Sarajevo and Mostar: great city trip destinations
Kotor (Montenegro), January 5th 2014

When people are considering a city trip in Europe, most people think about Barcelona, Rome, London, Paris, or maybe Budapest or Prague. But if you want something very different and you are a little bit adventurous, you could consider the combination of Sarajevo and Mostar. Sarajevo and Mostar? Aren’t these two of the cities in Bosnia & Herzegovina that were completely destroyed during the Balkan war in the 90s at the end of the previous century? Yes they are. But time has not stood still since. The war is over, Bosnia & Herzegovina is now an independent country, and the cities are rebuilt in all its glory. And the term "all its glory" is consciously chosen. Both cities are beautiful, cosy, and breathe in all facets an 'East meets West' atmosphere.

Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina and was in 1984 the proud host of the Olympic Winter Games. Less than a decade later, the same city was, as large parts of the Balkan, the scene of a horrific civil war. Between 1992 and 1995, the Bosnian Serbs led by Ratko Mladic, besieged the city. From the hills that surround the city, they shot on all that that moved. More than 10,000 people died and another 50,000 were injured. It was a terrible time for the people of Sarajevo.

View on Sarajevo

But that time is over. The city has been restored at a breakneck pace, and there is surprisingly little evidence of the misery that has happened here, now twenty years ago. The large cemeteries with an almost infinite number of white tombstones are silent witnesses of those terrible times. The centre of Sarajevo is cosy with narrow streets and small squares with nice coffee shops. The so-called "Turkish Quarter ' is the atmospheric epicentre of the city, with a beautiful old mosque, small restaurants, the bazaar, and many souvenir shops with as many knickknacks to buy. Sarajevo is a particularly nice destination where the oriental atmosphere is present in considerable degree.

It is a three hour drive from Sarajevo to Mostar, which is located southwest of Sarajevo. The drive is beautiful and runs through rugged mountains and to a large extent along the Neretva River, which eventually runs through Mostar and divides this small town into two parts. Mostar is located in the Herzegovina part of Bosnia & Herzegovina, and this area of the country has a Mediterranean climate. Barren and rugged mountains intermingled with beautiful river valleys, and in this part of Bosnia & Herzegovina, grapes (incl. the accompanying wine) and citrus fruits are grown successfully.

The fabulous old stone bridge of Mostar

Mostar is undoubtedly one of the most magical destinations in the Balkans. This incredibly beautiful medieval town has a jewel in the crown, in the form of a fabulous slender medieval stone bridge that elegantly spans the Neretva River and connects two medieval towers. This is a magical place, especially in the moments just before and after sunset. Mostar literally means 'bridge keeper' and was in the Middle Ages an important place to cross the river. This important role meant that many people came to this Mostar to earn a living. A wide range of craft people settled here (around 30 guilds). In 1566 the then wobbling suspension bridge was replaced by a stone bridge which was seen at that time as one of the world’s most extraordinary pieces of engineering.

The bridge survived the two World Wars, but the Balkan War was too much for him . After 427 years, the bridge was destroyed in November 1993 by Bosnian -Croat artillery. In 1995 the town was completely destroyed. With foreign aid, the Old Town rebuilt in honour. The old bridge was rebuilt using 16th-century building techniques, and since 2004 the bridge connects the two parts of the sublime Old Town again. Yes, both Sarajevo and Mostar are touristy, but the quantity of tourists are not too bad yet, especially when you can visit these place outside the high season (European summer). Absolutely recommended.

The Mula Mustafe Baseskije Blv in Sarajevo
White gravestones as reminder of the terrible Balkan Civil War
A stop on the journey from Sarajevo to Mostar
The old town of Mostar

Ruined building just outside the old city center of Mostar

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