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Swing at the end of the world
South America · Ecuador
Jul 11, 2019 3 min read
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Mostar - bewitching Balkan Orient

Within a driving distance from the Croatian resorts of Makarska or Dubrovnik lies a city where you literally stumble over monuments. Mostar in the south of Bosnia and Herzegovina has a glorious as well as a horrible past that is evident at every step. The crooked stone streets laced with scents from local pubs and the voices of artisans selling their products have not changed much since the Ottoman Empire.

Old bridge - a bridge that was not

Mostar’s Old Bridge is one of the few monuments that have been listed twice on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The current bridge is a replica of the original Old Bridge, which stood here for over 400 years before it was destroyed in 1993 during the civil war by Croatian grenades. The original one was built in 1566 and the two guard towers at the ends of the 28.7 meter long abyss were not reunited until 2004. At that time, the bridge with the contribution of several countries such as Japan or the Netherlands by the old Turkish stone-by-stone method was rebuilt. And including his earlier imperfections. Today it is again the main landmark of Mostar and locals prove their masculinity by jumping into the water from a height of about 20 meters or more. Do not think that jumping competitions are some kind of modern madness, it is a Mostar tradition that has been cultivated since Ottoman times.

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Curving Bridge - A Lajka between bridges

Kriva čuprija looks like a miniature version of the main bridge, but in fact it is the oldest bridge in Mostar. The crooked bridge served as a test rabbit in the 16th century before the construction of the first Old Bridge. The civil war also signed on it. But with the help of Luxembourg, it was reconstructed. And it’s good. If you are looking for picturesque restaurants and cafes overlooking the river somewhat away from the center, you will find them just around the Kriva čuprija bridge and the Radbolja River, which flows into Neretva. The Austro-Hungarian Government, under which the area fell, also contributed three other bridges across Neretva. Even though they are remarkably long and nice, they cannot match the “original” Turkish ones.

Turkish heritage

To claim that this or that is as old as Mostar himself is a cliché. However, it is not far from the truth in the Kujundziluk street market. The market is still a living center of trade, not only with souvenirs and local handicrafts. It is primarily a reminder of the numerous merchant caravans that flowed from the Middle East across Mostar and whose merchants were looking for overnight in Mostar’s streets.

The wealthier left their houses in the city. The most remarkable are the Kajtaz House and Bišćević House. Both are respectably preserved and accessible to tourists. While Bišćevića serves as an open-air museum of the Turkish way of life from times past, Kajtaz House has its permanent residents, with whom you can arrange a guided tour. The abode is also listed as a UNESCO monument, so there is much to see.

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Clash of cultures

Mostar was and will be a place where nation and church play their part. In addition to the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church has its center in the center as well as three mosques - Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque, Ceyvan Ćehaj Mosque and Karađoz-beg Mosque. The memento of the Civil War is not only memorial stones, but also bullet holes in many facades. Nevertheless, Mostar is inwardly the same as it was during the reign of the Ottoman - the center of a lively business where people of different origins and beliefs come and go. They leave something, take something.

Mostar is like a box of chocolates where everyone can find it. If you are not captivated by the city’s mosques, head to the outskirts of Mostar, where the Buna River flows from the rock and the old Dervish Monastery of Blagaj from the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries is on the shore. It serves as a museum and if you are not spiritually affected by its architecture, then its surroundings certainly.

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