Mostar, Bosnia: Destination #9
Mostar is located on the Neretva River and is named after the bridge keepers who guarded the Stari Most Bridge (Old Bridge) in the medieval times.
We made a day trip to Mostar after leaving Split and on the way to Kotor, Montenegro!
Traveling distance from other nearby cities:
- Split, Croatia (2 hours, 15 minutes)
- Dubrovnik, Croatia (2 hours, 15 minutes)
- Kotor, Montenegro (3 hours)
- Sarajevo, Bosnia (2 hours)
When Yugoslavia broke up in 1991, Croatia was split into two, leaving 12 miles of coastline (known as the Neum Corridor) to Bosnia & Herzegovina. The Peljesac Bridge will eventually connect Croatia so that going through Bosnia is not necessary; however, the bridge has not been completed.
As of 2020, in order to get to Dubrovnik you HAVE TO change borders anyways so you might as well travel a little further inland to Mostar– you will be happy you did 🙂
Mostar, Bosnia is a great place to stay for the night or just to visit for a day trip, even in the rain!
The original Stari Most Bridge was built by the Ottomans in the 16th century and is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most visited landmarks.
Construction of the bridge was initially complete in 1566 and is considered an exemplary piece of Islamic architectural achievement in the Ottoman controlled Balkans.
During the armed conflict in the Bosnian War in the 1990s, the bridge was destroyed. Re-contruction was initiated in 1999 and completed by July 2004.
The current single arch stone bridge is an exact replica of the original bridge that stood for over 400 years.
The Stari Most Bridge area of the old city of Mostar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 2005.
The bridge is steep and spans approximately 94 feet across the Neretva River with a 69-80 ft. drop to the water below depending on the water levels.
The Halebija and Tara Towers have stood in the background of the bridge as guardian watchtowers and warehouses for ammunition, with the Tara Tower now housing the Museum of the Old Bridge.
On both sides of the bridge, there are endless markets and stores along the cobblestone path.
The streets that line the Stari Most Bridge are filled with clinking and hammering of metals including Mostar’s top exporters– copper and aluminum.
Many of the shops still sell authentic paintings and copper or bronze carvings of the Stari Most Bridge, pomegranates (the natural symbol of Herzegovnia) or the stećaks (medieval tombstones).
We walked up and down the streets several times until we found *the one* that we wanted to add to our travel wall art collection at home.
And then we fell in love with THIS shop!
Here is Jeff and I with Mr. Badžak himself, a business owner whose family has owned this store next to the Stari Most bridge since 1918.
He showed us photos of his family (and photos of the exact shop we were standing in) before and during the war. He was so proud of his town, heritage and family name.
He told us his version of the events that took place when Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia, and when the Stari Most Bridge was bombed November 1993.
I’m thankful for our chance to meet Mr. Badžak and learn some history of Mostar directly from him!
When crossing over the Stari Most Bridge, you can’t help but to notice the beautiful mosque towering over the left bank of the Nerteva River.
Originally built in 1617, the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque was destroyed in the Bosnian War of the 1990s then completely reconstructed by 2001.
There is an option to climb the 89 steps to the top of the minaret (which is 1000% recommended!)
*The spiral staircase is NOT for the claustrophobic… it is one-person wide and occasionally has slit windows to let in air. When coming down, you pretty much have to come down backwards.
THE VIEW IS INCREDIBLE THOUGH and absolutely worth the 12KM ticket (~$6.80USD) for a birds eye view of the Old Town Bridge, complete with a 360* view of Mostar with the rushing Neretva River below.
The views from the top of Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque were absolutely breathtaking.
This video taken at the top the minuret overlooking the Stari Most Bridge captures another one of my most favorite moments of the entire trip! ⬇️
All I could say was WOW!!
The platform at the top of the minaret gives 360* panoramic views of Mostar.
It was hard to comprehend all the history in this exact place.
The rain really started to pick up, so we headed indoors for a Bosnian lunch and coffee break.
We found ourselves on the top floor of a restaurant overlooking the bridge — it was an great spot to have lunch!
When the rain let up, we headed back to the bridge to watch locals jump ~75 feet into the rushing river waters (on purpose).
Yes, you can jump IF YOU DARE….
Jumping from the Stari Most bridge is seen as a ‘right of passage’ for local men.
**Instead of risking injury, you can also donate/pay a few Bosnian Marks ($) to the local jumpers and they will jump in the river all day long for your viewing pleasures! 😉
It was raining, but that didn’t stop anyone.
Below is the video Jeff captured of a local Stari Most Bridge jumper in rain!
The Start Most Bridge is well known for its Red Bull diving events and local jumpers. It’s pretty crazy watching in anticipation as someone jumps off a bridge in the river the below, for fun!
The annual Stari Most Bridge Jump and Red Bull diving competition takes place typically in late July and can be observed from the rock shore below.
I am so thankful we were able to visit Mostar during our road trip!
I underestimated how much I would quickly fall in love Bosnia. My short time here definitely opened a can of travel worms and I can wait to explore other parts of this region.
With respect, it is not lost on us that 1993 is very recent– We must not ever forget what happened here in both Croatia and Bosnia.
*Bonus memory: We may or may not have received a Bosnian speeding ticket (even though we were NOT speeding!!)
Oh well. Easy ~$12 fix (all paid in cash on the spot) and we were on our way to Montenegro!
Next stop –> Destination #10: Kotor, Montenegro 🇲🇪