The historic city of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina is both charming and complicated; idyllic and evocative. The first sight of the centerpiece bridge makes visitors swoon – but seeking out lesser-visited corners of the city can result in an everlasting love.
Old Bridge Mostar
When you visit Mostar, crossing the historic Old Bridge that spans the viridian Neretva River is an essential experience. Built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, the high-arched, stone bridge was destroyed in the Croat-Bosnian War in 1993. After the war, the Old Bridge was rebuilt to the same specifications of the original bridge – even using local Tenelia rock and the Ottoman method of construction.
Koski Mehmet-Pasha Mosque Mostar
Mostar is home to many mosques – just look at the horizon and count the number of minarets piercing the sky. The 17th century Koski Mehmet-Pasha Mosque (built in 1617) is the second biggest mosque in the city and is on the left bank of the Neretva, just upriver from the Old Bridge.
Visitors (not required to wear head coverings or remove shoes) are welcome inside the mosque and can climb the 88 stairs of the minaret for 360 degree views of Mostar. For those who fear heights and confined spaces, the views from the riverside beside the mosque are also lovely (but still need a ticket).
Peace Bell Tower Mostar
The church bell tower is the tallest structure in the city, standing at 352 feet. It was completed in 2000 and there is some contention that the soaring height of the tower means to emphasize the Catholic church's presence in Mostar, fueling the dissonance still lingering from the Croat-Bosnian War. However, many locals in Mostar refer to the tower as the Tower of Peace; as the church assures peace and co-existence were the intention.
Next to the bell tower is the Franciscan Church of Saints Peter and Paul – also rebuilt in 2000 – which resembles an airplane hangar more than a church and has a plain façade that is mimicked on the interior, as well. There is an elevator inside the bell tower that takes visitors to the height of 262 feet for views over the city.
Pocitelj village near Mostar
Located about 30 kilometers south of Mostar along the banks of the Neretva River is the village of Pocitelj. With high hills, the land has long-held strategic significance. Although many of the current structures – the mosque, religious school, bathhouse and houses – were damaged in the war and had to be reconstructed, the fortress at the top of the hill was left unscathed. For phenomenal views over the village and river, climb to the top of the tower and peer through the windows.
Blagaj Dervish Monastery
Built in 1520, Blagaj Tekija (or Tekke)– a Dervish monastery – stands at the base of a high cliff at the mouth of the Buna River karstic spring, Vrelo Bune. The house, used by various orders over time, is a place to pray – although, today, it also functions as a tourist site. After touring Blagaj Tekija, find a place along the river to enjoy a Bosnian coffee or meal and enjoy the peacefulness.