Mostar Introduction Walking Tour, Mostar

Mostar Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Mostar

Settlements by the Neretva River, between Mount Hum and Mount Velez, go back to prehistoric times. Remains of fortified encampments, cemeteries, and Roman foundations have been discovered beneath present-day Mostar. The name Mostar was derived from a document dated 1474. It called the residents "Mostari" which means "bridge-keepers."

Mostar was strategically located between the Adriatic Sea and the rich hinterland of Bosnia. The bridge over the Neretva River was vital. It was wood and unstable. The Ottoman Empire absorbed Mostar in 1468. In 1566 Suleiman the Magnificent ordered the "Old Bridge" to be built in stone.

The Old Bridge is the icon of Mostar. Its graceful sky-reaching arch lasted 427 years. Destroyed in the Bosnian-Croatian War, it was completely restored by 2000. Ottoman rule lasted until 1878. Then the Austro-Hungarian Empire took the reins. Mostar became part of Yugoslavia after 1918. It became part of the newly independent Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992.

Mostar architecture covers foreign themes merged with native styles. One can find plenty of such examples in the Italianate Franciscan Church, the Ottoman residences of the mahallas, and the mosques and madrassas. The Cejvan Cehaj Mosque of 1552 is the oldest mosque in Mostar. The Bazaar Kujundziluk, named for its goldsmiths, still operates by the Old Bridge.

The Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, built in 1617, is open to visitors. The ancient Tepa Market is next door. The city hosts the music festival Melodies of Mostar every year.

The Old City was devastated by the Croat-Bosnian War of 1993-1995. The arch of the Old Bridge, which had connected Muslims and Christians for centuries, was broken. Mosques, churches, and neighborhoods were razed, and atrocities became commonplace.

Strolling through Mostar today, among the ruins and rebuilding, one can spy stones with the message "Don't Forget '93." They are reminders of despair of the past and hope for the future. A trip to Mostar is more than a tourist visit. Among the pleasures and sights of this exotic place are signs of hope and renewal for the whole country.
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Mostar Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Mostar Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Bosnia-Herzegovina » Mostar (See other walking tours in Mostar)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Author: derek
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Mostar Peace Bell Tower
  • Catholic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
  • Crooked Bridge
  • Stari Most (Old Bridge)
  • War Photo Exhibition
  • Old Bazar Kujundziluk
  • Koski-Mehmed Pasha Mosque
  • Biscevic House
  • Karadjoz-Beg Mosque
  • Muslibegovic House
Mostar Peace Bell Tower

1) Mostar Peace Bell Tower

Franciscan Church Bell Tower, symbolically called Peace Bell Tower, was the idea of Franciscan Oko Skoko, a guardian of the Monastery Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Mostar. The present structure is built on the site of the original tower, destroyed in an artillery barrage in 1992. The new construction is taller than the original and is the largest building in the city.

The Peace Bell Tower stands at a height of 352 feet. An elevator will take visitors to a height of 246 feet then the climb is by foot, some 148 steps to the viewing platform. The view is a panoramic 360 degrees, taking a picture of the city and environs. The Bell Tower has seven bells which toll frequently. They can be uncomfortably loud inside.

The Peace Bell Tower is regarded as the first phase of a peace initiative for locals, visitors, and people of all faiths. A Gallery of Peace and an Education Center comprise the rest. The Bell Tower is next to the M6-1 main road on the West Bank. There is plenty of parking near the church. If on foot, walk west over the Old Bridge and go straight.
Catholic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

2) Catholic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

Franciscans arrived in Mostar in the 14th century. In the 15th century, they built a church and monastery. In 1583 invading Ottomans destroyed both church and monastery, executed the monks, and dumped their bodies into the Neretva River. The Catholic Church would not be re-established in Mostar until the mid-19th century.

In 1859, Sultan Abdulmejid I published a decree giving Christians religious freedom. The Franciscans were back. The monks invited Italian architect Matteo Lorenzoni to design a project for the church. Local workers built the walls using oak trunks. Construction was finished in 1875. By 1896 the Church and Monastery had arisen in Mostar.

The religious complex was reconstructed twice. The first time was after the bombing of World War II. The second came after the end of the civil war in 1995. The church was rebuilt with the tallest bell tower in southeastern Europe. The bell tower, called the Peace Bell Tower, is near the Radobolja creek, by the Hum River. Today the church and its Bell Tower are giving locals and tourists a magnificent bird’s-eye view over Mostar.
Crooked Bridge

3) Crooked Bridge (must see)

Not far from the famous Mostar Bridge, known as the Old Bridge, there is another ancient structure named Crooked Bridge. The Crooked Bridge is older than Old Bridge by a few years. It spans Radobolja Creek, a modest tributary of the Neretva River. It is a look-alike smaller brother to the Old Bridge. Perhaps it was a test model for the Old Bridge.

