The road between Sarajevo and Mostar is a mountain route that takes about two and a half hours. Although one of the country’s rare highways is built on this route, for now, only a 25-kilometer section is available. So, we hit the mountain road again. As you may remember from the previous article, we left the Sarajevo before sunset. We planned to arrive to Mostar before night and if we had a chance, we would visit the city before it sleep.
Just for the gorgeous mountain and river scenes that we saw is worth to drive between Sarajevo and Mostar. Open the windows of your car, because there is a fabulous wind that blows sweetly. If you are lucky, you can find a frequency that plays beautiful Balkan music on the radio, then you will definitely enjoy your time! For example, our favorite song was the following.
As in the most cities, we entered to the Mostar via the new city part. The sight of the cities that we see on the postcards are mostly the old city parts and thus, actual cities are quite bigger than those on the postcards. It didn’t take so much to find the place that we will stay, the Pansion Villa Cardak operated by Susana and her husband. Both of them are very nice people. If you have a chance to visit Mostar, I would definitely, but really definitely, recommend this place. When we arrive to the hotel at 22:00, Susana said “Where were you? I thought you may not come for a moment!” and took our baggage and directly send us to tour the city. If the Cardak is not available, when you visit Mostar, I recommend to find a place at the old city part. If you choose a hotel outside this region, which is under UNESCO’s protection and you can see on postcards, you might need to walk a bit to go to sights and you might even need a car.
We started to walk from the Cardak on the streets of the old city. It gives a kind of sense that you are walking in a small town at the Aegean coasts. There are souvenir shops, cafe shops and restaurants around. The kebab restaurants, i.e. “ćevapčići”, that we saw frequently in Serbia, also present here. While we didn’t walk so much, the historical Mostar Bridge shows up with all its glory.
There are many bridges on the Neretva River in Mostar. These bridges are also open to vehicle traffic. The old bridge called as “stari most”. The bridge was built by Mimar (architect) Hayreddin, one of the students of Mimar Sinan. After standing for 427 years, unfortunately destroyed by the Croatian army during the Bosnian-Croatian war, which was part of the Bosnian War.
Although Croatians later argued that the bridge was strategically important and that’s why it had to be destroyed, according to the academic debates, the importance of the bridge was not significant and the main reason that it was destroyed by Croatians is to delete the traces of culture.
The bridge that we visited is an exact replica of the original that rebuilt by many stakeholders, including Turkey. The Croatian army also supported the rebuilding of the bridge.
While walking in the old city, we were listening entertaining Balkan music. The music get louder as we walked down, like a wedding or something like that going on. After we turned the corner, the event showed up. The street was full of tourists, a band was playing Balkan music and everybody was having fun on the street. The energy of the Mostar is unbelievable! We agreed that, if we know about the Mostar before, we would spend most of our trip in Mostar.
After having some fun in the entertainment that I showed a small part above, we continued walking in the city. I told that Bosnia and Herzegovina divided into two administrative zones. One of these, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina also consists of several cantons. Mostar city is the capital of the Herzegovina-Neretva canton at the same time. There is also a Turkish consulate general in Mostar.
The city damaged deeply during the war. While some of the structures rebuilt, some are left as unrepaired as a reminder that times and to ensure that it will not to happen again. The Karagöz Bey Mosque was one of the buildings that had been demolished at that time but was later restored. Many parts of the mosque, including the minaret were completely destroyed, but were rebuilt later. The unrepaired buildings reveal the destructive nature of the war blindingly obvious.
It is even more frightening to think that someone is shooting heavy weapons at the window of your house, but it is even more impressive to see it in person. After doing a little more walk on the streets, we ended our journey that started from Serbia at 9:00 in the morning and lasts for 12-13 hours, to have some rest.
The city still looks beautiful in another way in the morning. After some rest, the people those who had fun last night, were running to the breakfast because they were starving. To see the bridge in the daytime also, we find a way going down. The bridge is also nice in the daytime. Without the spotlights that brightening the photos too much, it was beautiful in another way.
There are athletes collecting tips to jump into the cold water of the Neretva River. It’s fun to watch, but creepy to imagine we did it. There’s a video below that I tried to show you a jump, but, because I was looking around during the recording the camera is quite shaken, sorry;
Finally, we visited a shop selling souvenirs and bought a few souvenirs varying from classic cups to stickers. The girl who runs the store was at our age. When we ask about her, we realized that she was very afflicted. His father was not alive, and we were hesitant to ask if she lost him in the war time. She was running the store to take care of her mother and brother. Actually, she is a graduate of nursing, but the rate of employment for a young population in Bosnia and Herzegovina is very low. According to our friends’ words, the rate of employment is no more than 5%. Those the successful ones, are already going to work immediately to other countries. We asked if she remembered the war. She said that she was about 5 years old at that time and she didn’t remember clearly. However, she remembers that they had to leave Mostar during the war and they took refuge in Slovenia until the war ended. She said that she was trying to save money to see the world for a short while with her mother and sister, but she could collect only a very, very little money. And the places she wants to see are Spain and Turkey. We left the souvenir shop with too many memories than anybody can at a gift shop.
In fact, we left both shop and Mostar. Then we had to pack the suitcases and start the journey back to fist Sarajevo and then to Belgrade. I saved the sections about our return to Sarajevo to my next article, because I just want this article to be unique to Mostar. Additionally, I have important things to write about Sarajevo.
See you in the next article!