Bosnia: Mostar

stari most, mostar, bosnia

Welcome to picturesque Mostar, famous for Stari Most (literally Old Bridge), one of the most beautiful and historic bridges in all the world…

but also a place where the scars of war are quite visible …

Built by the Ottomans in the sixteenth century, Stari Most was destroyed by Croat forces in 1993 during the Balkans War.
Fortunately, this engineering and architectural masterpiece was rebuilt in 2004 and now stands, hopefully, as a permanent monument to reconciliation and peace.
In addition to its rich, but heart-breaking history, Stari Most is also famous for the young men who dive from its apex into the Neretva River. Alas, I was there during the off-season and did not witness any jumps, but there were a few divers who enjoyed teasing the handful of tourists who managed to be there.

Visiting the cozy and romantic tourist area in the immediate vicinity of the bridge, one would hardly guess that Mostar was the scene of horrific ethnic and religious warfare between three opposing groups — [predominantly Orthodox] Serbs, [predominantly Catholic] Croats, and [predominantly Muslim] Bosniaks — just two decades ago.

One interesting feature of Mostar is the dozens of Muslim obituaries posted on the walls and lamp posts, which seem an unusual and somewhat unsettling sight to this first-time visitor.
But these obituaries are recent and not directly related to the war.

They are simply a part of local custom and a sobering reminder of the fragility and temporariness of life.

It takes only a short walk from the tourist area to start seeing the highly visible scars from the 1990s war…
Almost everywhere you look, walls are pockmarked by bullet holes.
In some cases, entire buildings remain gutted and abandoned.
My initial reaction was surprise that they are still standing two decades later, but then I wondered…
Perhaps it is simply a matter of the financial risk of rebuilding during a time of continuing economic hardship.
But perhaps they are painful, but necessary reminders of the insanity of ethnic and religious division. And, of course, the human cost is beyond heartbreaking.

Please see “The Man from Mostar”

Remembrance of so many who were killed during the war.

Yet, amid the destruction there are also some encouraging signs of reconciliation, reconstruction, and optimism.
But life remains difficult here and pent-up resentments persist, as seen in the broken windows in city hall below, bearing an expression of outrage by citizens disgusted with rampant corruption.

Please see “The Girl from Mostar”


    1. Sorry about the painfully slow reply, Nilla. WordPress decided to mark all your [most thoughtful] Bosnia comments as spam. I glad I found them before they were automatically deleted. Anyway, thanks a bunch for visiting, for the most kind words, and all the best on your travels there.

      1. WordPress can be a pain. I’m having loads of issues after upgrading to a Business Plan asa I’m re-building this site.
        Just arrived in Mostart this afternoon, so will explore tomorrow.

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