Mostar, Bosnia and Hercegovina
August 2-3, 2010
The name is sometimes written as Bosnia i Herzegovina or Bosnia-Herzegovina, and abbreviated as BiH ( "i" = "and"), and also sometimes with a "c" and sometimes with a "z".
There are 32 pictures here.
I took the bus from Makarska to Mostar. It took 3 hours. We had to stop twice to show our passports – once for leaving Croatia and once to enter Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia in October 1991. This was followed by a bloody war between the Serbs and the Muslims that ended in 1995, with the Dayton (Ohio) Peace Agreement.
I stayed at the Villa Botticelli, a bed and breakfast, in one of five artsy rooms. Here is the owner, Snjezana Botic.
A road in the main tourist area. If you look closely you can see four minarets.
The main tourist attraction is the Old Bridge. Here is a street on the way there.
The cobblestone streets are really hard to walk on, and are very slippery when wet.
The Old Bridge (Stari Most)
From Rick Steves …“One of the most evocative sights in the former Yugoslavia, this iconic bridge confidently spanned the Neretva River for more than four centuries. Mostarians of all faiths love the bridge and speak of “him” as an old friend. Traditionally considered the point where East meets Wets, the Old Bridge is as symbolic as it is beautiful. Dramatically arched and flanked by two boxy towers, the bridge is striking, even if you don’t know its history.
“Before the Old Bridge, the Neretva was spanned only by a rickety suspension bridge, guarded by mostari (“watchers of the bridge”), who gave the city its name. Commissioned in 1557 by the Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, and completed just nine years later, the Old Bridge was a technological marvel for its time. … Because of its graceful keystone design and the fact that there are empty spaces inside the structure, it’s much lighter than it seems. And yet, nearly 400 years after it was built, the bridge was still strong enough to support the weight of Nazi tanks that rolled in to occupy Mostar. Over the centuries, it became the symbol for the town and region – a metaphor in stone for the way the diverse faiths and cultures here were able to bridge the gaps that divided them.
“All of that dramatically changed in the early 1990s. When the city became engulfed in war, the Old Bridge frequently got caught in the cross fire. Old tires were slung over its sides to absorb some of the impact from nearby artillery or shrapnel.”
In November 1993, under intense shelling, the bridge collapsed.
It was rebuilt after the war, and part of keeping the authenticity was to build it like it was built by the Ottomans 450 years ago, using the same techniques (and deliberately making the same mistakes). For example they fastened the hand-carved stones (from the same quarry as before) together with iron hooks cast in lead.
Looking at the Neretva River from the bridge. Notice the boys swimming. The water is very cold.
A miniature Old Bridge, called the Crooked Bridge, was built nearly a decade before its more famous sibling, supposedly to practice for the real deal. The bridge was rebuilt after being swept away by floods,
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There are many reminders and remains of the 1991-1995 war. The city has pretty much recovered, but not totally. There are many building with pock marks left by bullets and shells. It’s a reminder of how horrible and devastating war is.
I visited a new Muslim cemetery. All the dates were 1993 to 1995. The fleur-de-lis shape of many of the tombstones is a patriotic symbol for the nation of Bosnia.
I visited a traditional Turkish home, dating from 1635. The cobblestone courtyard had a nice design.
Some of the roofs at this home consisted of thin slabs of limestone, which is a good insulator.
I visited a couple of museums and a photo exhibit titled Troubled Islam, which showed some of the tragedies suffered by Muslims and others during wars.
My one souvenir from Mostar was this copper plate made by this man’s son, Bajro Husein.
I left Mostar and took a bus to Dubrovnik to continue by vacation.
That's all for Mostar.