Monday, March 2, 2020

The Star of Bosnia- Mostar

Mostar- Stari Most
Undoubtedly, one of the most spectacular towns in the Balkan region is Mostar, the fifth largest town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After leaving Pocitelj, about which I had described in the earlier post we continued our journey to Mostar. The 30 km long journey from Pocitelj took just less than an hour often going past quaint villages and orange groves laden with fruit. 
The Catholic Church of St Peter and Paul
The driver stopped the station wagon near the famous Catholic Church and Franciscan monastery of St Peter and Paul. It was a huge imposing structure with a towering bell tower. He then took upon the task to show us around the town. A short pleasant walk brought us to the Old Town from where we could see the landmark Stari Most( The Old Bridge) over the River Neverata.

The Old Bridge Stari Most
 The town Mostar got its name as '' the city pf bridge keepers"(Mostari) who guarded the Old Bridge of Mostar, The bridge was constructed during the 16th  century during the Ottoman rule. It is one of the most visited sites in the Balkan region. It is an exemplary piece of Islamic architecture. This Old Bridge weathered several storms for 427 years before it was struck by the invading Croatian forces on 9 Nov 1993 and suffered heavy damage. Subsequently, a project was undertaken to restore the old glory and the new bridge was thrown open on 23 July 2004. The bridge served as an important trade link between the two banks of the River Neretva which linked with Croatia n one side and the mineral-rich Bosnia on the other.
A close view of Stari Most
 The Stone Bridge was built by Mimar Hydruddin and has an arch like a rainbow facing the sky extending between the two high stone cliffs. The bridge has a span of 28.7m and is at a height of 21m. Some strong-hearted divers can be seen diving from the bridge into the river with freezing cold waters during the summer months by charging money from the spectators.
A Bird's Eye View of Mostar
There are several other very impressive buildings in different styles of architecture like the Italian Franciscan Church, the Ottoman Muslibegovica house, the Dalmatian Corovic House, and the Orthodox Church.
The Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque
Out of the 13 mosques built during the 16th and 17th century now, only six remains and the rest were lost in bombardment and wars to pursue different ideologies. A number of trading houses and tanneries built-in stones still exist. The Cejvan Cehaj Mosque, built-in 1552 is the oldest mosque in the town. The Koski Mehmed Pasha mosque built-in 1617 is open to visitors. The minaret can also be accessed by payment of a fee from where the splendid views of the town can be seen. Nearby is the Tepa market where the fresh produce of the region is sold.
The Stone cobbled Old Bazaar
 There is an Old Bazar around the Old Bridge that is called Kukundziluk named after the goldsmiths who had shops here. Now mostly the fruit sellers, painters and sweet shops that make Bakwala can be seen here. A walk on the cobbled streets of the Old Town gives a glimpse of the rich culture and history of the place. Strong Muslim influence can be seen in this little town.

The Noteworthy buildings in Mostar
The scars of the war fought can be seen even to this day in the form of damaged buildings and structures around the town. Some other noteworthy buildings that exist here are the Bishop's Ordinirate building, the remains of an early Christian basilica, the Clock Tower, the Jewish Synagogue, the Crooked bridge and a few others.

A view of the Mosque and Neretva River
A few hours spent in the little town were the golden hours of life to discover this rare beauty. What was in store was a divine gift which was not in the itinerary but a result of a query with the driver who was kind enough to take us to a very important place of Christian pilgrimage. I will take the readers on a virtual tour to the place in my next blog post

 PS- All the pictures are mine