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Published: March 1st 2018
The terrain between the border and Trebinje was unusual there was little sign of habitation and the landscape was rocky and desert like which was certainly unexpected for this part of the world, but soon began to change as we came closer. On the outskirts of town we stopped at a service station for a coffee and to orientate ourselves a little before turning back down the highway and heading back towards the town centre where we took a right rather than the left we should have and ended up back near the service station although the drive through the outskirts of town were scenic. We then headed back to the town centre and headed left which took us to the older part of town where we hoped to find the Arslanagic bridge which fords the Trebišnjica
river. The bridge was worth the visit even though it was raining and not great weather for photography I was still able to take a few decent photos of the 16th century toll bridge and the older buildings along the river with the added bonus of capturing you the Hercegovačka Gračanica
monastery located above the city, on the historic Crkvina Hill.
We stopped at a
great little bakery before continuing our journey towards the city of Mostar stopping briefly at the the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos
which was established during the 15th century, with a cathedral constructed around 1508 and later rebuilt in 1924 after being destroyed.by the Venetians. The countryside was hilly and green and just really attractive with the hillsides littered with old stone homesteads. Shortly after the town of Poplat we crossed from the Republika Srpska into Bosnia Herzegovina proper soon entering the very pretty castle town of Stolac, it was so pretty that we ended up turning around and going back for another look. The old town was attractive with its old buildings and Turkovica Kula fortress dominating the high ground and a lovely river running through the middle there were also a few bullet scarred buildings demonstrating some rather unpleasant modern history. The road continued north west towards the city of Mostar and its fabled bridge which is a world heritage site and the main reason for visiting Bosnia, and I certainly was not disappointed the area around the bridge id positively medieval.
Mostar was named after the bridge keepers (mostari)
Hercegovačka Gračanica monastery on the hill top
who in the medieval times guarded the Stari Most
(Old Bridge) over the Neretva. The Old Bridge
, built by the Ottomans
in the 16th century, is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina's most recognizable landmarks, and is considered one of the most exemplary pieces of Islamic architecture in the Balkans
. This single-arch stone bridge is an exact replica of the original bridge that stood for over 400 years before being damaged during the Bosnian War and collapsing in 1999. The Old Bridge (Stari Most) and the areas around it were restored in the early 2000's an the whole area looks great today except for the ragged beggars hanging round either end of the bridge itself.
We parked on the bank opposite the mosque and walked through the restored area with its pubs, and restaurants to the first tower just before the entrance to the bridge, the stone on the span itself was quite slippery and there were a lot of tourists there that day who seemed to get in the way but the whole setting was quite romantic. I walked across the bridge taking photographs here and there while the other guys returned to the car to get something I set up
in a good spot planning to take their photos but when they did not return I headed back to the bridge, meeting up with them about half way across. We then wandered around the area on the Tara Tower side of the river for a time checking out some of the souvenir shops before returning to the car.
The day remained drizzly as we continued north to Sarajevo the countries capital, severely damaged during the siege which lasted four years from 1992 and caused great deprivation to the cities residents and great damage to the city itself. We stayed in a modern hotel right on the edge of the old town close to the restored city hall building. After check in we set out in the drivel to visit the restored old town, a compact area of historical buildings and restaurants that leads on to a mall. The eastern part of the old town area has a definite Turkish flavour with its Baščaršija
or market sector and mosques where as the west has an Austrian-Hungarian flavour with its Katedrala Srca Isusova. In the middle of the town a line is painted on the ground signifying the meeting point of
eastern and western europe.
After walking for a few kilometres west we decided to cross the river and look for a traditional restaurant on the other side, we didn't find one but we did see a part of the city with a significant number of damaged buildings and a few seedy looking characters, it seems that unemployment and petty crime are rampant here. We then crossed back over the river and headed back into the old town to find a traditional restaurant, the food was outstanding.
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