MOSTAR – Between UNESCO World Heritage Site and Scene of Interethnic Conflicts
Why Mostar Deserves to be Visited
Mostar is located in the southern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and represents a unique world. Why? The reason lies in the past and how the past affects the presentation of the town. During the Ottoman rule, people from many ethnic groups lived together here as in many other places in the Empire at that time. The typical architecture of the Old Town is a mix of Islamic, Mediterranean and Western influence, making it particularly interesting and colourful for visitors.
The Old Bridge in the centre of the Old City of Mostar divides the city into two parts. The Bridge is a World Heritage Site since 2005 and it is the Mostar’s landmark. During the civil war in 1993 was destroyed and later built again.
Neretva River, today is considered to be the boundary between the Muslim and the Christian community. During the civil war between Bosnian Muslims and Christian Croats, many people have lost their lives. Although the restoration of the Old Bridge in 2004 (with the help of local communities and UNESCO), is considered as a new beginning of peaceful relations between Bosniaks and Croats, interethnic conflict continues to smoulder. Most likely because people have suffered too much pain and the wounds are still too recent.
All this makes Mostar and the surrounding area particularly interesting. The spacious valley offers beautiful views of planted fields and orchards surrounded on the horizon by high mountain ridges. The Old Town looks like a stage for a film showing the Ottoman era. Small shops offer souvenirs in Arabic style – rugs, carved stools and coffee tables. Numerous restaurants occupy the terraces above the river, providing cool shade. The bridge, with its unique form, is a very good photo subject.
Tips for first-time visitors to Mostar:
• My personal experience shows that it is not a good idea to eat at restaurants in Old Town. The food is not tasty and it is expensive. Even more, in terms of hygiene is safer not to do so. Instead, I advise you to take a moment and enjoy a Turkish coffee at some of the terraces under the trees or vines trellis.
• The best period to visit Mostar is in spring or early autumn. Do not travel there in July or August. The area is very hot and dry during the summer, and on the cobbled streets of the Old Town, the temperatures become even more unbearable.
• If you decide to buy a souvenir, choose those that are made by local artisans. Many of the offered items are not authentic, so be careful in your selection.
Have you been to places so touched by war or conflicts that you can still see the wounds they left on people and places?
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