Today I will take you on a virtual walk through Mostar city, more specifically through the old part of the town. Whether you're a history lover or not, the historical part of Mostar city will surely impress you. There is a reason why this place is so popular. It's an utterly beautiful area and it's extremely photogenic. I'm very excited I'll be sharing it with you today. Moreover, I'm going to give you some outfit tips for sightseeing the old bridge and the old city. As some of you know, I'm currently based in Mostar. One the benefits of being Mostar based is that the gorgeous historical centre is always available to me (Click here to see my most recent blog post shot at old bridge in Mostar) and that means I can give you good insider tips too.
These photographs were all taken last Sunday when we decided to go for a walk through the old city after mass. We walked from the Saint Peter and Paul church and monastery to the old bridge, through the old town and finished our walk by crossing another bridge. Speaking of which, it is probably a good idea to park at Saint Peter and Paul church parking because it is only a two minute walk from the old bridge and it's easy to find. Remember I told you about how the church tower is quite tall? This is where we parked the first time I came to apply at the University here, years ago. Prior to that, I've been in Mostar only once, as a three year old...and now I live in this town. Time really flies! Anyhow, old bridge is really easy to find: once you get to the above mentioned church all you need to do is cross the road and you can walk straight to old bridge in a minute or two. If you're staying in some other part of the time, finding it won't be that difficult either. Just ask for directions or use technology to find it for you. Like many cities in Europe, Mostar is quite small, so navigating and exploring it on food is a peace of cake.
OUTFIT TIPS FOR SIGHTSEEING
My first advice to you would be to wear flats. As you can see in the photographs above, the pavements in historical part of Mostar city are made from stones. These lovely rocks were probably taken from the banks of Neretva river. As beautiful as they are, they're not easy to walk on. It's literally impossible to wear heels here. I once forgot to switch my heels for flats and let me tell you the walk to the souvenir shop (that was where I was heading) was a challenging once (remember this heels worn with socks outfit from last year? That's the one I'm referring to). My second advice would be to dress for the weather. Mostar can be extremely hot in spring and summer time. This time we were lucky as the weather was quite fresh. Moreover, we strolled trough the old town while the sun was setting (ideal time to do it btw) so we weren't hot. My third and final advice would be to consider the places you plan on visiting. If you're planning on sightseeing religious institutions, buildings or temples of any sorts (be it mosques or churches), it is a good idea to bring an extra layer or a long scarf so that you can be decent. As everywhere else in the world, there is a dress code for religious establishments. It is not particularly strict, but wearing a tank top and very short shorts or mini skirts is definitely a no. Just keep that in mind or bring some extra layers and to wear breathable fabrics. If you're visiting in summer time, I definitely recommend wearing a hat. Sunscreen is a must. Don't think I don't wear sunscreen because my face is dark. I do wear it but sun is so strong here it is impossible not to get a tan. In fact, if it is possible I would recommend you to avoid the sun when it is at its strongest, and that means during 11 am to 4 pm. My top tip would be to get up earlier or go for a walk later in the afternoon. This will make choosing your outfit and avoiding the overheating easier.
THE STORY OF MY OUTFIT
As you can see, my outfit is a very comfortable one. It is also a good example of shopping's one closet, sometimes I really believe in and keep going about in my posts. Anyhow, for 'sightseeing in my own town' I wore a green long sleeved t-shirt I painted myself. As you might have noticed, I quite enjoy painting on clothes and accessories with textile paints (If you want to try painting with textile paints and you're looking for inspiration, feel free to check out some my previous DIY posts here, here, here, here and here.) The yellow blazer is a vintage piece I adore and wear often. I paired this old pair jeans with moccasins (because as I explained flats are a must). I'm not a fan of flats because I find them uncomfortable but there is one exception: I do like a good pair of moccasins. We need to thank the Native Americans over and over again for coming up with them. They are such a beautiful and comfortable shoe, aren't they? You've seen this burgundy leather bag featured on blog many times. I often pair it with this yellow blazer because I enjoy the colour contrast.
THE OLD BRIDGE IN MOSTAR, ONE OF THE SYMBOLS OF THE CITY
What to say about the old bridge that hasn't been said before? Even city itself was named after the bridge. Most means 'a bridge' in Slavic languages of the region, and suffix -ar usually refers to an occupation. Hence literally translated 'mostar' would mean the person who collects the fee for crossing the bridge. In the past, people crossing the bridge had to pay a fee but nowadays you can visit all the bridge in Mostar for free. The Old Bridge in Mostar is possibly the most famous bridge in Mostar city. It is a rebuild Ottoman bridge, dating back to the 16th century. It is easily recognizable and often referred to as Mostar bridge (or more frequently simply as Old Bridge). Much of the historical area was destroyed in the nineties war but the bridge has been fully rebuild. Historical part of the city surrounding this Old Bridge has been reconstructed as well. Many tourists visit the Old Bridge area, and you can find many restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops at every corner.
