Photo by Enrico Pighetti  –  Link

Mostar

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The medieval city of Mostar has bridged the lush valley of the Neretva river for hundreds of years. The city's name comes from the original bridge keepers who maintained the crossing for the different empires ruling over the region. Stari Most (the Old Bridge) is not the only noteworthy sight from Mostar's historic Turkish past. The Ottoman empire has left behind an entire Old Town with small shops, cafes, nooks and crannies that will take days to explore.

The city was one of the worst hit during the wars that engulfed Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The majority of the city was destroyed by bombing and artillery fire including the bridge and surrounding streets. A monumental international effort in the wake of that conflict has resurrected the city's pride. The bridge has been meticulously restored and you can witness the progress of the rebuild in the museum on the eastern bank. You will notice that some buildings have been left complettely untouched to remind everybody who sees them every day of the atrocities of war. Many of the ground floors of buildings in the city carry scars of bullet holes and shelling to this day.

One of the best things to do in Mostar is engage with the rich mix of Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and modern Bosnian cultures. As a de-facto capital of the Herzegovina region, Mostar's streets are bustling with arts and craft stores and some truly authentic restaurants.

If you have 5 minutes spare and like your coffee, there are few things better than sitting down on one of the cushioned seats in an Old Town alleyway and ordering traditional Bosnian coffee. The incredibly rich taste is created by a unique technique of adding powdered beans to near-boiling hot water creating a frothy beverage that is so thick we don't know if you drink it or eat it. Just don't call it Turkish - the locals will disapprove.

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