Mostar does not hide its character. It is an Ottoman jewel with its history written in bullet holes, old cobbled streets, and the creases on the faces of old Mostarians. It is the rare place that is easier to picture 400 years ago than 20 years ago, when the Croat-Bosniak war tore the town to shreds, taking with it every bridge and several buildings as well as lives, but all the while, making the character of Mostar that much stronger.
Even the perfect Stari Most bridge that connects the city above the emerald Neretva river was destroyed, but it took an estimated 60 shells of tank fire to take down the 400 year old masterpiece.
In the early nineties, CNN called Mostar a permanent shooting gallery with 50 casualties per day. Every graveyard was full, so bodies were buried in parks. It was a war so complicated that after researching it for a couple days, I am even more confused than when I began. There is an old video at the end of this post if you want to see what Mostar was like 20 years ago.
So why come to Mostar? Beauty and hope.
The town is absolutely beautiful, just like its people, who still manage to crack a smile despite 40% unemployment. It may have been bombed, beaten, and sieged, but Mostar never lost its identity as a beautiful place to take in a history that ripens with each passing day. The cafes blare Balkan music, the summer sunsets are long drawn out affairs, and cats play in dimly lit back alleys, more curious than threatening.
As for hope, this is not a place where one thought he could visit twenty years ago. And yet, the tour buses embark for Mostar daily. It gives me hope that in 20 years who knows what other destinations will be unlocked and open to travelers.
The old town of Mostar
A moon hangs in the Balkan sky
A plate of local food
One of Mostar's many mosques
The famous Stari Most bridge, rebuilt in 2004 after being destroyed after 4 centuries of existence in the war of teh early nineties
A bunch of cafes and restaurants line the Neretva River on both banks
Most buildings are very old and have survived many wars
Some Muslim women sit at the waterfront
Some locals at a bar
PS3 and PS2 arcade
A more modern house
Kristin really enjoyed the shopping scene in Mostar
An old building inside a mosque courtyard
Ottoman influences are everywhere
There are graves everywhere, as they ran out of space at the graveyards during the war
Kristin and the bridge
The bridge with surrounding old town
Some guys celebrating
Some awesome mannys
The two towers on each side of the river are called Mostaris or bridge keepers
A little Medieval
Kristin buying copper goods
How many times can I take a picture of the same thing? Ask Kristin
Lots of little kids with moms
Some local dress - I dont even remember taking this picture
A diver about to jump from the 70+ foot tall bridge
The area is beautiful and the river is the strangest shade of green
Some old cafes
Spinach stuffed with rice and meat
I love the door shutters
An old cobbled street
Bullet holes can be seen in many buildings and some are still bombed out
The call to prayer echos throughout the Muslim and Christian city
A newer part of town
View from the Stari Most
Our place the Muslibegovic House, which doubles as a hotel
Old Hajj passport
Inside our hotel
Great place to buy fabrics
Some guys jamming on the waterfront. How Serbian does the guy in grey tank look?
Minaret looms over the river
This bridge is incredible in person, looks like something out of an alternate universe, or maybe game of thrones
A shop keeper jamming
This guy was the jam - Mostar has very exotic looking women
The surrounding mountains flank Mostar
Some Bosniak women amble down a main road
HDR of a Mostar bridge jumper
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