It is a stone-arched bridge built the same way as its big brother. The arch is a near-perfect semicircle, 28 feet wide (across the creek) and about 14 feet high. Cubes of stone are fitted into the frontage and vault. Gaps between the vault, frontal walls, and the footpath are filled with crushed stone. Stone steps ascend from each side.

The bridge footpath and approaches are paved with cobblestones. Cobblestones are the rule with the main roads in the old part of town. In December 2000, extraordinary floods destroyed the bridge. It was restored in 2001. The reconstruction was financed by UNESCO and the Duchy of Luxembourg. Bridge diving is not encouraged here.
Stari Most (Old Bridge)

4) Stari Most (Old Bridge) (must see)

Dervis Mehmed Zilli, a renowned Turkish traveler and writer of the 17th century, described the Old Bridge as "...a rainbow arch soaring up to the skies, extending from one cliff to another." The bridge spans the deep-flowing Neretva River that bisects the ancient town of Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The original Old Bridge replaced a wooden suspension bridge of doubtful stability in 1566 and was commissioned by the Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent. The bridge was designed by the architect Mimar Hayruddin. It was said that Suleiman made Hayruddin an offer he couldn't refuse: "Build it or die."

On the day the scaffolding was removed, Hayruddin had his funeral arrangements ready. As it turned out, the bridge outlived everybody. When the bridge was completed it was the broadest man-made arch in the world. The Old Bridge today is a stone arch 13 feet wide and 98 feet long. It is 78 feet above the river below.

Two fortified towers stand at either end of the bridge. They are called the "bridge keepers." The Helebija Tower guards the west end of the bridge. It had a prison on its lower floors and a barracks on its upper floors. The semi-circular Tara Tower, on the opposite side of the river, houses the Museum of the Old Bridge.

The bridge limestone abutments are linked to wing walls on the river cliffs. After standing for 427 years, the bridge was destroyed by artillery fire in the Croat-Bosnian War in 1993. It was restored, using original materials, in 2004. Today divers plunge from the top of the bridge into the Neretva River for a modest fee.

The Old Bridge has been a tour stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. These jumps do not involve bungee cords. Divers go all the way. Dervis Mehmed Zilli, who had traveled through 16 countries, had never seen the like. Did he ever imagine jumping from this "rainbow" of stone?
War Photo Exhibition

5) War Photo Exhibition (must see)

New Zealand photojournalist Wade Goddard has his exhibit of fifty powerful war photos on display in the Helebija Tower of Old Bridge, just above the Bridge Divers' Club. Goddard was in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the conflict with Croatia. The exhibit provides insights into the bloody happenings of 1993 and the struggle to survive.

There are visual records of the destruction and restoration of the world-famous the Old Bridge of Mostar. Bulevar Street, a frontline no man's land in the war, is transformed into Mostar's Main Street and the address of City Hall.

The exhibition space is small, but the photos and commentaries tell a vivid tale. It is recommended by some visitors that tourists should see the exhibit at least twice. The War Photo Exhibition hours are 9 am to 8:30 pm. There is a small admission charge. The time required to take in the experience is about two hours.
Old Bazar Kujundziluk

6) Old Bazar Kujundziluk (must see)

The Old Bazar Kudjundziluk has been in business since the 16th century. It lies in the oldest part of Mostar, along a winding cobbled street. The Market dates back to the Ottoman era when it was a beating heart of commerce in Mostar. With more than 500 workshops and businesses, the street has maintained its ancient looks.

The Old Market is in a car-free area of Muslim Mostar. Turkish shops prevail. Artisans sell their traditional wares and handicrafts from one-room shops on the sides of the street. Visitors can find copperware items, carpets, clothes, scarves, jewelry, smoking paraphernalia, and hookahs. There are quite a few crowded restaurants along the way.

The Old Market starts on the right bank of the Neretva, close to the Old Bridge, and continues up the cobbled left bank. There is a wide range of souvenirs, including military items, books, photos, helmets, and cartridge casings. There is a lot of touristy stuff among the boxes, leather, and textiles. Prices can be haggled.
Koski-Mehmed Pasha Mosque

7) Koski-Mehmed Pasha Mosque (must see)

The minaret of the Koski-Mehmed Pasha Mosque is not as high as that of its elder sibling, the Karadjoz-Beg Mosque, also of Mostar. Still, from its position on the banks of the Neretva River, it stands out above all other buildings of Mostar.

