Balkan Reflections

This blog has been set up to assist in communicating with friends and family while we are in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Location: Ontario, Canada

Striving to a better day.

Monday, October 24, 2005

In the afternoon of our full day in Međugorje, we decided to take a trip to Mostar.

Mostar is still in BiH (although NOT in the Republic of Serbia…and please don’t ask me to explain that right now! I’m not sure I could) and was the site of a lot of fighting during the Balkan War. This fighting is still very evident in buildings which had not yet been either torn down or repaired.

It would be hard to judge which buildings were to be rebuilt. I saw rebuilt sections of buildings which I would have thought had been too badly damaged. At any rate, as in other parts of the war zone and up to B-L, there was a lot of building going on.

One could easily see that Mostar had been and would likely be again a beautiful city. Here, it appeared, the population was largely either Muslim or Roman Catholic. We saw much evidence of both faiths.

We walked from the carpark to what had to be the jewel of the trip. This was the ‘Stari Most’ or old bridge, from which Mostar derives its name.

This bridge was partially destroyed when the Serbians were retreating from Mostar during the Balkan War. The center span, which had sustained heavy damage, has been rebuilt. I am not sure of the age of the bridge, but 500 years would seem in the ballpark.

In the approach to the bridge, we were walking on cobblestone which was worn down to a sheen by centuries of feet. The streets became very narrow. The buildings, equal in age I’m guessing to the cobblestones, were shuttered by iron or wood shutters. It looked like a medieval castle.

The bridge, and the stones and buildings on either end, is of the local stone which is a beige colour. It gets very smooth with wear, and as it was also a bit wet from rain, we had to be careful. The bridge curves up and over the river (the name of which is not coming to me…I’ll look it up). Along its curved surface are raised ridges of stone which make walking a bit treacherous but which have prevented countless falls over the years, I’m sure!

The river itself is a lovely emerald green colour.

At either end of the bridge in the ancient buildings are many shops and cafés. The shops contained a dizzying array of products from bits of old uniforms and antique household items to beautiful glassware, copperware, textiles and jewellery. There were a rather shocking number of souvenirs made from spent bullets and artillery shells. Unfortunately, it was hard to discern which items were actually made in the area and which items were imported. One item which I’m sure was produced locally was the T-shirt sporting the picture of Marshall Tito (head of the former Republic of Yugoslavia) which we saw at one shop.

These streets carried such a wealth of history! From the bombed out ruins we’d seen down town, to the bullet marked old town, it was a sight to behold. History layered on history.

I noticed in the archways of the old town that at one point it had been very colourful. Remnants of a very bright blue paint could be seen in some of the ridges of the stone.

There is still a tension in this area. At one point as we were looking for a place to eat dinner, we heard what initially sounded like a gunshot, and then like a firework. Dh’s shoulders stiffened right up and he asked a shop owner what the sound was. She smiled and replied that we were in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. That lone firework was the signal to the faithful that they could break their fast!

Mostar is definitely a site I’d like to explore further. I have tried to add photos to this post, but our slow dial up won't let us. I will try again later...

God Bless


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the pictures Jaye. You all look really well! The bridge is totally cool!
Glad you able to add them. K and C from CR

6:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Responding to your invitation to read your blog and was brought to it because of your mention of Medjugorje. I was priviledged to visit this area on two occasions and I will always have lasting memories of it. I was surprised that you didn't mention too much of your visit there. Did you by any chance visit the apparition site at St. James Church? or Apparition Mountains? We were fortunate to stay with the family of one of the Visionaries. Our guide came from Mostar and, as you pointed out, was quite tall. We had brought clothes from the U.S. and one of the items was a jacket which was red, white and blue (which coincidentally were the colors of our individual flags). At his request,we called our guide "Sonny" because it was easier than trying to pronounce his name. When he tried the jacket on we all had a good laugh as the sleeves just made it between his wrist and elbow.

Being Catholic, it was amazing to us how religious the town was. I always referred to it as the "real" United Nations. We were priviledged to meet people from all over the world there.

Thank you for allowing me to read your blog. It brought back many fond memories.

God Bless,

9:04 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home