The jewel of the Balkans suffered terribly during the Bosnian war, but Mostar has truly bounced back. Continue reading to discover the top things to do in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Named after the mostari (bridge keepers) who guarded the Stari Most (Old Bridge), Mostar was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2005. The city was the most heavily bombed during the war in Bosnia & Herzegovina that took place from 1992 to 1995 following the breakup of Yugoslavia. Today, Mostar is full of quintessential Ottoman architecture, with plenty of traditional restaurants, market stalls, mosques and other historic buildings. Here, the top things to do in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina.
1. Visit the old town
Mostar has long been known for its old Turkish houses and Old Bridge, Stari Most, after which it is named. In the 1990s conflict, however, most of the historic town and the Old Bridge, designed by the renowned architect Sinan, was destroyed. The Old Bridge was rebuilt in 2004 and many of the buildings in the Old Town have been restored or rebuilt. The Old Bridge area, with its pre-Ottoman, eastern Ottoman, Mediterranean and western European architectural features, is an outstanding example of a multicultural urban settlement.
2. Climb Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque minaret
This mosque was built in 1617 and still has some of its original paint and wall decorations. More interesting however is the possibility to climb the minaret. Located 100 meters north of the Stari Most it affords awesome panoramic views of the city and the Neretva river. Due to the relatively high 6 euro entrance fee for the ticket not many people go up, giving you somewhat of an exclusive experience.
3. Find the The ‘Don’t Forget’ Stone
Located near the Stari Most, this stone serves as a reminder of the tragic past. It is important not to gloss over the fact that dreadful atrocities were committed here relatively recently, and that the city still feels the effects of a divided population. 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 would have lost friends and family members.
4. Shopping at Čaršija
In the heart of Mostar’s picturesque Old Town is its market, or čaršija which gives visitors a good glimpse of the traditional Bosnian way of life. There is a market on each side of the river near to the Old Bridge, due to the split between the Bosniak and Croat ethnic groups, although the difference between the two is not noticeable to visiting tourists. The market has a distinctly eastern feel, thanks to the historic Ottoman influences, with stalls selling painted plates, rugs, jewellery and souvenirs.
5. Observe the old Houses of Mostar
Mostar is a exciting mix of old and new and a walk through the city provides a fascinating insight into its devastating past. Derelict buildings riddled with bullet holes are a harsh reminder of the dark times the city has experienced. Even more than 20 years after the Bosnian War ended, entire sections of the city are still vacant and abandoned.
6. Visit Partisan Memorial Cemetery
Built in 1965 in honor of the Yugoslav partisans who died during World War II, the Partisan Memorial Cemetery is a monument in itself as well as an actual cemetery where the dead have been put to rest. It displays all the features of a complex architectural, aesthetic and landscape design, but since its creation the graveyard has become a dilapidated dumping ground that looks like an abandoned fantasy kingdom.
7. Drive Tito’s secret military airbase
This aircraft hangar outside of Mostar lies abandoned, but can be still be visited by anyone looking for a bit of off-the-beaten-path exploring. The high, cement ceiling is molded into a smooth curve, creating a huge concrete cavern filled with nothing but debris and echoes. This impressive hangar was once a top secret facility from the Yugoslav era built by Comunist revolutionary Josip Broz Tito right into a weedy hillside. The natural fortress protected the planes from attack, as well as from the prying eyes of citizens and spies.
Here, the top things to do in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Are you traveling the Balkans? Follow the next link to discover the top thing to do in Kotor, Montenegro.