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).
- 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.
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|
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.