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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrMostar, named after the keepers of the Stari Most bridge, is a small medieval town located in the Herzegovina region, in southern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the fifth-largest town in the country. Founded in the 13th century, the picturesque town has a rich Ottoman, Austrian-Hungarian, and Yugoslavian history.
Mostar has been under the Ottoman ruling in the 15th and 16th century and most of the buildings and monuments were built during this period. The currency of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the Converted Mark (KM), although the Euro and the Croatian kuna are widely accepted.
The beauty of Mostar lies in the turquoise-blue Neretva river, elegant minarets, colorful Bazaar with traditional handicrafts and Turkish-style homes. However, Mostar was badly damaged by the fighting during the Balkan Wars and its famous bridge was completely destroyed. Today, the beautiful Old Bridge is back to its former glory, but the reminders of the city’s brutal past are still visible in the bullet hole-laden walls and bombed out buildings nestled beyond the cobbled lanes of the restored old town.
There are some museums and interesting sites around town, but the true appeal is the Old Bridge and the town itself. With the stunning Neretva river flowing through it, and terraces and cafés along both banks, it is a lovely place to wander around. Between November and April most tourist facilities are closed. However, it is worth visiting off-season if large crowds are not your thing. Mostar's climate is generally warm during the summer and cold during the winter.
Half a day at the old town is sufficient to gain a quick glimpse into this culturally-rich town. Although, if you want to get a true feel of this charming town stay a night or two.
What to See & DoBeside attractions in the town, you can explore the impressive Ottoman architecture found near Mostar in villages of Počitelj and Blagaj, as well as an important Catholic pilgrimage site of Medžugorie and stunning natural beauty of Kravica Waterfalls.
Old BridgeThe stone bridge, 4 meters wide and 28 meters long, was originally built across the Neretva River in 1566. Connecting the Muslims on the east bank with the Catholics on the west bank, was of the most impressive examples of Ottoman architecture in the Balkans. However, the new Old Bridge, just as stunning as its historic counterpart have been, is still the main attraction. It was bombed and completely destroyed during the 1990s conflict, but an exact replica of the bridge has been rebuilt. In 2004 the bridge was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The tradition of jumping from the bridge is as old as the bridge itself. A formal competition began in 1968 and is held every summer.
The bridge itself is rather steep and the stones on the bridge are quite slippery, so beware when walking across it. At the end of the bridge you'll find the Old Bridge Museum. It exhibits the bridge’s history, entry to the excavations below and a panoramic view of Mostar from the top.
Koski Mehmed Pasha MosqueKoski Mehmed Pasha Mosque is located on the left bank of the Neretva river, just about 150 meters north of the Old Bridge. For a small fee, you can enter the mosque. Inside, the mosque offers an interesting insight into Mostar’s Ottoman heritage, but the real attraction is the 360-degree view of the town from atop the mosque’s minaret. The mosque was built at the beginning of the 17th century and is the only one in Mostar where the original ornaments and wall decorations have been preserved. Like most buildings in the old town of Mostar, it was seriously damaged during the war and was later restored. Outside the mosque you'll find a garden area and fountain taps.
Old TownAlthough not large, the picturesque old town is the perfect place to enjoy a pleasant stroll and sip a cup of strong, tasty Bosnian Coffee. With its quaint, cobbled streets, beautiful Turkish-style houses, riverside cafés, and numerous souvenir shops, giving it a distinct ‘oriental style market’ flavor will charm you for sure.
The influence of the Ottoman Empire is still evident in the array of colorful bazaars lining its alleys, selling all kinds of handmade products including jewelry, pottery, and metalwork. Mostar’s old town was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. The tourist information center is located on the west bank of the old town.
Kriva Ćuprija BridgeThe famous little Crooked Bridge was the oldest, single arch, stone bridge in Mostar, located near the Old Bridge crossing the Radobolja river. The bridge was only damaged during the war, but then later totally destroyed by floods in the 2000. It was rebuilt a year later.
Museum of HercegovinaA small but interesting and well-managed museum, founded in 1950, displays rich historical heritage of Mostar and Herzegovina. The documentaries from the rich museum movie collection can be seen in the designated area. The building was originally the residence of a former head of the Yugoslavian government, Džemal Bijedić.
