One of my favourite images for 2019 was one of the Stari Most. I think its special beauty and story is worth a post of its own.
Ever since I was a child I have wanted to see this city and its magnificent bridge. But the Old Bridge was destroyed on 9 November 1993 during the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I was devastated to see the war ruining so many people’s lives, the beautiful city and the famous bridge. In my classes, I had several students whose whole family had fled this area trying to escape the terrible war. I am glad they found a new, safer home in Sweden.
Mostar was named after the bridge keepers (mostari) who in medieval times guarded the bridge. The Old Bridge is today one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most visited landmarks. They say the dangerous jump from the bridge into the cold Neretva waters is still a rite of passage for boys in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We did not see anyone jumping though, but I guess the waters are even more cold this season…
More history: When the town was fortified between 1520 and 1566, the original wooden bridge was rebuilt in stone. Stari Most was erected in 1566 on the orders of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and spanning 28 meters of the Neretva river (92 feet) and 20 meters (66 feet) above the water level, it quickly became a wonder in its own time.
A monumental project to rebuild the Old Bridge and restore surrounding structures and historic neighbourhoods was initiated in 1999 and mostly completed by Spring 2004. In July 2005, UNESCO inscribed the Stari Most and its closest vicinity onto the World Heritage List.
This single-arch stone bridge is an exact replica of the original bridge that stood for over 400 years and was designed by Hajrudin, a student of the great Ottoman architect Sinan. The two towers, Halebija and Tara, have always housed the guardians of the bridge and during Ottoman times they were storehouses for ammunition.
Crossing from the west bank to the east you’ll also be crossing the ancient point where East and West symbolically met. To the right is the oldest mosque in Mostar: the Cejvan Cehaj Mosque built in 1552.
A must is also the visit to Old Bazar Kujundziluk, an Ottoman-era market that maintains its original atmosphere with cobblestone roads and narrow streets lined with artisan shops –
– and of course – Cats.
It may have been rainy some days on our tour, but we were very grateful to visit the Balkans during off season – letting us thoroughly enjoy and contemplate their many historic gems.