The old bridge in Mostar

Old bridge in Mostar

This week’s #frifotos* theme is symbols. What first popped into my mind was Stari Most.

I think the old bridge in Mostar is one of the most powerful symbols there is: of multiculturalism, of how people of different religions can co-exist, how reconciliation can actually work.

There’s a Middle Eastern flavour to Mostar. No surprise, of course: this was, after all, an Ottoman city for centuries. Mostar is also a hauntingly beautiful city: the crystal-clear waters of the river Neretva, the green, verdant hills, the houses in soft colours – reds, faded greens, warm beige, the copper and brass wares of the street vendors shining in the afternoon sun…

Mostar, Sep 2004

Continuing along the streets, I spotted bullet holes here, a bombed house there. Remnants of the war were everywhere. Perhaps still?

Mostar, Sep 2004

The old bridge in Mostar

The original stone bridge across the Neretva was constructed by the Ottoman rulers of Bosnia-Herzegovina nearly 500 years ago – and brutally demolished by Bosnian-Croat forces in 1993. During the Balkan wars of the 1990s, Mostar suffered great losses, not least the iconic bridge. More than an architectural masterpiece was lost. Destroying the bridge meant people were separated from their friends and families for years.

The bridge is rebuilt now, using the same means and materials as the Ottoman architects did in the 1560s. Britain’s Prince Charles performed the solemn, official opening of the new bridge in July 2004. I took these photos two months later. The following year, UNESCO added the old bridge in Mostar to its list of cultural heritage with outstanding universal value.

Mostar, Sep 2004

On a more curious note, boys leap from the bridge into the surging icy-cold river below, haphazardly playing with their lives. My youngest daughter is fascinated. Jumping off the bridge is an ancient tradition, says Jusuf, a young man standing next to me. And sure enough, the first dive recorded is from 1664. To impress the girls? I wonder out loud. ‘No.’ Jusuf laughs. ‘To impress each other.’

 
unesco logo

The Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar is UNESCO World Heritage site.
Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.
 
 
*#FriFotos is a weekly Twitter chat founded by @EpsteinTravels where travellers share their favourite photos. Each week has a theme.

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16 Comments

  1. Leigh 22 March 2013 at 1851 - Reply

    What a beautiful bridge – and 11 years is a very long time without a bridge. I can never get over the destruction of war.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2013 at 1703 - Reply

      It really is beautiful – aesthetically and in every other way.

  2. Andrea 24 March 2013 at 1914 - Reply

    Gorgeous photos, Sophie!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 April 2013 at 1110 - Reply

      Thanks.

  3. tekkaus 25 March 2013 at 0926 - Reply

    Everything looks so anciently beautiful. 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 April 2013 at 1110 - Reply

      It’s a beautiful city.

  4. InsideJourneys 26 March 2013 at 0449 - Reply

    I just attended a conservation workshop and I’m glad to see that the bridge has been rebuilt using the same materials that were used in the 1500s.
    Beautiful city, would love to see it for myself.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 April 2013 at 1111 - Reply

      Yes, I liked that, too. I suppose the old methods are still the best.

  5. Salika Jay 26 March 2013 at 1158 - Reply

    It certainly is a beautiful bridge and a powerful symbol representing multiculturalism. It’d be nice to see a photo of boys jumping off the bridge to the water. I’ve seen a similar activity in Galle, Sri Lanka where boys jump to the ocean from the edge of a Dutch fortress. Instead of icy water, there are large rocks on the water. But they still do it, just for the trill and fun I guess.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 April 2013 at 1112 - Reply

      Crazy boys 🙂

  6. Turtle 26 March 2013 at 1611 - Reply

    Wow – I would be impressed with anyone jumping off that bridge! It looks really high (and beautiful, of course).

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 April 2013 at 1114 - Reply

      About 20 metres high…

  7. Mette - Italian Notes 27 March 2013 at 1538 - Reply

    Heard a lot about that bridge when it was destroyed. Great to know it has been reconstructed.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 April 2013 at 1114 - Reply

      Yes, I’m glad that was a priority.

  8. Kirsten 3 January 2015 at 1531 - Reply

    Beautiful post and photos. My b-i-law is from Sarajevo and fought during the war, so I am fascinated by his home country. I am glad you were able to enjoy the town of Mostar and share its beauty. I hope to visit myself someday.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 3 January 2015 at 2215 - Reply

      Thank you. I hope you can visit soon, too. Mostar is a beautiful and thought-provoking place.

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