Sunday, 14 April 2019

Day Trip to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Greetings! In March, my sister and I went on a guided tour to visit Croatia and Slovenia. Our itinerary included a day trip from Dubrovnik in Croatia to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We knew little about Mostar and were curious to have an introduction to the city.

In this post, I'm sharing a few quick facts about Mostar, and the main sights that we explored during our walk in the historic centre of Mostar. On the day of our visit, the weather was unusually warm, with sunny skies, and the high temperature reached 24C (75F).

QUICK FACTS:
  • Mostar is located just inland from the Adriatic Coast, about two hours drive from Dubrovnik.
  • Mostar is on the banks of the River Neretva, in the Herzegovina region, in the south east part of Bosnia & Herzegovina.
  • The historic Old Town of Mostar was developed in the 15th and 16th centuries as an Ottoman frontier town and during the Austro-Hungarian period in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005.

ATTRACTIONS:

1. The Old Town: Under sunny skies, the historic Old Town of Mostar on the banks of the Neretva River looks picturesque with Islamic and medieval features. Some of the main mosques and their minarets dot the landscape. The walk through the historic Old Town is straightforward by following the cobble stoned main street. Sturdy shoes with good grips are essential as the stone surface is smooth and slippery.

Mostar and the Neretva River

2. Stari Most (or Old Bridge) - This striking single-arch stone bridge is the main attraction. The original bridge was built from 1557 to 1566 during the Ottoman Empire. It connects the left and right banks of the Neretva River. On the east bank, the semi-circular Tara Tower was used as a deposit for ammunitions in the Ottoman era and, today, houses the Museum of the Old Bridge. On the west bank, the Halebija Tower, was once the prison on its lower floors, and small barracks on its upper floors, also used as a look-out post.

Stari Most (Old Bridge), Mostar

The Old Bridge was destroyed in 1993 during the Yugoslav wars. After the wars ended, it was rebuilt with stone from the original quarry in the exact way it was built so long ago. The rebuilt works were finished in 2004. The ground surface of the bridge is steep, smooth, and slippery, with raised ridges. We were advised to use those raised ridges to step on.

3. Bridge Diving: One of the key activities of life in Mostar naturally revolves around its famous bridge: Bridge diving occurs mainly during the summer months, and involves trained professionals diving from the top of the Stari Most to entertain the crowds. The distance between the top of the bridge and the river below is about 20m, so bridge diving must only be undertaken by professionals or by tourists who have taken a training class beforehand.

My sister and I happened to be on the Stari Most when a local professional diver did a dive from the top of the bridge to the cold Neretva River below. Once he finished the dive, he swam to the rocks on the river bank and got out.

Mostar and the Neretva River

4. Building Architecture - The houses here reflect the Ottoman influence and Western medieval architectural features. There are a number of historic mosques and museums such as Nezir Aga Mosque, Tabacica Mosque, the Museum of the Old Bridge, or the Hamam Museum within short walking distance of each other.

Near Stari Most (or Old Bridge) there is a small ‘Don’t Forget’ Stone - This small stone serves as a gentle reminder of the civil war and the city's tragic past. While tourism has ensured that Mostar has been able to thrive since the war, not long ago it was under siege, and many of the locals living in the city today would have lost friends and family members.

Mostar medieval architecture

Colourful walls in Mostar

5. Kriva Cuprija (or Crooked Bridge) - For a smaller and less touristic version of the Stari Most, the Kriva Cuprija (or Crooked Bridge) is worth a visit. It is older than the Stari Most, and is thought to have been a test-run of sorts for the later construction of the larger and more famous bridge. It has only one arch so is relatively small, but still exemplifies typical Islamic architecture of the 16th century. The bridge was washed away by floods in the year 2000 but was rebuilt with aid from UNESCO a year later, and was relatively unscathed by the civil war.

Kriva Cuprija (Crooked Bridge), Mostar

6. The Market - In the heart of Mostar’s picturesque Old Town is its market. The market has a distinctly eastern feel, with stalls selling rugs, painted plates, copper items, and souvenirs. Some of the items, like the tea sets or lamps or jewel boxes, reminded me of the markets in Morocco. We were advised to be vigilante of pickpockets here.

Mostar stone walled houses and cobblestone street

Mostar Market

7. Mostar Peace Bell Tower - Constructed in 2000, the height of the bell tower is 107.2 m. Visitors can climb 370 steps or take a lift to the top. The Franciscan church below is a replacement for an 1866 basilica that was badly damaged during the war.

