Mostar: A Tale of Two Cities

Mostar was one of those destinations that really surprised us, from our initial first impression of its poor dilapidated bullet hole ridden suburbs, to its picture perfect Old Town presided over by the famous Stari Most and the turquoise river that runs through it. In that respect, it truly was a tale of two cities, as the contrast between the area reserved mainly for tourists and the rest of Mostar was huge.

A city still recovering

If you are staying at a hostel, chances are you won’t be close to the Old Town. This will give you a first-hand experience of the reality of life in Mostar for the locals. Despite the war having ended over twenty years ago, the scars of the trauma inflicted on the bosniaks is very much present around the city. It’s extremely sobering walking around and seeing the shells of once beautiful buildings now left to rot, and the myriad of bullet holes decorating the majority of the buildings. It’s also hard to ignore the sheer number of graveyards, all with graves dated 1993-1995 of mostly young men no older than their early twenties.

Bullet hole ridden buildings still scarred from the war.

Bullet hole ridden buildings still scarred from the war.

Stari Most

However, just around the corner it feels like you’re in a completely different place! Mostar Old Town was even more beautiful than in pictures, with cobbled streets filled with tourists sampling the delicious 1BAM (€0.50) gelato, (50 cents ono!!) live music and the prettiest market stalls.

Mostar Old Town

Mostar Old Town

The atmosphere couldn’t be more different from where we were staying, and we soon made our way to the jewel of Mostar – Stari Most. It looked like something out of a fairy tale!

Stari Most in all its glory!

Stari Most in all its glory!

It was an absolute delight to dip our feet in the refreshing water during the 43 degree heatwave, and gained a furry companion in the process!

We were even joined by this big guy.

We were even joined by this big guy.

We decided then to explore other parts of Mostar and were pleasantly surprised when we discovered the less touristy but still bustling part of town, full of families sat outside bars and cafes enjoying a momentary lull in the blistering heat! It was a lovely ambience and a break from the clearly tourist-centred Old Town.

Mostar Old Town in the distance.

Mostar Old Town in the distance.

Mostar is a beautiful place but it is important to keep in mind that the insta-worthy pictures of its picturesque Old Town are not an accurate reflection of the city in its entirety. Here beggar children foraging in bins are as commonplace as the relentless influx of tourists that besiege the old town.  So when you visit Mostar, admire its beauty but keep in mind your privileged position as a tourist and be respectful of the suffering generations of these people have endured.

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Kieron Marshall

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