Before the war, the multicultural city of Mostar was one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country. During the Balkans war, Mostar was the most heavily bombed Bosnian city. Now, Mostar suffers a geographical division of ethnic groups: the Bosniaks on the east and the Croats on the west.
Mostar has been rebuilt beautifully since the war, and the Old Town which surrounds the bridge is nowadays full of souvenir shops, restaurants, handicraft shops, kiosks and cobbled streets such as kujundziluk. Although Mostar has been reconstructed, the 18 months sieged city still shows signs of war, and bullet ridden walls can still be seen. There are some beautiful buildings such as the gym and the city baths that were constructed in the Austro Hungarian times.
THE OLD BRIDGE (STARI MOST)
This Ottoman bridge is Mostar’s most notable architectural landmark. Mostar comes from the word Mostari, which means “Bridge Keeper”.
The original bridge was constructed in 1557 to replace an older wood suspension bridge. It took 9 years to be finished. It was destroyed on the 9th November 1993, when the Croatian forces bombarded the bridge, causing the bridge to collapse into the river below.
The bridge was rebuilt by hand in 2004 with funds from UNESCO, the UN, the World Bank and several European countries including Croatia and Turkey. They used traditional methods and the same materials that had been used in the bridge´s original construction.
The bridge, symbolises the union between the two cultures in the city, the Catholic Croats in the west and the Muslim Bosniaks in the east of the Neretva River. It is 28 metres long and 24 metres high.
There are two towers on each side of the bridge. One of them, the Tara Tower, is the “Old Bridge Museum” nowadays. If you want to learn more about the history of the bridge, do not hesitate to have a look inside, as this museum is really interesting.
Since 1664, men dive off the bridge. It became a tradition, and nowadays you can see young men collecting some money from tourists before jumping into the cold waters of the Neretva river. The city holds a formal diving competition.
Čardak is a small white coloured cube shape house located at the western entrance to the Stari Most. This little house is decorated with Turkish tables and cushions and traditional rugs. In summer, this is a nice spot to enjoy a Turkish tea or a Bosnian coffee while you enjoy the nice views of the bridge below.
KOSKI MEHMED PASHA MOSQUE
This is a small beautiful Ottoman mosque which was built in 1618. The minaret was destroyed in the war in 1993, and the roof dome was damaged. This is the only mosque in Mostar where the original colors, wall decorations and ornaments have been preserved. To access the Mosque, you will be asked to cover up. If you do not have clothes with you to cover yourself, you can borrow shawls in the entrance. You can keep your shoes on. If you want to have amazing views over Mostar, take the effort to climb up the narrow staircase in the minaret to enjoy the incredible views from the top. Next to the Mosque, there is a small cemetery, a garden and fountain taps. There is also a nice Turkish cafe called Koski Basta Caffe where you can enjoy a delicious Turkish tea or coffee and enjoy the incredible views.
Biscevic house is one of the three Mostar’s traditional Turkish-style homes. It was constructed in 1635 and it is located near the Karadjoz Beg Mosque. Inside the house, you will be able to see traditional rugs, beds, clothes and household stuff from the Ottoman period. Downstairs in the courtyard, there is a kitchen and a fountain.
This National Monument and museum is from the second half of the 18th century. It is located near the Karadoz – Bey’s Mosque, and is considered as the perfect example of residential architecture from the Ottoman period in the Balkans. The house comprises a residential building, a courtyard for women called haremluk and a courtyard for men called selamluk.
THE FORMER FRONT-LINE
The old front line runs along a main boulevard called Bulevar Revolucije, which is parallel to the river. In 1993 Mostar was divided in two, Croats on the Western side and Bosniaks on the Eastern side. The distance between one side and the other was 5 meters. On this street you can still see many damaged and ruined buildings which were heavily bombed during the war.
THE SNIPER TOWER
The Sniper Tower used to be a bank. In the war, the Croats and Serbs took it over and they used this building as a base for snipers to hide in the tower and aim their targets from there.
Nowadays, the tower is decorated with street art. People can explore its floors and enjoy the view of Mostar from the top floor. The best time to go is around sunset.
The word čaršija means market or bazaar. This oriental bazaar in Mostar is located in the surroundings of the Stari Most. There are plenty of things you can find in this market, such as glass lamps, copper work, Bosnian rugs, souvenirs, tablecloths, handmade jewellery, paintings and decorated plates.
THE NERETVA RIVER
The Neretva River is the largest river in the eastern side of the Adriatic. It is 225 km length. Its colour changes with the weather but it usually has a beautiful emerald green colour. Its waters are very cold (just for you to imagine, it can be 7 degrees Celsius in summer.) If you are in Mostar during the summer months, it is nice to sit by the water in the cafes, enjoy an ice cream or refresh yourself by dipping your feet into the water.
KRIVA CUPRIJA (CROOKED BRIDGE)
This small version of the Stari Most was built in 1558 by Cejvan Kethoda, a Turkish architect. It was made before the construction of the Stari Most, just to test the designs credibility. It is so well made that if no one knew the real reason, no one could tell it was just a test. This bridge was damaged during the war, then the floods of December 2000 destroyed it, and in 2001 it was fully reconstructed after being financed by Luxembourg.
NEW MUSLIM CEMETERY
Before, it used to be a park, but it was turned into a cemetery during the war in 1993. It was decided to bury the dead in this place because this park was protected by trees, so relatives and visitors would not be visible to snipers. Most of the tombstones are sadly dated 1993, 1994, or 1995.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN MOSTAR
There are two bus stations in Mostar. The main bus station is on the east side (Ivana Krndelja bb Square), in the Bosniak and Muslim part of the city. The other station is on the west side (Vukovarska bb), Croats side, around 20 minutes walk from the city.
There are daily buses to nearby villages and towns covered by “MostarBus” routes. Other bus companies offer lines to most of the cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to other countries such as Croatia, Serbia or Montenegro.
The train station is located next to the East side bus station, around 5 minutes walk from the city centre.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
– National Restaurant Cevabdzinica Tima – Irma. Onescukova bb, Mostar, +38766905070
– Sadrvan. Jusovina 11, Mostar,+38761891189
– Hindin Han. Jusovina bb, Mostar, +38736581054
– Konoba Taurus. Kriva Cuprija 4, Mostar, +38736580809
– Palma, Alekse Šantića 13, Mostar, +387 36 580-465. Great place for cakes and ice creams.
– Ali Baba’s Cave (Pećina). Bar in Kujundžiluk, Mostar. The lounge was built directly in a cavern.
– Studio Lounge, Bar in M. Balorde (Old town). Open-air bar on top of a high building with jazzy/world music and a great view over the town.