This beautiful historical bridge is one of the trademarks and symbols of Mostar city. Perhaps it wouldn't be going to far to call it the symbol of Mostar city. The area around Old Bridge is a wonderful mix of Western and Eastern architectural influences, heightened by the ever present Mediterranean atmosphere and vibes that add something wonderfully relaxing to it. Here can see the architectural legacy left by the Ottoman (mostly 15/16th century) and Austrian Hungarian Empire (19/20th century) as well as by other bigger and smaller cultural and ethical groups. Mediterranean Slavic countries are often a mix of Western and Eastern influences, and this is evident in everything from religious buildings to road and bridges. To experience the Old Bridge, you need to visit it yourself. Words can't fully describe it. The view from the Old Bridge is stunning. I'm always writing about how gorgeous Neretva river is, but combine its beauty with the historical part of the city and you get something truly epic. Scroll down to see for yourself! We took a lot of photographs so that you can see what all the fuss is about.
THE HISTORICAL PART OF MOSTAR CITY
The historical part of Mostar city started its development in the 15th and 16 century under Ottoman rule. Besides the Mediterranean Slavic influences, there was also some architectural development in the 19th and 20th century marked by the Austrian- Hungarian rule. This old part of the town is where you can see natural wonder of Neretva river meeting various cultural and historical landmarks. It is nothing short of magical. Small stone houses, religious and cultural buildings (there is a mosque dating back to the 16 century that offers a wonderful panorama of the city) and small shops all come together to create something enchanting. The historical part of the town isn't a museum. It is a lovely mix of the old and the new. So, if you're in need of some refreshment, don't worry. There are many restaurants and coffee shops where you can sit down for a drink or grab something to eat.
A MULTICULTURAL AND MULTI-RELIGIOUS CITY
For centuries this old part of the town was a unique place where numerous confessions and ethnic groups existed side by side. Churches, synagogues and mosques were placed one next to the other. Well, the churches and mosques are still here, but there aren't many synagogues left. I think there is only one, and I'm not sure is this synagogue even open. This is an issue not specific to Mostar or Bosnia and Herzegovina but to Europe in general. As you probably all know, a lot of Jews emigrated from Europe to Israel following the WWII. The same was the case here. Unfortunately, there aren't many Jews left in Mostar city. During the communist regime and before the fall of Yugoslavia, many Jews confessed themselves as Yugoslavs (as declaring your true ethnicity was unfavorably looked upon in Socialistic Republic of Yugoslavia so it is hard to get exact numbers). Communism didn't exactly took kindly to religion of any sorts, and it certainly did nothing to preserve the Jewish culture and identity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It's a shame that Europe still fails to realize the importance of Jewish people and culture for us all, but that's another subject. I'm mentioning this only because the historical presence of Jewish community in Mostar is rarely talked about or mentioned. Everyone knows about the Christian (Catholic and Orthodox) and Islamic religious groups in Mostar, but few people know anything about the existence of a Jewish community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It's a shame because, the Jews of Bosnia and Herzegovina have a very rich and interesting history. I might write more about it some time in the future.
HOW TO AVOID THE CROWDS? VISIT THE OLD CITY EARLIER OR LATER IN THE DAY
Like the old bridge, the old part of Mostar city is usually packed with tourists. Another reason why I would recommend visiting it earlier and later in the day. In regards to Mostar's historical part of the town, Ottoman and Austrian Hungarian Empires are often mentioned. The majority of inhabitants have always been and still are Slavic (both of Christian and Islamic confession), but there are other notable ethnic minorities such as Jews and Albanians. For centuries Mostar has been known as a multicultural and multi ethnic city and this is evident in the area surrounding the Old Bridge as well. Mostar's rich history is definitely a good reason to visit it, but there is something to be said about its natural beauty as well. The hills and the mountains surround Mostar city make for such a lovely sight. As I already said, I recommend visiting the area surrounding the Old Bridge earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon, especially if you are visiting during the warmer months. If you want some privacy for capturing those perfect Instagram shots, make sure you avoid the rush hour.
If you haven't heard about this city before, I think this post might give you a nice introduction to old part of Mostar city. Maybe you're even staring to see why Mostar is considered one of the top European destinations? With its historical core, beautiful surroundings and wonderful Mediterranean climate, Mostar has a lot to offer. It is certainly a tempting destination. There are so many adorable locations in Mostar city and the historical part of the town is packed with them. Take for example, this adorable little cafe (forgot the name of it) offers such a lovely view of old bridge. We sat here for drinks but as they didn't serve alcohol (my husband wanted a beer) we continued our walk.
I do plan to come back to this cafe, though. This spot offers a gorgeous view of the old bridge (I promise to remember the name next time). I'm not sure why they don't serve alcohol. Maybe because there is a mosque in the vicinity? Generally speaking, most places in Bosnia and Herzegovina do serve alcoholic drinks but not all of them. Typically if a restaurant or a coffee shop is right next to the mosque, they will not serve alcohol. Another question I get often is whether you can order Turkish coffee in cafes and the answer is actually- not very often. It is very rare that a cafe serves Turkish coffee because it's not the easier or the quickest way to prepare coffee. I was surprised to find out that this one does! Most people here actually drink espresso in cafes. Italian style espresso, that is. I think the only place where you can get American style coffee is McDonald. At home people often prepare Turkish coffee, but instant coffee is becoming popular too. However, in a restaurant or a cafe, an espresso coffee would be typical.
As I already mentioned, we finished our walk by grabbing something to ear and crossing one of the new bridges to get to our car that was parked in front of Saint Paul and Peter church. That would be all for today! I hope you have enjoyed this virtual walk. It took me hours to write this post, but hopefully it was worth it. I'm preparing more posts about Mostar city, I might publish another one by the end of the month. You can expect to see and read more about Mostar in future.