Although I’d suspect that most people have never even heard the name “Mostar,” a relatively small town in the Herzegovina region of Bosnia-Herzegovina, it turned to be one of the most intriguing places I’ve ever visited.
In addition to its magical Old Town district (including the immediately recognizable Stari Most bridge), Mostar is home to some fantastic mountain scenery, half a dozen ancient mosques, and what I found by far the most interesting, lingering damage from one of the most well known urban wars of the past half-century.
A short excerpt from Lonely Planet:
At dusk the lights of numerous mill-house restaurants twinkle delightfully across gushing streamlets. The impossibly quaint Kujundziluk ‘gold alley’ bustles joyously with trinket sellers. And in between, the Balkans’ most celebrated bridge forms a truly majestic stone arc between reincarnated medieval towers. It’s a magical scene.
Meanwhile, behind the delightful cobbled lanes of the attractively restored Ottoman quarter, a less palatable but equally unforgettable ‘attraction’ lies in observing the devastating urban scars that still recall the brutal 1990s conflict all too vividly.
After checking in to my lodging and cleaning myself up a bit, I was surprised to hear the sound of thousands of voices mixed with loud Arabic party music emanating from an open park just half a block away. It turned out to be graduation weekend; hundreds of Bosnian students ate, drank, and celebrated in virtually every park and square throughout the city – many of them dressed as if they’d just come straight from senior prom. Perhaps they had.
But despite the electric atmosphere, I decided that before even considering a night out I first had to check out the Old Town district and grab some night shots of the famous Stari Most bridge.
Wow, what a beautiful town. I honestly can’t remember finding a place this photogenic since Tzfat, Israel.
Glowing minarets hovering above, cobbled streets sprawling below, hundreds of open-air cafes and coffee shops playing everything from traditional Islamic music to just-released techno. For a town of less than 100,000, Mostar sure has a lot to offer.
It didn’t take me long to decide that this would be the perfect place to kick back and catch up on life before meeting Peder in Belgrade; for just 15 euros a night I had a great room with the most reliable Internet yet, and with almost the whole place to myself, I could be productive when I needed without feeling overly isolated when I didn’t. The room was spacious and convenient, with a full kitchen right across the hall. And because buses depart for Sarajevo every hour, I could always hop off at the blink of an eye.
…But why would I? Mostar is lovely 🙂
After my brief stroll through the city I returned to the hostel to change clothes and prepare for a night out, but upon meeting a group of three Croatian travelers chatting and drinking on the rooftop terrace, decided to join them for beers and hookah instead. We spent the next few hours just enjoying the warm springtime air and listening to the Arabic dance music from the square below, until around 12 midnight…when I officially turned 28 years old.
Eep, that’s a little bit scary.