[wzslider autoplay=”true”]Mostar is my favourite place to visit in Bosnia, partly because the scenery looks like its taken straight out of a fairytale book. But its also hard for me to summarize this magical city into one post , I would need 10 just to get started so I’ve complied a list of the top 5 things to do in the Old Town of Mostar. I have been to all of these places each visit, and have always enjoyed it. Another thing about this charming city, is that there is always something new and exciting to see; and amazing people to meet.
Koski Mehmed Pasa Mosque
This is in my top 5 things you must do, and must see in Mostar because; the views from the minaret (mosque tower) are incredible. It enjoys a 360 degree view of the old city, the river and the old bridge. Entry to the mosque is 4 Marks or 8 marks for mosque/minaret and entrance to a fenced courtyard, which is fantastic value.
There is a small cemetery next to the Mosque, and inside the courtyard and this has an amazing vantage point for photo taking. The 89 steps to the top may seem claustrophobic, as the staircase is very narrow meaning that only one person can go up or down in one direction at a time. But take the time and effort to reach the top, as the views are sensational.
Koski Mosque was built in 1617-1619 and is the only one in Mostar where the original colours, ornaments and wall decorations have been preserved. Although under the “protection” of UNESCO, the mosque was heavily damaged in the war in 1993, with its minaret destroyed and roof dome heavily damaged.
The Old Bridge (Stari Most)
The Stari Most is one of the country’s most recognizable landmarks and a fantastic piece of Islamic architecture in the Balkan region. The name Mostar comes originally from the word Mostari, which means “Bridge Keeper”. Sadly many peoples memories of this Ottoman bridge stem from November 1993, when the Croatian forces bombarded the bridge for days; eventually causing it to collapse into the river below. Thanks to the UN, The World Bank, UNESCO and several European countries including Croatia and Turkey, this bridge was rebuilt by hand (using the traditional methods) to its former glory. The original Stari Most was commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1557 to replace the older wooden suspension bridge, and it took nine years to complete. When it was finished it was the widest man-made arch in the world and it stood for 427 years until it was destroyed on the 9th of November 1993. Apparently more than 60 shells hit the bridge before it fell into the river below.
The bridge itself is 28 meters long and 24 meters high, and attracts tourists from all across the globe on a yearly basis. But as well as being a beautiful and symbolic structure, the bridge plays host to a number of spectacles each year. On the last weekend of July each year, an annual diving competition is held where divers from several countries take part in plunging some 24 meters from the Old Bridge. In addition to the annual competition, on the 15th of August this year Mostar will welcome the elite divers for the Red Bull Diving World Series.
However jumping from the bridge isn’t as easy as it looks.
The Neretva River
Just after you walk under the arch on bridge, you will pass an ice cream shop (right near the bridge), and a cafe called Cafe Lasta, (sometimes through the cafes windows you can spot a diver jumping from the bridge). Once you pass the cafe turn left and head down the stairs. This will lead you to the bottom, where the river Neretva is. The Neretva, emerald green in colour, is the largest river in the eastern part of the Adriatic basin, with a total length of 225km. It is one of the coldest rivers in the world, often as low as 7 degrees Celsius in summer. We have a saying in Bosnia “its as cold as the Neretva”.
In the summer months many young locals will be swimming and tanning by the water. If you are a strong swimmer, I do recommend taking a dip as it is very refreshing on a hot day; and will leave you feeling invigorated. Be sure to splash the water on your body first so the cold water is not a big shock to your body. Even the bridge jumpers shower in cold water first to bring their body temperature down. You can sit by the water at the many cafes down the bottom open during summer, enjoy a nice ice cream, and even if you aren’t swimming its always good to dip your feet in.
Muslibegović House, a National Monument and a museum, dating from the second half of the 18th century, is a great example of residential architecture from the Ottoman period. The house includes a residential building and two courtyards, including the surrounding walls with entrance gateways. The Muslibegović family were a noble lineage in Herzegovina, a where its members were governors for many centuries.
Today, the section of a building is used as hotel and it consists of twelve bedrooms. Expedia Travel placed the Muslibegović House into the top-ten accommodation locations in the world for 2010. I stayed in this gorgeous hotel one night, when we decided to extend out Mostar trip by an extra day, and decided to splurge on a bit of luxury. The price isn’t too expensive for what we were used to in Sydney, in fact it was so much cheaper. But it is a luxury hotel in Mostar. Everything was amazing.
War photo Exhibition
For a real look into Mostar during the war be sure to check out the WAR PHOTO EXHIBITION. This gallery has a collection of photos taken by New Zealand born photographer Wade Goddard. Wade, in his early 20’s arrived in Bosnia in 1992, to try his hand in photojournalism. Over the next several years or so he covered the events in Mostar both during and post war. These photos show the emotions and struggles of people trying to live every day life in a war zone, with a type of artistic honesty that is very moving. Wade also has an exhibition in Dubrovnik.
Written by Ariana, the Bosnian Aussie