, which may have been difficult to find by ourselves. We had time to duck inside the catholic cathedral, before continuing on to liberation square, the orthodox cathedral and the end of the two-hour walking tour.We thanked Muammar and started back towards the old Turkish quarter to visit some of the sights in more detail, after finding the source of that delicious grilled meat smell, of course! Close
Written by billmoy on 24 Oct, 2003
When I mentioned to people that I was going to Sarajevo in May 2003, reactions ranged from "wow!" to "you're crazy". For many people, a mention of Sarajevo brings up war-torn imagery instead of glorious moments as the host city for the 1984 Winter Olympics.…Read More
When I mentioned to people that I was going to Sarajevo in May 2003, reactions ranged from "wow!" to "you're crazy". For many people, a mention of Sarajevo brings up war-torn imagery instead of glorious moments as the host city for the 1984 Winter Olympics. I wanted to spend a bit of time here to see how the city has been coping with its recent setbacks.
Sarajevo was a melting pot for many religious and ethnic groups for hundreds of years. Serbian aggression is said to have killed over 10,000 people here during the staggering siege from 1992 to 1996. The locals were able to endure this ordeal with a long tunnel constructed under the airport that was the lifeline from the city to a nearby suburb. Any random walk through the city will take you past many structures that have been damaged or annihilated. The National Library still stands empty and in a state of semi-disrepair along the Miljacka River, whose sludgy chocolate waters mock the brownish exteriors of this handsome Moorish-style edifice. Originally designed by Alexander Wittek in 1892 and later revamped by Ciril Ivekovic, the National Library was originally the Town Hall and is slowly being rehabbed.
Perhaps the most moving sight in Sarajevo is the graveyard that has taken over the landscape surrounding the Kosevo soccer stadium. It is sad to see thousands upon thousands of mostly whitewashed grave markers, a majority of them with the death year of 1992. A wander through the cemetery is a small history review, as you will see fancier older tombstones from previous generations, which contrast with the simpler, hastily erected ones of the more recent batches. In a close second place, the burnt-out shell of the former Parliament Building is a morbid and recent reminder of the ferocity of these dangerous times. Deserted hotels scattered about town are identifiable as such only because of outdoor signage, which distinguishes them from the ruins of residential blocks.
Despite the rough spots, it is heartening to see areas that are slowly recovering. The well-to-do members of the middle class appear as if they could be in any other European setting. The cafes and shops along Ferhadija, the main pedestrian street, look very lively as the young locals enjoy each other's company. A walk around busy thoroughfares like Marsala Tita and Zmaja Od Bosne ("Dragon of Bosnia") could lead you to giant chessboard matches, bustling fruit markets, and the somewhat sedate Eternal Flame commemorating World War II. The ethnic mix of Sarajevo is evident with the proximity of several prominent places of worship that cater separately to Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox Serbs, and Jews.
A walk through the Turkish quarter gives its trademark Muslim flavor to the city with its prominent mosques and shops. Most visitors are welcome to stop by, but some Muslims are still put off by those who dare to interact with the ritualistic fountains. Pop into the courtyard of the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque for a peek into local life. Designed by Persian architect Adzem Esir Ali in 1530, this important mosque has an attractive "birdcage" fountain in its courtyard. Muslims pray on the outdoor terrace, as the interior is still undergoing postwar renovations.
The beautiful mountain ranges contrast with the bleak and gray Skenderija quarter that is one of the few remaining venues from the 1984 Olympics. In the city center, umbrella salesmen pop out of the woodwork during downpours, although the local police seem to crack down on the more unsavory vendors. Speaking of security, soldiers from around the world still maintain positions in Sarajevo and elsewhere in Bosnia-Herzegovina. These peacekeepers reveal their ethnicities by their tongues and their flag-embossed uniforms. The international mix also includes humanitarian aid workers and the ever-present journalists.
