The old Ottoman town has always been the main attraction in Mostar. It is very compact and ideal for walking. Most of the main tourist sights can be seen in a one-day tour. There are almost as many café’s in Mostar as there are pubs in London, so it’s never difficult to find a cool spot to take a break from the hot Herzegovina sun.
The old town has an enticing quality, particularly on the Neretva, which often leads one to sit for hours and just soak up the sights and sounds. Unlike most tourist places in the world, café and restaurant owners will never ask you to leave even if you’ve been sipping a Turkish coffee for hours. The old town has been reconstructed almost in its entirety. In it, there are countless shops of coppersmiths and artists at work as well as several fascinating antique shops.
A walking tour through Mostar
The Tourist Information Centre on the west bank of the old town (on the Rade Bitange Street on number 5) and most tour operators on both sides of the river are able to arrange guided tours around Mostar in most European languages.
The oldest single arch stone bridge in Mostar, the Kriva Cuprija (the Crooked Bridge), built in 1558 by the Ottoman architect Cejvan Kethoda. It is said that this was to be a test before the major construction of the Stari Most began. The Old Bridge was completed in 1566 and was hailed as one of the greatest architectural achievements in the Ottoman controlled Balkans. No matter how many times one does it, crossing the Stari most (Old Bridge) always seems to be an exciting experience. This single-arch stone bridge is an exact replica of the original bridge that stood for over 400 years and that was designed by Hajrudin, a student of the great Ottoman architect Sinan. It spans 28.7 meters of the Neretva river, 21 meters above the summer water level. The Halebija and Tara towers have always housed the guardians of the bridge and during Ottoman times were storehouses for ammunition.
Crossing from the west bank to the east you’ll also be crossing the ancient point where East and West symbolically met. Up the stairs to the right is the oldest mosque in Mostar: the Cejvan Cehaj Mosque built in 1552. Later a medresa (Islamic school) was built on the same compound. The Old Bazaar, Kujundziluk is named after the goldsmiths who traditionally created and sold their wares on this street, it is the best place in town to find authentic paintings and copper or bronze carvings of the Stari Most, pomegranates (the natural symbol of Herzegovina) or the famed stecaks (medieval tombstones).
The Koski Mehmed pasa Mosque, built in 1617 is open to visitors. Visitors may enter the mosque and take photos free of charge. This is the only mosque with the original wall paintings and decorations. For those willing to bear the dizzy spiral to the top, the minaret is also open to the public and is accessible from inside the mosque. The view speaks for itself! Just around the corner from the mosque is the Tepa Market. This has been a busy marketplace since Ottoman times. It now sells mostly fresh produce grown in Herzegovina. When in season, the figs and pomegranates can’t be beaten. Be sure to look for local honey, organically produced in sunny villages all over Herzegovina.
The Biscevica House is a little further up to the left on Biscevica Street. This 17th century Ottoman house rests (some parts on pillars of over 5m long) on the eastern banks of the Neretva. There is a conversation or gathering room or divanhan preserved in authentic Ottoman style. Throughout the house are original household objects and the courtyard is a fine example of the Ottoman style. The entrance fee to the house is 3KM.
The Kajtazova House (Gase Ilica bb) is an authentic Ottoman residential house with separate sections for men and women. High outer walls provided isolation and privacy to the inhabitants of the house. It is built out of stone and wood. It is open to visitors.
The Karadozbegova Mosque is the most important and significant of sacred Islamic architecture in all of Herzegovina. Completed in 1557, its designer was Kodza Mimar Sinan, a great Ottoman architect. The mosque is open to visitors.
National monument the Muslibegovic House is located near the Karadoz – Bey’s Mosque, and is one of the most representative monuments of the Ottoman residential architecture. The House is comprised of separate quarters for women (women’s courtyard – selamluk) and men (men’s courtyard – haremluk). The house was built in the 18th century, and the main residential quarter was reconstructed in 1872 in reference to the most monumental buildings in Istanbul. Unlike earlier architectural styles, this house resembled a four-storey house built around the centre. Double-arched entrance with the central pillar reveals Mediterranean influence. The house preserved authentic structure, items and documents providing an insight into the life of a wealthy bey family from the time. In addition to the museum exhibition, visitors are invited to taste traditional beverages or cookies, or spend a night in this authentic surrounding. Museum is open for visitors 15 April – 15 October from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (break from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.). Entry: 4 KM
Synagogue-Temple in Mostar is located on 15 Brace Cisica Street. It was built in 1889. The Jewish Community granted the synagogue to the city in 1952. Since then the temple has beenused as a theatre.
Old Orthodox Church of the Birth of Virgin Mary is located east of the city centre. The church resembles a typical Herzegovinian architectural style. Metropolis “Vladikin dvor” was built in 1910. It is located on the left bank of the Neretva River.
Hamam (public bath) built during the Ottoman period (16th century) is located on the right bank. This is one of the rare remaining Ottoman public baths in Herzegovina.
Spanski trg (Square) houses the Old Gymnasium School built in 1898. The school resembles pseudo-Moorish style.
The old Catholic Church, built in 1866 with Franciscan Monastery annexed to it in 1890, is nearly impossible to miss. It was destroyed in 1992 but was later renovated. A steeple of over 30m dominates the skyline and the library is quite impressive.
The Bishop’s Residence in Mostar marks the long Catholic traditions of the region and is built in the Viennese architecture that greatly added to the town’s charm. It was built in 1906.
The roundabout by the Rondo on the west side is home to the Croatian Cultural Centre “Herceg Stjepan Kosaca” and is certainly worth a peek inside.
The Partisan Memorial Cemetery commemorates the fallen partisans. It is located off Kralja Petra Kresimira IV Street on Bijeli Brijeg. This part of town is covered with lots of greenery and is also a nice place for a stroll with a great view of the city.
Remain of the Early Christian Basilica in Cim is one of the most significant archaeological sites from this period.
The Monastery in Zitomislici, a few kilometres south of Mostar is certainly worth visiting. It is located in the village of Zitomislici on the left bank of the Neretva River. This 1566 sacral is one of the most significant Herzegovinian Orthodox monasteries. It is open to visits.