Mostar Peace Bell Tower

The walk in the historic Old Town of Mostar is not long. However, it takes a couple of hours to pause and see the main attractions. This does not include time spent in any of the mosque or museum, or other sights, or souvenir shopping.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to visit this part of the world during peace time, with my sister by my side, and on a beautiful, sunny day.

Thank you for travelling with me. I'd love to hear your comments. 

60 comments:

  1. Thank you for transporting me here today! I have longed to visit there in person but have not yet had the opportunity to do so. The Old Bridge has been restored so beautifully but I would never had the guts to dive off of it! Mostar’s medieval architecture is stunning and how I would love to walk among its colorful walls and marketplaces! Was surprised to learn that the Peace Bell Tower was constructed in 2000. Its use of traditional themes places it at a much earlier time, allowing it to fit perfectly in Mostar. What a treat for you to be albe to visit here with your sister.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa, for your comment. Our day trip to Mostar was a learning opportunity for me. The tour guides spoke about the civil wars and how the local people were affected by them. I was glad to see Mostar's success in rebuilding their historic centre and life is more peaceful for the locals atm.

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  2. Wow, I loved reading your travel guide Natalie! What a great experience. The diving sounds a bit scary though. #lifethisweek

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    1. Thank you, Debbie, for your comment. I thought the bridge diving was a hard way for the diver to earn a living.

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  3. Thanks for being our travel guide. I think I've seen footage of that bridge diving. Despite the civil wars, it still looks to be a well-preserved town with plenty of those original features and landmarks. I particularly like the idea of the memory stone. That war was really only a generation or so ago and as you say, many of the inhabitants would have lost loved ones.

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    1. Thank you, Jo, for your comment. I think the locals did a great job rebuilding the Old Bridge and the historic centre of Mostar. After any war, it takes a lot of efforts, time, and resources for the locals to recover.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your photos of this beautiful city. That bridge diving is crazy! I think I would have to close my eyes, but the professionals know what they are doing, I'm sure! The market looks gorgeous. I would love to visit.

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    1. Thank you, Laurie, for stopping by. Local professional divers do the bridge diving to earn money. It looks dangerous to me.

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  5. Such a beautiful area. The river makes it look even more picturesque and inviting.

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    1. I agreed with you that the Neretva River makes the Old Town of Mostar look very picturesque. Thank you, Mary, for stopping by.

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  6. What a beautiful place to visit and explore X #anythinggoes

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    1. Thank you for your visit and comment. I greatly appreciate it.

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  7. It's a wonderful location, isn't it? I well remember the bombing of that bridge. I was in Dubrovnik just before the war and was heartbroken to see it shelled. Glad it's all looking so good today. Thanks for sharing, Natalie.

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    1. Thank you, Jo, for stopping by. The Old Bridge in Mostar is looking good and so popular with tourists now.

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  8. I’d heard about Mostar on TV during the wars when I was still living in Belgium, but I didn’t realize it was a beautiful, historic town until today. Through your blog and, coincidently, through the owners of the house we are currently taking care of. She sent me a photo of her family in Mostar, Bosnia a few hours ago. They are visiting the same region you explored with your sister. I guess tourism is growing. :-) What a picturesque place.

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    1. Hi Liesbet - What a coincidence that you heard about Mostar twice in a few hours. Tourism is strong there. I visited in off season and it was busy in the small historic Old Town. Thank you for dropping by.

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  9. I love traveling (virtually) with you Natalie. Thank you for taking us on this incredible day trip. I agree that Bridge Diving would be a very difficult (and dangerous) way to earn a living!

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    1. Hi Donna - I'm humbled that you love to travel virtually with me. I look forward to reading more about your upcoming trip.

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  10. Looks a beautiful place Natalie. I love how you open our eyes to places we might not have thought of visiting.

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    1. Hi Gail - I was glad to have an intro to Mostar and share it on my blog. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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  11. This is a trip I wish I'd taken when I was visiting Montenegro and Dubrovnik. Lovely shots!

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    1. Thank you, Lady Fi, for your comment. So many interesting places to see, so little time.

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    1. Hope you will visit Mostar. Thank you for dropping by.

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  13. Just Wow! These look like some pretty fabulous and interesting places to visit! I'm so jealous! Thanks so much for sharing with us! Hopping over for #MLSTL party!

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    1. Thank you, Bren, for your comment. Mostar is an interesting place to visit.

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  14. What an interesting and gorgeous place. The architecture is beautiful to see and each shot looks like a bit of history.

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    1. Thank you, Betty, for your comment. Mostar has a rich history and its architecture looks more eastern than western European to me.

