Friday, 7 February 2014

Bosnia & Herzegovina: Mostar

War-shelled ancient bridge rebuilt
Thursday 13 June 2013: Walking north from the station into the old town I soon find Mostar's welcoming Pension Isa, my haven for the night.
Friday 14: The city's 16th-century, Stari Most, Medieval bridge, built by Ottoman-Turks to span the steep-sided Neretva river, was destroyed by cynical Croat shelling during Bosnia's fight for independence in 1993. With the aid of international funding the flag-stone bridge was rebuilt and reopened, under heavy security, in 2004 to symbolise the reconciliation of the ethnic groups.
Wandering down the old cobble-stone streets, past low-key vendors and traders, I soon reach the elegant hump-backed arch spanning the swift-flowing Neretva. The traditional practice of young men jumping from the bridge to prove their worth has resumed but the the icy waters below help me resist the temptation. 
After lunch I backtrack to the newer part of town, opposite the station, where several bombed-out and pock-marked buildings remain, awaiting demolition or repair.
Returning to the riverbank to dine I watch the sun going down over the worn-torn city's atmospheric old bridge and reflect on the devastation of war before moving on.
Saturday 15: Catching the 09:28 train back across the border to Ploce I take a bus northward along the Croatian coast to Split.
Slideshow of Mostar.

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