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EXCURSIONS >> Mostar
Mostar is in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 140 kilometres from Dubrovnik. The city is situated on the Neretva River, and exudes a European connection with the Orient. Best known for the Old Bridge, built in 1566, which was once guarded by Mostari, after which it was named. The old bridge together with the old town in 2005 was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.
The old bridge was built by Turkish architect Hajrudin and is not associated with any specific style or period in architecture, making it unique in the world. The bridge is a shiny, light colour, and changes colour throughout the day. When Hajrudin designed the bridge, nobody believed him the stones might actually last constructed in that way.
According to legend, Suleiman the Magnificent was skeptical, telling Hajrudin that he would kill him if the bridge collapsed. The legend goes on to say that the unfortunate architect escaped before its completion, fearful that something unexpected might happen causing him to lose his life. It’s been retold from generation to generation that Hajrudin never actually saw his masterpiece complete in his lifetime, which remained intact until the Balkan War in the 1990s.
Unfortunately, during the armed conflict of the 1990s, the old bridge was destroyed. It was rebuilt in 2004. Mostar is the city that suffered the greatest devastation during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Initially, it was shelled by Serbs with Croats and Bosniaks defended the city together. Later, they went to war with each other and Mostar suffered enormous damage. Many people died as a result of the conflict and the city remains divided between Croats and Bosniaks to this day. This division is most visible when the city’s two football clubs – Muslim Velez Mostar and Croatian Zrinjski Mostar- have their derby match. During the war, the church of St. Peter and Paul and the Franciscan monastery were badly damaged, as well as numerous other attractions.
Over the years, they have both been renovated and Mostar again looks beautiful just as before the conflict.
Mostar has many sights that you should definitely see. The biggest is certainly the old quarter with the Old Bridge. There you’ll find the Karadjoz Mosque, the most beautiful and oldest mosque in the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to the Old Bridge, there are four others. The city will continually surprise with its combination of Ottoman culture and the Christian west. It’s also worth visiting the historical village of Brankovac and the Catholic Cathedral, it’s beautiful. The Orthodox Congregational Church, which was also destroyed in the war, is well worth a visit.
When in Mostar, make sure you try their culinary specialties. Mostar cuisine is a fusion of Turkish and Mediterranean. Meat dishes are the most popular, especially kebabs, cevapi and steaks all served with lots of kajmak, a delicious cream cheese.
Of Mostar’s attractions today, it’s worth mentioning the traditional jumping competition on the bridge. Its height is huge, 24 metres, and the brave competitors jump into the fast flowing and cold Neretva with plenty of bravado in the run up. Believe it or not, the tradition of jumping from the Old Bridge is as old as the bridge itself. The first real competition was held in 1664 and since then jumping masters have competed in two jumping categories - 'heads first ' and 'on your feet’.