Written by dangaroo on 13 Jan, 2009
Mostar, the biggest city in Herzegovina (the southern region of Bosnia-Herzegovina) has a tragic recent history. It's currently inhabited by a split mixture of Bosniaks and Croatians. Mostar is named after its well known bridge and the towers on either side (mostari), in 1993 the…Read More
Mostar, the biggest city in Herzegovina (the southern region of Bosnia-Herzegovina) has a tragic recent history. It's currently inhabited by a split mixture of Bosniaks and Croatians. Mostar is named after its well known bridge and the towers on either side (mostari), in 1993 the bridge was destroyed by the Croatian Army. I visited during the re-construction of the bridge, which has been completed since 2004/05(?).Due to Mostar's proximity to Croatia, there are many day-tripping tourists that visit it and whilst everyone is free to visit it, I feel that the in, out, quick walk round and some photos is less than the town deserves. I came there by bus from Sarajevo and found accomodation with one of the many "sobe grans" vying for my custom at the bus station (old ladies that rent out rooms throughout the Balkans). Mostar suffered badly in the war with 100,000 people being displaced and 1,600 being killed in 1992 by the Serbs. The Croat-Muslim federation managed to expel the Serbs only for a 2nd battle to break out when the Bosnian-Croatian Militia decided to take over the West Bank of the town. 3,000 people killed and a further 10,000 sent to concentration camps.The wounds of the war were still blatant, as they were all over much of Bosnia during my visit (2004), every third house had a "Warning! Keep Out! Unexploded Mines!" sign hanging from it and there was a heavy NATO presence still. Despite this it was Euro 2004 and I shared many a beer with the locals who were more than friendly and were able to muster more smiles than a great proportion of a lot of other people.You can't help but feel sad when visiting Mostar but it also has an undoubted charm to the old part of the town. There isn't an awful lot to do there, so I'm not really surprised people just make a day trip.Let's wish Mostar a good future! Close
Written by jorgejuan on 19 Jun, 2006
I had been in all ex-Yugoslavian countries twice, but that was long time ago, when they were all together. My travel in 2005 had the intention to know the present situation of every new republic.First I traveled for 29 euro by boat from Barcelona to…Read More
I had been in all ex-Yugoslavian countries twice, but that was long time ago, when they were all together. My travel in 2005 had the intention to know the present situation of every new republic.First I traveled for 29 euro by boat from Barcelona to Civitavecchia, near Rome, then by train to Bari and another boat to Dubrovnik, in Croatia. Then I went down to Montenegro until the border with Albania, and further to Ulcinj where one day later I took a bus to Pristina, in Kosovo.I continued to Macedonia, from where I catch a train to Belgrade. Night bus to Sarajevo, a few hours excursion to Pale, in Republic of Srpska, next day to Mostar, then I went back to Split, and bus to Istria (Pula). Finally, after weeks of vagabonding I left the country through Slovenia and entered back Italy. It was a marvelous trip. People everywhere treated me excellently. If I tell the truth, I did not find any difference in these countries and only regret that millions of peaceful people were compelled to a horrible war and now Yugoslavia is not united anymore. People are mixed up: Serbians married with Bosnians, girls with father from Novi Sad and mother from Ljubljana, etc. Everybody understands each other with their different Slavonic languages and dialects; the customs are similar, as their food, and their religions are respected. The journey to Pristine took me a whole night. In the control all the passengers showed a Kosovo United Nations passport. During the last part of the bus journey, already at down, I saw United Nations signs, cars, and foreign soldiers in their bases. From the bus terminal of Pristine I walked to see the main attractions, which are the market, cathedral, churches and mosques. People lead a normal life, just like in my hometown Barcelona, in Spain.Sarajevo was a city that I loved very much. It is beautiful and the market most exotic. Walking around the town I observed a sign: WELCOME TO THE REPUBLIC OF SRPSKA. I was amazed and asked the people. Some told me that it was nonsense, and that we were in Bosnia Herzegovina, but I decided to take a mini bus and get to a town seen from there, at about 5km from the sign. That town was Pale, and talking with the people I was told that Srpska is a different republic, not yet recognized by the United Nations, but their decision to separate from Bosnia was irreversible. The difference, I was told, was that the Srpska people are Orthodox Christians, and not Muslims. I visited the Cathedral and even had lunch there before returning to Sarajevo by a regular minibus. Of course, no borders or checkpoints and passport controls were required to me, I did not even saw any police men at the supposed "border".Mostar was my favorite town in ex Yugoslavia because of its eastern atmosphere. The famous bridge (most, in Slavonic languages, means bridge) has been reconstructed uniting the two communities living in both sides of the Neretva River, but at every side of it there was written a sign in English: DO NOT FORGET, and nearby a broken mortar. In Mostar you feel the eastern atmosphere. Have lunch in any of the many restaurants with terraces facing the river. People are friendly and prices are cheap.I specially liked the people. Noticing that I have Latin features in my face, they talked to me in Italian. A few times I was invited to have breakfast: in Skopje, because I had no local currency, in Belgrade and in Pale. People, by nature, are open and eager to be good, but unfortunately a few manipulate them and create in them hatred, to the point to convert peaceful people in beasts ready to kill his neighbor because he speaks a different language or follows a different religion. After studying the ex-Yugoslavian history and seeing the recent results in the new countries, one cannot refrain from asking: was it worth all these wars and the hundreds of thousands of people who died in them? I think no.