Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

My last post notification email went into my own spam box, so that’s annoying. As always, though, posts appear in chronological order on the blog homepage so that you can see what you missed!

Starting off on the lighter side of things, Mostar is most recognized for its “Old Bridge”, which unfortunately since 1993 is only a reconstruction of the old Ottoman bridge that had been there since the 16th century.

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I think the real reason tourists flock here is the bridge diving that goes on. From a height of 24m (79ft), you can watch people dive into the icy waters below.

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Bridge diving is sort of controlled by a local monopoly of experienced divers: they will perform a dive for you for about $20-30 in tips from tourists. For the same price, you can also pay them to get a lesson from a lower-height diving board and safety training before you attempt the big one. It’s technically not possible to just do the dive, although rumor has it you can do it if you get there early enough in the morning to beat the monopoly to it.

It’s pretty dangerous; people die every now and then, and in the hostel guestbook there are pictures of people in the hospital after their attempts. The guy in the video linked above did injure his knee on impact with the water.

Infrastructure in Mostar is noticeably behind that in Croatia. On the plus side, you can experience riding a bus sideways:

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Probably helps with digestion too.

The real reason to see Mostar, however, is to see the effects of the war in the 90s firsthand. All over town, there are derelict, bombed-out buildings next to perfectly modern ones.

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One of the most recognized ones is known as the glass house, or sniper tower, or old bank. It was built in the early 90s to be used as a bank, but soon after became taken over by Croat snipers to be used to fire onto the Bosnian side, and today is still covered in the glass from the windows. It’s also one of the tallest buildings in Mostar so it’s easily spotted.

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Although the first-floor windows were shuttered after the war, there’s a ledge around the back that can be used to climb in. From that entrance, it’s frequented by curious travelers during the day and drug addicts and people that are homeless at night.

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You can even find the old bank ledgers still hanging out.

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And the glass is also still the double-paned original.

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The elevators are completely gone (the building has been looted for all scrap metal) but the shafts are still there.

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Long drop down.

It is also covered in mostly political graffiti, including one of the best ones I’ve seen.

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And being one of the tallest buildings, it does have a nice view.

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The gold building on the corner is a new high school. In the back a minaret from a mosque is visible (Bosnians are mostly Muslim).

The old bank is definitely one of the sharpest remnants of the war, but as mentioned buildings like these are all around town. Right by the bridge, in fact, only the toilets are still there, and you probably wouldn’t notice them at first glance.

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They’re the squat-type toilets unlike what I’m used to.

That’s about all for Mostar; I should also mention that Mostar has three of the best hostels I’ve stayed at/heard of in terms of host friendliness. They all include free breakfast (and sometimes other meals) as well as tours of the city and surrounding areas. I definitely believe it’s partly the Bosnian friendliness that people always talk about, and partly that they all are really passionate about sharing their history with travelers. Incidentally, they are also all on the same street (Pere Lažetića).

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