When you arrive at the Mostar bus or train station you might be surprisingly underwhelmed and forgiven for thinking the beauty of this small city in the south of Bosnia & Herzegovina has been overrated. As you make your way down to the Old Town, it will soon become apparent to you just why this city is so beautiful with thanks to the locals who have maintained its’ old world beauty and kept the city of Mostar trapped in time.
In the centre of the Old Town is the Old Bridge (Stari Most), a picturesque structure that connects both sides of the old town and becomes a popular spot for dare devils to jump in to the water below in the summer months. On the eastern bank of the bridge you will find the more interesting Muslim part of town, whereby the west is mostly home to the Catholic Croats. The bridge of Stari Most is therefore a sobering reminder of the divide and difficulty this country has faced.
Don’t Forget Stones
Throughout the city you can find constant reminders of the war with “Don’t Forget” written in stones. There is one at the entrance to the Stari Most Bridge to remind visitors of the bridge’s collapse during the siege of Mostar. It is important for visitors to the city of Mostar to recognise the Bosnian War was an incredibly difficult time for the city and ten years on, continues to be a painful reminder.
In contrast to the capital city Sarajevo, much of Mostar’s rebuilding after the Bosnian war is unseen because it has not occurred. In Sarajevo, the government repaired much of the effects of war and in the Old Town of the capital it is difficult to see any remnants of the war which took place between 1991-1995.
The War Photo Exhibition
Located in the Western Town above the Stari Most, the War Photo Exhibition is home to 50 images from the Bosnia War. The exhibition costs just 3 euros to enter and is an insightful look into daily life at the time of the war.
The alleys near to the bridge are filled with trinkets and treasures, so if you are looking for an authentic souvenir to take home from your travels, this is a great place to find it. Be sure to follow the narrow staircase that leads up to the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque’s minaret for panoramic city views.
The Old Bazaar
If you are shopping for souvenirs in Mostar, you might consider these unique and unusual trinkets from one of the vendors near the Old Bridge:
Handicrafts made from bullets – After the Bosnian war ammunition was littered throughout the country. Some clever locals collected the used ammunition and have turned them in to a variety of quirky souvenirs like bullet pens and key rings.
War paraphernalia – Speaking of the war, there are many chances to purchase helmets, badges, knives and all manner of ex-war paraphernalia to take home.
Pointy slippers – perhaps my favourite souvenir to buy in Bosnia was the quirky slippers used by Bosnians when entering someone’s home. Bosnians remove both their shoes and socks when entering a person’s home, so it is common practice to wear slippers indoors.
Day Trip: Blagaj Tekija
If you’re visiting Mostar for longer than a day, you may wish to venture beyond Mostar as this city, pretty as it is, can be seen in one day. Nearby Blagaj is a great place to start and it is here you can visit the famous Blagaj Tekija, a Dervish monastery built in to the cliff.
Day Trip: Počitelj, Čapljina
Another great day trip should you have more time is to visit Počitelj, Čapljina a short 32 kilometre drive from Mostar. The hillside village is commonly regarded as one of the most beautiful photographic locations in Bosnia.