Bišćevića HouseIf you are interested in history visit the Bišćevića House. The 350-year-old Turkish house, is one of the most beautiful preserved residential houses from the Ottoman period. The house is surrounded by the high walls which protected women from curious men's sights. You will be amazed by a colorfully furnished interior with a selection of traditional metalwork and carved wooden furniture. The owner is a very friendly man who loves to explain everything about the Ottoman history and Turkish habits.
Kravice WaterfallsKravice is a perfect place to spend a hot summer day is located around 40 km south-west of Mostar. There is a parking at the top with a short walk down to the falls. Wide and beautiful, the pool below is a great place for a dip. The water is a bit chilly, but it goes amazingly well with the summer heat. There’s also a cafe, where you can have a drink and take in some of the local specialities. Note that, it is a bit difficult to find as it is not that well signposted.
Food & DrinkFor food lovers, Mostar is the place to be. You'll find plenty of restaurants and pleasant cafés, offering views of the Old Bridge in the Old Town and the prices are very affordable.
The Mostar's traditional cuisine includes obvious Turkish influences, with plenty of grilled meat dishes. Burek, a crisp pastry filled with ground meat, cheese, potato, or spinach and twisted into a spiral, is Bosnia’s iconic and most beloved dish. The local specialty and a must-try are ćevapi also known as 'ćevapčići'; a small grilled rolls of minced beef, lamb or mixed, served with pita-bread 'lepinja', diced onion and creamy cheese 'kajmak'. Other popular dishes are: 'sarma'; meat and rice rolled in pickled cabbage leaves, bosanski lonac; slow-roasted pot of meat and vegetables, and 'jagnjetina', grilled mutton or lamb. There’s plenty of local, village-made cheese to be found, and good wines.
If you have a sweet tooth, sample delicious 'baklava'; a flaky pastry layers lusciously combined with honey and nuts, 'tufahije'; apples stuffed with walnuts and topped with whipped cream, 'hurmašice'; date-shaped pastry drenched in a sweet syrup or 'tulumbe' deep-fried dough sweetened with syrup.
Coffee culture is an important aspect of social life in the Balkans. Bosnian Coffee or 'Kafa' is usually served in a traditional brass or copper pot, with sugar cubes and Turkish delight 'rahat lokum'; a sweet candy. Sample the home-made spirit 'rakija', which is available in different flavors like pear, grape; cherry, walnut; apricot, apple; and various herbs.
ShoppingVisit the cobbled bazaar, it is an absolute must-do. Cross the Old Bridge and you'll find a delightful street with several charming little crafts and shops, where local vendors sell everything from handbags to iconic paintings of the city. There's plenty of metal work to be found too, from the copper coffee sets, coffee pots, and plates to tiny handless cups in copper holders. Most craftsman know the worth of their labor and charge accordingly. So be aware, the cheaper an item appears, the more chance there is that it is factory made. And even if you are not buying, the crafts they are selling are beautiful and worth to see.
If local markets are your thing, head to Tepa, located close to the old city, or visit Tržnica situated in the new part of the city. At Vrapčići, a few kilometers north of Mostar, there is also a large flea market, open on Saturdays and Sundays.
Getting There & AroundTravelling to Mostar is easy by bus or train from elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or from Croatia. There are hourly buses between Mostar and Sarajevo with a journey time of about 2 hours. There is also regular bus service connecting Mostar to Split, Dubrovnik and Zagreb. A train service connects Mostar to Zagreb, Sarajevo, and Ploče. But the trains are far less frequent and the train stations are quite dated, so bus ride could be the most comfortable option.
Mostar's old town is best explored on foot. Most points of interest are quite close to one another, making travel around the city very easy. Towns's local transport system consists of yellow buses. Tickets can be bought directly from the driver. Fares are pretty cheap.
SafetyOverall, Mostar is safe to visit. However, as in any other tourist place in the world, keep an eye on your belongings in crowded tourist areas, restaurants, open markets, and public transportation. As a result of the relatively recent civil war, there might be still be some land-mines and unexploded ammunition. In rural areas outside Mostar keep to clearly defined paths and areas where there have obviously been people passing. Getting involved in heated political or war debate is probably not the wisest idea.
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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Apr 11, 2015