THE BRIDGE FROM THE PAST TO THE FUTURE: MOSTAR

A MORE IMPRESSIVE BRIDGE AT THE HEART OF THE IMPRESSIVE CITY OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA…

According to a tradition in the Balkans, men of the city, in order to prove their bravery to their fiancé, jumped into the freezing cold river from a bridge over 20 meters high before the wedding. The bridge we will be telling you about it here is no ordinary bridge, of course. A history that is reanimated with lights at nights and with the stones painted to gold at sunsets… An even more impressive bridge in the heart of Mostar than the impressive city of Bosnia-Herzegovina itself takes place… It is the Balkans’ famous Mostar Bridge that curves like a crown on the Neretva River. It is known as Stari Most in Bosnian. “Most” means a bridge in Bosnian; “Stari Most” means the old bridge.

From tradition to tourism
The Bridge of Mostar has always been the reason for the existence of the city. At the same time, the bridge is an important symbol of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the pain that was experienced in Bosnia during the wartime. Today, it is the milestone of tourism. The heir to the tradition of “bridge diving”, now a professional sport, is the athletic youth of the Bridge Diving Club. They climb to the bridge and do not jump until a certain amount of money is collected from the viewers. If one person pays for the whole amount, that person gets the opportunity to watch them jump from Čardak Caffe, and a club member interprets the jumps. If you can be a little more generous and brave, you can jump too after being trained in the club!

The symbol of grace and sorrow
See the Bridge of Mostar at twilight. In the summer, when the daily visitors leave, you will see another face of the bridge waiting for you. The bridge, which looks like a crescent between the towers, is not only enchanting with its elegance but also bringing old memories to surface as a witness of the painful years. During the civil war that began on November 9, 1993, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the giant stones of the bridge that were collapsed due to Croatian artillery fire were buried in the waters of the Neretva River. It is possible to observe the ruins of this history, which had survived over four generations, in many places in Mostar.

Epic stones
While the Neretva River flows towards the Adriatic Sea, it passes through many beautiful cities and villages. Mostar is one of them. Bosnia was taken and turned into a sanjak by the Ottomans in 1463 and became an important end state after 1580. Mostar, becoming the temporary center of the sanjak in 1530, developed very much at that time. It is decided to build a new stone bridge over the Neretva River, instead of the old wooden bridge carried by chains. Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent assigned Mimar (Architect) Hayrüddin, a student of Mimar Sinan, to this position and sent him to Mostar in 1557. Completed in 1566, 24 meters high, 30 meters long and 4 meters wide, Mostar Bridge has a distinct place among the Ottoman stone bridges. The original stones of the bridge were damaged by bombings and river water and the bridge was not in a condition to be used. Even though the quarry where the original stones of the bridge were brought from was closed, it was reopened only for this purpose and the bridge was rebuilt in accordance with the original. The bridge was opened in 2004 by Prince Charles with a ceremony attended by representatives of many countries, including Turkey, and in 2005, UNESCO included the bridge in the World Heritage List. The wartime memorial is exhibited at the Old Bridge Museum located in the eastern part of the bridge, which is an engineering wonder of the era.

Destination: The Balkans
One of the most popular destinations in recent years, especially for the Turks, is Mostar, the famous city of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is also possible to take day trips to Mostar, where many Ottoman works are located such as bridges, mosques, and bazaars. Many places are within walking distance because it is not a big city. The Ottoman influence is quite evident in neighborhoods, fountains, madrasahs, imarets, baths, bazaars, and inns, as well as a clock tower (famous Sahat-kula). Locals who adopted Islam by the arrival of the Ottomans and Turkish immigrants constitute the majority of the population. The first mosque was built in 1475. Today, 14 of the 36 mosques built in the Ottoman period are still standing. The most important mosque in Mostar is the Karagöz Bey Mosque (Karadoz Begova Dzamija), a work of Mimar Sinan. The mosque that is dating from 1557 is striking with its ornamental dome and tall minaret. It was completely destroyed in 1992, rebuilt and reopened later. In the madrasah next to the mosque, the oldest public library of Mostar takes place. Another mosque that was damaged in the battle and rebuilt is on a rocky place near the Neretva River, the second-largest mosque in the city; the view of the old settlement from the Koski Mehmet Pasha Mosque, dating from 1618, and even from its minaret is great.

The Ottoman legacy
Successfully preserved Turkish House or Biscevica House belongs to 1635. The three rooms of the house are furnished with carpets and carved wooden furniture. The bay window of the house overlooking the river is filled with sunlight in the evening. If you want to compare some of the same kind of structures, check out the Kajtaz House and Müslüm Bey Mansion (Muslibegović House) built in larger sizes for merchants and landowners. The Kajtaz House, behind the high walls, is Mostar’s most historic home. This was the harem part of the farmhouse built for a judge in the 16th century. Today, the house, under UNESCO protection, still belongs to the same family and many of the furnishing pieces are in good condition. Cool with homemade lemonade in the shade of the grapevine and palm trees in the courtyard. Müslüm Bey Mansion is open for visitors and accommodation.

Variety and localness
In the second half of the 16th century, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs lived in Mostar as well as the Muslim Bosnian majority. There are a Serbian Orthodox Church and a Catholic Church in the city. Partizan Abidesi, which was built for those who died while defending Mostar in the World War II, is an impressive monumental cemetery. One of the bazaars where coppersmiths, tailors, and tanners were found in the old times was Copper Bazaar (Kujundžiluk). The cobblestone walkway, which runs from both sides of the river, takes you to the Mostar Bridge. Since there are 500 shops and workshops in the commercial district of the city, it is called the “golden gate” here. Today, it is full of inviting restaurants and cafés as well as many workshops and venues where you can find souvenirs and local artworks. Despite all the local colors, early in the morning, you will get more pleasure when the shops are closed.

PHOTO SPOT
The view from the 75-meter high bell tower of the Franciscan Monastery is breathtaking.

CAR RENTAL
Economical car rentals with support during the length of your trip. OQLA d.o.o (+387 61227009, serves also in Turkish).

FLAVOR STOP
The Mostar cuisine, which is a synthesis of the Ottoman, Balkan, and the Mediterranean cuisines, is worth tasting.