Another amazing city in this country
02.03.2013 - 02.03.2013
View Semester Break, pt. 1 on kmclean's travel map.
We took a day trip to Mostar from Sarajevo while we were there, it turned out to be a really great city. There’s a train twice a day which we used to get there and the ride was beautiful, going through and around mountains and valleys. There’s bus service every few hours between Sarajevo and Mostar, which made it easy for us to get back. It felt like one day was enough time to see it since it’s not very big. The main thing to see is the old town, and of course the Old Bridge. The old city has been mostly restored since the war, but Mostar was one of the most badly damaged cities, and it shows. Walking through the newer part of the city is really heavy. There’s almost literally one building still in ruins for every building that’s been restored. The damage is everywhere, and since it hasn’t really been cleaned up you can really see how brutal the war must have been.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has tons of mountains, which makes it really beautiful during times of peace, the locals say, but during wartime it’s a curse because the cities are so vulnerable. Mostar, like Sarajevo, is surrounded by mountains with a river running through the city. Right now it makes for a beautiful landscape, but during the war the enemy armies occupied the mountains and could easily terrorize the defenseless city from above. The coldest, harshest part of the war in Mostar was the destruction of the old bridge, which had been standing since 1566, built by the Ottomans. It wasn’t collateral damage – it took over one week of deliberate attacks on the bridge before it fell, and for the people of Herzegovina, it was just once more slap in the face, one more monument gone, and one more piece of their heritage destroyed.
If you’re ever in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mostar is definitely worth a visit. It’s easily doable as a daytrip from Sarajevo, but it’s also a good stop-over on the way to Montenegro or Croatia – I wish we'd had enough time to keep going on to Dubrovnik! It’s a beautiful city, but still very raw. It’s better than Sarajevo if you really want to see what the war was like, but that makes it a less happy place to spend a lot of time. It’s amazing to see how people have moved on, though, and how they're working every day to get back on their feet.