Mehmed Koskija, founder of the Koski-Mehmed Pasha Mosque, died in 1611. He was the chronicler of the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed-Pasa Sokolovic. After Mehmed Koskija's death, the mosque was finished in 1619 by his brother, Mahmud, who also added a school. The mosque is a prime example of classical Islamic architecture in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Designed in the main architecture office of Istanbul, the basic concept of the mosque called for a one-space floor plan with a dome. It resembles the older Karadjoz-Beg Mosque, which probably served as a model. The lower minaret of the Koski-Mehmed mosque lacks stalactite decorations around the balcony of the minaret.

The mosque has a porch with three domes. Inside, the prayer niche and pulpit are exceptionally crafted. The mosque suffered damage in the civil war of 1993. The restoration period lasted from 1996 to 2001. The Koski-Mehmed Pasha Mosque has a collection of rare manuscripts from the Quran, and carpets gifted by the old Austrian monarchy.
Biscevic House

8) Biscevic House

In the Ottoman era, neighborhoods called "mahallas" developed quickly along the banks of the Neretva River. Single-story and two-story houses were a bit unimpressive, as seen from the street, although they were comparatively rich and captivating inside.

The houses were studiously sited to capture picturesque views. But they were legally obligated not to block the views of neighbors. Entry from the street would lead to the courtyard, a transitional area that protected privacy. Family rooms were separated from reception rooms. The Biscevic House on the Neretva is an example of the most beautiful preserved residential structures from the Turkish period. It was built in 1635.

The entrance to the Bisevic residence is austere. Inside are rooms of built-in cabinetry, carved wood ceilings, and one room of pointed arch windows cantilevered over the swift-running Neretva below. High walls protectively surround the house. In a shady stone-paved patio a fountain burbles quietly.

At the entrance, Turkish slippers are provided for visitors. Along the edges of the rooms are divans, sofas, and oriental carpets and throws. Framed Arabic calligraphy adorns the walls. Photography is allowed. The visitor may try on traditional clothes stored on antique chests. There is a picture opportunity!
Karadjoz-Beg Mosque

9) Karadjoz-Beg Mosque

The Karadjoz-Beg Mosque of Mostar is an Ottoman mosque dating from the 16th century. It has an oversized dome and a high minaret for a mosque of its size. It is reputed to be the largest mosque in the Mostar region. It was built in 1557 on the remains of the Church of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

The Arabic foundation inscription on the cornerstone declares the mosque was commissioned by Mehmed Beg bin Abu al-Sadat, thought to have been the brother of the vizier. The grand vizier at that time was Rustem Pasha. His only brother went by the name Sinan Pasha. Not many things are written in stone.

The Mosque design is believed to be the work of Mimar Sinan, the foremost imperial architect of the time. The basic form is a domed cube with a double portico. The inner portico has three smaller domes supported by four marble columns. The outer portico roof has small octagonal pillars.

The 35-foot main dome covers an eight-sided drum-like structure having windows and pointed arches. The mosque suffered severe damage in World War II and again in the 1993 Bosnian War. It was completely renovated and reopened in July 2004.
Muslibegovic House

10) Muslibegovic House

The Muslibegovic clan is a noble lineage of old Herzegovina. The family established themselves in Mostar after the fall of Herzegovina to the Venetians in 1687. Their historic residence in Mostar, the Muslibegovic House, preserves the family's former glory with furnishings and works of art from the Ottoman period.

The Muslibegovic House today is a national monument, museum, and small hotel located in the Brankovac neighborhood in Mostar. The monument consists of a residence, two courtyards, the surrounding walls, and gateways. In 1872, the house was enlarged with two rooms added to the ground floor and upper floor. The craftsman is known only by the name, Janjic.

The Muslibegovic House today is considered a prime example of Ottoman-era residential architecture. The part of the house used as a hotel has twelve bedrooms. The most valuable exhibits of the museum include the manuscript of the Quran, dated 1855, and an ornately decorated saber of 1866.

Walking Tours in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Create Your Own Walk in Mostar

Create Your Own Walk in Mostar

Creating your own self-guided walk in Mostar is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Bosnian War Tour

Bosnian War Tour

After the fall of Yugoslavia, there followed civil wars of particular savagery. In Bosnia, there were two distinct struggles. The first involved Serbs against Croats and Bosnians. The alliance of Croats and Bosnians proved effective, and the Serbs were repulsed. The Croats were mainly Christian, and the Bosnians were Muslim. There was antipathy between them.

The second part of the war was the...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles