In the early 1990s, Bosnia and Herzegovina fell on hard times. A war erupted that damaged some of the region’s most treasured structures, including a bridge that was originally constructed in the 1400s. The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire Suleiman the Magnificent oversaw the construction of a rounded bridge so distinctive that the town of Mostar became synonymous with the stately structure.
Thankfully, Stari Most—otherwise known as the Old Bridge—was fully restored in 2004. Stari Most offers a magnificent view of the placid Neretva River, a majestic mountain range, and numerous quaint buildings that date back to the glory days of the Ottoman Empire. Most of Mostar’s skyline dates back centuries, but there are also a few well-integrated modern spaces that have appeared in recent years.
Mostar features a small yet charming cobblestone street that is lined with vendors selling silver tea sets, scarves, and jewelry. Visitors can saunter through Old Town and view old buildings that have been lovingly restored. Old town is home to several delectable restaurants that serve regional food with a modern twist such as stuffed grapes leaves, kebabs, and spicy sausage.
If you’re curious about Mostar’s historical ties to the Ottoman Empire, you can tour the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque. The Mosque features rounded ceilings painted with ornate patterns, elaborate rugs, and brightly colored windows. Visitors can climb the mosque’s minaret for a panoramic view of Mostar.
The Old Bridge has a little cousin known as the Crooked Bridge. The Crooked Bridge was constructed before the Old Bridge so that the architect could perfect his plans. The name is a bit misleading because the Crooked Bridge is hardly crooked. It is an architectural marvel, much like the Old Bridge. A shallow tributary of the Neretva River flows beneath the Crooked Bridge.
If you enjoy straying from the beaten path, you should certainly consider a trip to the Partisan Memorial Cemetery. Designed in the late 1960s by progressive architect Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Partisan Memorial Cemetery is dedicated to Yugoslavian soldiers who perished battling Nazis. The Partisan Memorial Cemetery has a unique layered design that features stone walls, gravestones shaped like puzzle pieces, and a well with water designed to flow throughout the cemetery like tears.
Mostar is an enchanted town that is the perfect mix of old and new. Much like the reconstructed Old Bridge, Mostar is full of reverence for the past and hope for the future.