Mostar

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The city of Mostar is situated in a beautiful valley bedded between high mountains of Herzegovina. It is thanks to the river Neretva that Mostar was able to develop as a city in the desert-like landscape of Herzegovina.

Neretva’s size turned Mostar very early in to a trading centre of the region. What makes this city known is it’s famous bridge. The Old Bridge was built by the Ottoman empire in 1565. It was the great architect Mimar Hajrudin who had succeded with the impossible mission to cross the Neretva river with a single span stone bridge.

Mostar got its name after that same Bridge, or more precisely after the bridge keepers. They used to guard the bridge and were called “Mostari”, thereby the city got its name.  Mostar’s population in 2003 was 105,448. With its hot summers and mild winters, Mostar is also one of Europe’s sunniest cities.

Top sigrhts in Mostar:

Bridge in Mostar (Stari Most)

World-famous Stari Most (Old Bridge) is Mostar's indisputable visual focus. Its pale stone magnificently throws back the golden glow of sunset or the tasteful night-time floodlighting. The bridge's swooping arch was originally built between 1557 and 1566 on the orders of Suleyman the Magnificent. The current structure is a very convincing 21st-century rebuild following the bridge's 1990s bombardment during the civil war. Numerous well-positioned cafes and restaurants tempt you to sit and savour the splendidly restored scene. The bridge has always been Mostar's raison d'être. The 16th-century stone version replaced a previous suspension bridge whose wobbling had terrified tradesmen as they gingerly crossed the fast-flowing Neretva River. An engineering marvel of its age, the new bridge had long been the 'old' bridge when, after 427 years, it was pounded into the river during a deliberate Croat artillery attack in November 1993. Depressing footage of this sad moment is shown on many a video in Mostar. The laboriously reconstructed bridge reopened in 2004 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its 'bridge divers'.

Museum in Mostar (Kajtaz House)

Hidden behind tall walls, Mostar's most historic old house was once the harem section of a larger homestead built for a 16th-century Turkish judge. Full of original artefacts, it still belongs to descendants of the original family albeit now under Unesco protection. A visit includes a very extensive, personal tour. The roof was lost in wartime bombardments but otherwise the pretty, half-timbered structure has survived remarkably intact, including the bathroom boxes and the pebble-floored kitchen with meat-hanging beams. Sip homemade rose lemonade (2KM) or colourless brandy (2KM) in the shady courtyard with its vines and persimmon tree. Out of season getting in is hit-and-miss.

House in Mostar (Bišćevića Ćošak)

Built in 1635, Bišćevića Ćošak is a one of very few traditional Turkic-styled houses to retain its original appearance, albeit now with trinkets for sale and a fountain made of metal ibrik jugs. Three rooms are colourfully furnished with rugs, metalwork and carved wooden furniture. Spot the two tortoises. Afternoon light pours in through the upstairs balcony room whose audacious riverbank overhang is secured by long, concrete pillars beneath. For interesting comparisons also visit the grander Muslibegović House and arguably more authentic Kajtaz House.

Historic site in Mostar (Spanski Trg)

In the early 1990s, Croat and Bosniak forces bombarded each other into the rubble across a 'front line' which ran along the Bulevar and Alese Šantića St. Even now, several shell-pocked skeletal buildings remain in ruins around Spanski Trg, notably the triangular tower that was once Ljubljanska Banka but is now a concrete skeleton plastered with graffiti. In contrast the neo-Moorish 1902 Stara Gimnazija has been beautifully restored and painted vivid apricot-orange.

Area in Mostar (Trg Musala)

Trg Musala was once the heart of Austro-Hungarian Mostar. Today the square is a messy mishmash of architectural styles around a fountain garden. While the 1914 City Baths building has been restored close to its original glory, the ruins of the once-splendid 1892 Hotel Neretva teeter on the verge of collapse with damage inflicted during the 1990s conflict.

Museum in Mostar (MUM)

Strong on poetry, far less so on content, this 2014 museum has a dozen showcases of local crafts and five silent big-screen movies highlighting Hercegovina's scenic and cultural highlights. These are complemented by a hand-held speaker guide that weaves in explanations, myths and flowery inspirational eulogies to help you 'feel' a land that it describes as 'uncompromisingly lavish like the people that live there'.

Church in Mostar (Franciscan Church)

The Franciscan Church is a 2000 rebuild on the site of an 1866 original. Enter through the 'door of mercy' to see an interior that has a stark, concrete simplicity. Or climb 75m up Mostarski Zvonik Mira, the disproportionately tall campanile tower, for panoramic city views. A lift takes you more than half of that way saving 222 of the 370 steps.

Museum in Mostar (Hammam Museum)
This late-16th-century bathhouse has been attractively restored with whitewashed interior, bilingual panels explaining hammam (Turkish bath) culture and glass cabinets displaying associated traditional accoutrements. A wordless five-minute video gives a slickly sensual evocation of an imagined latter-day bathhouse experience.

Historic building in Mostar (Muslibegović House)

Ring the bell to be ushered into this walled Ottoman courtyard house, built in the late 17th century and extended in 1871. Its main function today is as an extremely charming heritage hotel, but several of the sitting areas are decorated with museum-like collections of artefacts and costumes.

Bridge in Mostar (Crooked Bridge)

Built as a miniature test run for Stari Most, the pint-sized Crooked Bridge crosses the tiny Rabobolja creek amid a layered series of picturesque millhouse-restaurants. The original bridge, weakened by wartime assaults, was washed away by 2000 floods, but rebuilt a year later.

Mosque in Mostar (Nesuh-aga Vučijaković Mosque)

This attractive mosque was named for the sponsor of the original 1564 structure. Its alternative nickname 'džamija pod lipom', means the 'mosque under the lime tree'. Surrounding buildings were destroyed in the 1990s conflict and now host a large 'martyrs' graveyard.

Old Bridge Museum

Fifteenth-century defence towers guard either side of Stari Most. The eastern one hosts part of the somewhat sparse Old Bridge Museum. Visits start by climbing the tower's five storeys for partial views and interesting but limited displays about Stari Most's context and construction. You then descend and walk through the bridge's archaeological bowels, emerging on Kujundžiluk.

Koski Mehmed Paša Mosque, Ruins in Mostar (Ljubljanska Banka Tower Ruin), Museum of Hercegovina, Architecture in Mostar (Stara Gimnazija), Roznamedži Ibrahimefendi Mosque, Karađozbeg Mosque, Gallery in Mostar (War Photo Exhibition), Hotel Neretva Ruins, Architecture in Mostar (City Baths), and many more...

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