Saturday, 6 September 2014

Mostar and the Stari Most, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Since Bosnia and Herzegovina is so close to Dubrovnik, we took the opportunity 
to do a day trip to visit Mostar and the Stari Most, the old bridge and soak up a bit of history.
The old city of Mostar, divided by the crystal clear Neretva River, has long been a place of unity, 
with different religious and ethnic communities living in harmony. 
With Christians mainly on the right side of the river and the Muslims on the left, 
the Stari Most bridge united the two communities.

The UNESCO listed bridge linked the people for over 400 years before it was destroyed in 1993
by heavy shelling during the Yugoslavian wars. 

In October 1998 UNESCO established a committee to start reconstructing the bridge, using
the same local materials and technology to make it as close as possible to the original. 
Stones from the original bridge were recovered from the 
river below and were used in the reconstruction.
The new bridge was opened in 2004.

Funds to restore Mostar and the Stari Most were provided by Italy,
The Netherlands, Turkey and Croatia. The bridge uniting people once more.

Mostar has been bought back to life, the mosques and crosses once again dot the 
landscape. The colourful and vibrant bazaar linking the two sides of the river once more.

Diving off the Stari Most has been a mid summer tradition for centuries,
a rite of passage for the young men of Mostar. The 478 years of tradition can now continue.
I remember the news footage of 1993 when the famous bridge was shot down
how heart wrenching it was to lose the link, the tradition.

The old bazaar that meanders through the town and over the bridge is full of old and new 
local treasures. You can really feel the Turkish influence when wandering through the streets.
I may have purchased a 60 year old coffee grinder.

Artisans still use techniques honed to perfection over time,
 creating beautiful, local souvenirs. 

Colourful stalls and restaurants selling local food line the 
cobbled streets.

We had a delicious lunch at a restaurant by the river with
great views of the mosques and the bridge.

We walked the streets and soaked up the colourful, lively atmosphere.

Some scars from the recent wars still remain, reminding us
of what has been accomplished by the people of Mostar in under twenty years. 
The people we met were bright and friendly and had put the past behind them. 
They should be proud of their city and the atmosphere they have rebuilt.

We had a remarkable day filled with history, beauty and resilient people.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is recovering, though the drive from Croatia shows that 
it will still take years for the country to be fully repaired. If you find yourself in the 
area it is well worth a visit and a day wasn't really long enough.
I am already planning a return trip where we will spend a few days exploring.

We drove from Dubrovnik to Mostar, which is a two and a half hour drive, though as Bosnia
is not yet a member of the EU, we had to pass through two border crossings on the way there and back. 
This added two hours each way to our day trip, so it's worth leaving early to get more time
in Mostar or to stop at interesting places along the way. Don't forget your passport!

The local currency is the Bosnian Mark, though in Mostar both the 
Croatian Kuna and the Euro are accepted.


  1. Wonderful travelogue. I saw something about this town recently on a Rick Steve's travel show here in the states. I wonder if I will ever get to the places you have been sharing about?

    1. Thank You Marcia! Mostar is a fabulous place to visit. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be moving to Germany and fitting in a day trip to Bosnia within a year I would have laughed, you just never know what is around the corner!