It is an ongoing challenge to try and understand the complex history of this region, and in the light of this history to reflect on all we saw and experienced in 5 short days exploring Mostar and Sarajevo in Bosnia Herzegovina.
In Mostar is all about the bridge! Tourists flock to Mostar to see the historic cobbled foot bridge that crosses the river. Bombed during the war of the 1990’s, it has been restored and in now seen as a Bridge of Hope, joining the Muslim old town with the Roman Catholic new town.
Mostar is small, charming with winding cobbled lanes that snake along the rivers, merchants selling tourist wares from stalls lining the walkways. Bells ring from church towers and muslims are called to prayer from the minarets. This is in a country that understands itself to be tolerant of differences. Stories of mixed marriages abound.
Mostar's catholic population live on one side of the bridge and the muslims on the other in the old town The country has a 44% unemployment rate, 20% of the people live below the poverty line.
The people hosted us in their small inns and B&B’s could not have been friendlier, generous in their hospitality and extending beyond what was necessary. They were also forthcoming and shared that the divisiveness caused by the war is not entirely over. Their was a seige that cut off the residence of the old town and caused much suffering. There are some to this day who have not and will not cross over to the other side, testimony to the ongoing damage that the politics and nationalism have instilled.
Choose your impression of Mostar. Maybe it is both.