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    2. I'm so glad you joined me at My Corner of the World this week!

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    3. Thank you, Betty, for hosting. Have a great week!

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  15. Your travels so often are to places I have never heard of and this is the case today. Very interesting place to visit especially the bridge and the diving.

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    1. Thank you, Victoria, for your comment. I'm glad to share Mostar with you and other readers.

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  16. Wow - it's so beautiful there in the old town Natalie! So quaint and historical and picturesque. I'd love it there and would be in heaven taking photographs. I love old buildings. The market looks great too! I love moroccan colours and wares so I'm pretty sure if I were to visit there would've been some purchases! Thanks for showing me places I haven't even heard of. I had never heard of Mostar but I do love it - so pretty! :-)

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    1. Thank you, Min, for your comment. Mostar Old Town is small but it takes a couple of hours easily to walk through it as there are interesting things that make us stop to see and take photos.

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  17. Awesome Natalie - Mostar is somewhere I'd love to visit. We were lucky to get to Dubrovnik and Split and then some of the islands on the Dalmatian coast but Mostar was just a step too far on our itinerary. Thanks for taking me there today. #MLSTLT and Shared on SM

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    1. Thank you, Jo, for your comment. Mostar looks very different from Dubrovnik and Split, doesn't it? My pleasure to share Mostar on my blog.

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  18. Gorgeous buildings and good on those bridge divers - you'd never get me leaping 20m's into freezing cold water - just crazy!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I've shared on my SM :)

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    1. Thank you, Leanne, for hosting MLSTL. I like the building architecture in Mostar, too. The bridge diving is extreme :)

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  19. I can see why there is temptation to dive off bridges. It is a 'past time' of sorts here in Australia. Unfortunately for some, injuries or death can occur when the participants (mostly teen boys!) do not know the depth of where they are diving.
    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week's optional prompt is Easter Means This. 16/51 #LifeThisWeek. 41/2019. Hope to see you there!
    Denyse

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    1. Thank you, Denyse, for hosting LTW and for your comment. The local guide in Mostar told us that the tourists who pay to dive from the bridge are usually Australians! I guess for some young people, they see it as a thrill and don't realize the danger.

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  20. Hello Natalie, this is one part of the world I haven't been to yet, despite living 'just around the corner' for the past 10 years! I hope to get someday, hopefully in the next 2 years (big plans ahead!). Thank you for sharing, I love seeing new places! Visiting from MLSTL and pinned. :-)

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    1. Hi Cheryl - Your big plans sound exciting. From Moscow you can go to so many places. I look forward to hearing about your adventures.

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  21. Mostar is completely new to me. I enjoyed learning a little bit about it. I really have very little understanding of this part of the world. It sounds fascinating.

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    1. Thank you, Michele, for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed learning about Mostar.

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  22. I always enjoy your travel blogs, Natalie and my FIL was born in Bosnia and then lived in Croatia until WWII when he fled to Italy. Thanks for sharing your travels with us at #MLSTL and have a great week. xx

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    1. Thank you, Sue, for hosting MLSTL and sharing your family connection with Bosnia, Croatia, and Italy. Have a beautiful week!

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  23. The weather does look beautiful and I love the architecture! I've got a friend whose husband is Bosnian and they've visited often over the years!

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    1. Thank you, Deb, for your comment. The architecture in the Old Town of Mostar is interesting to see.

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  24. Natalie, thank you again for sharing your personal insights and a bit of history on another part of the world I am yet to explore for myself.

    Wishing you a lovely Easter break!

    SSG xxx

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    1. Thank you, SSG, for dropping by. Happy Easter to you, too!

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  25. What a beautiful and wonderful place. Thanks for sharing it. #lifelovinlinky

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    1. Thank you, Patrick, for your comment. I greatly appreciate it.

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  26. Oh that looks like a fun trip! All those interesting sites to see. I will have to add this to my travel bucket list! #GlobalBlogging

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    1. Thanks, Michelle, for your comment. Happy travel planning!

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  27. As always, your photos are beautiful, Natalie. Thank you for sharing your travel adventures with us.

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    1. My pleasure, Christie. Thank you for your comment.

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  28. The market looks like a place I would love to visit! #GlobalBlogging

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    1. It's fun to browse at the market. Thank you, Heather, for stopping by.

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  29. From your photos, it is clear that Mostar retains its historical character. It’s great that it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    Jude

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    1. I think so too, Jude. I enjoyed visiting Mostar's Old Town and seeing the older architecture.

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