MOSTAR, BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA: Mostar is a photogenic little town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its old town is picturesque at every corner. Ruled by the Ottomans for few centuries, Mostar still has old mosques and bridges from that period. This is a perfect place just to relax and enjoy nature and history or make trips to nearby small towns.
Mostar is about 130km from country’s capital Sarajevo which took us about less than 2 hours to reach. We had rental car, but most of the hotels in Sarajevo provides day trip to Mostar and Jablenica. The drive from Sarajevo to Mostar was absolutely stunning. We drove on beautiful highway and passed many small villages, grand mountains, and scenic lakes. It was River Buma that accompanied us throughout the whole time until we reached Mostar.
Mostar is small but very well demarked and with clear directions. There is a nice big paid parking space very close to the old town where we parked.
TIME of TRAVEL: Mostar was not in our itinerary during our Easter break trip in 2014. We were driving from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik and Mostar was on our way. Our hotel staffs told us that Mostar is a beautiful little town that we will pass on our way to Dubrovnik. So we decided to take lunch break there. But that little lunch break ended up being like a half a day trip.
EATING and SHOPPING: We had lunch at “Sadrvan” with fantastic setting of old town in an outdoor courtyard, only 20 meters away from Stari Most or Old Bridge. The waiters and waitresses were in traditional Bosnian costumes serving traditional Bosnian dishes. The restaurant had variety of options from schnitzel, to many kinds of soups and salads, and main dishes. We had veal cream soup, chicken risotto, vegetable with rice, grilled veges, and my husband had Bosnian coffee (very similar to Turkish coffee) with “Lokum” – a traditional Balkan sweet…again very close to Turkish delights.
Mostar is really a fun place to do souvenir shopping. The bazaar atmosphere was colorful and very lively with lots of eye-candies for good prices. Most of the Bosnian goods are heavily influenced by Ottoman’s or Turkish. You can find carpets, tea-sets, pots, ceramics, scarves, and dozens of other cute stuff from Mostar. There were some stores outside the Old Town, where we bought our souvenirs from…they are a bit cheaper from the stores in old town.
PLACES WE’VE VISITED: We spent only a few hours in Mostar. All the main sites are in old town and can easily be covered on foot.
1) OLD TOWN and BAZAAR: This is the highlight of Mostar. Even if you don’t do or see anything here, just walking on the cobbled stone covered old town and by the Turkish-stores is enjoyable. These bazaars look like souks from the Middle-Eastern countries. Make sure to bargain whatever you buy.
2) STARI MOST or OLD BRIDGE and TOWERS: This is one of the most photographic icon of Mostar. It’s a historic landmark as well as the most visited site here. You get the best attractive views of River Neretva and the whole city standing on this stone bridge.
This is an old bridge, built in 1566, on the orders of and with funds provided by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, at the request of the inhabitants of Mostar, to replace a medieval chain timber bridge. The towers at the end of the bridges were built in the 1440s but underwent a series of alterations later.
The bridge is associated with the intangible heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has been described in poems and songs and was painted in numerous works by folk artists and by prominent artists of this country and abroad. During the war, in 1992, this old bridge was damaged, but in 1993, it was completely destroyed by shelling, collapsing into Neretva River. The two towers were also damaged that same year. The bridge reopened again in 2004 and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005.
Old Bridge Museum is located at one end of Stari Most. We saw some people down by the river bank but we couldn’t because of limited time.
3) KOSKI MEHMET PASHA MOSQUE: Built in 1618, this is an Ottoman style mosque by River Neretva. The mosque is a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We couldn’t go inside but from outside it looked very grand with big dome and tall minaret. There are couple souvenir stores opposite of the mosque.