What is "čardak"
When walking through the old town a visitor will noticed that the old residential houses are built in a characteristic style. All of them were built of stone or mud-brick and have only one floor. It is often the case that the part of the house on the first floor is built of wood or different material then the ground floor, and it is protruding out of the ground. That part of the house is called "čardak".
That word is not Turkish but of Persian origin, "cardaq" in Persian means number four. Čardak as an architectural element can be found throughout the Balkans.
In Croatia this is the name for a residential wooden house standing on supports, therefore, is raised off the ground. In Serbia, Macedonia and Bulgaria it is wooden structure on stilts, raised from the ground, and used as a storeroom for the corn. In Bosnia, however, it is large room on the first floor (lounge) with a lovely view.
In historical times when there was a Military Frontier on the Croatian border (which was then part of the Habsburg monarchy), čardak were called small military stations (sort of towers) that served to defend the borders against the Turkish invasion from Bosnia.
At the beginning of Kujundžiluk, on the right side, there is this beautiful staircase with intermediate terraces. It irresistibly recalls to Spanish Steps in Rome. With a little imagination and the will of local tourist gurus it could become key meeting place or podium for live music and various performances. There also stands "Mostarska kuca" (Mostar House), for which I have not deciphered the purpose and several galleries that no one visits.
This beautiful passage connects the two level of Mostar and has great potential, but acting as if it is neglected.
Cross above the city
Although the line is not visible, nor marking is firm, Mostar is a divided city. More than on the ground this giveaway is firm in the minds of the local people. A stranger who comes in short visit will only be able to see some evidence of a giveaway that exist, but they are neither uniform nor are easily visible. Foreign visitors usually make a fatal mistake, they talk only with one side and believe that this is true, but the truth is very layered and difficult to understand to anyone who does not know well the city and the people. When peace comes, the each side seeks to minimize own guilt and, at the same time, will magnify the blame of the other side.
I am a Croat but do not believe everything what tells Croats from Mostar, because the truth is always somewhere in the middle.
I spoke with people from both sides and each one has its own vision. What I am sure of is that both sides feel uncomfortable and uneasy, but are afraid to sit down and discuss everything, very openly and very honestly. The sad reality is that on both sides still exist chiefs to whom such undefined state highly favors because of it they live very well.
The cross on the hill, on the right side of the city, marks the territory where majority of Croats live.
chimney like sombrero
In older times the roofs of the houses were swarming with chimneys and each chimney marked the fireplace in the house. Similarly, the more chimneys house had the richer its owner was because the poor and especially rural houses had only one chimney. At first, to the appearance of the chimney were not paid a special importance but from the Middle Ages owners of the houses began to decorate them with care.
In Bosnian architecture in 16-19th centuries dominated the Ottoman influence in which the chimney on the roof obviously had no ornamental significance. Chimney had simple shape with a sort of cap on the top to protect it from the rain. The look of the chimney irresistibly reminiscent to those Fairy Capadoccian.
Sobe instead of Quartos
One of the curious traditions of "MY" Nazaré, in Portugal, are the hundreds of bans announcing : Quartos - Chambres - Rooms - Zimmer, always in this same languages, always in the same order (Spanish, Italian, and other tourists don't count there).
Imagine the tenderness of this sight in Mostar, with the servo-Croat word Sobe replacing our Quartos. And that announce, in such building... My god!
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
stone paved walkways
It is known that in war, besides people, cities are the biggest victims. War commanders, who issued orders to hail the places where people live, with all destructive weapons from the earth, water or air, are nothing but monsters and war criminals. I was witness, in my own country, of destroyed houses, schools, churches and even hospitals and war chiefs have tried to justify that it was all a military targets.....
At its inception "medresa" was a private secondary school, usually located in the home of donors who had a right to dictate the curriculum and courses that will the teach in the school. Over time, as the number of students grew, the private houses became too small, so they started to built medrasas within the mosques. Nowadays medresa is an integral part of the mosque. Medresa is Arabic word meaning "place of teaching".
Medresa offers religious and general education, with the emphasis of the moral education of the students.
Mezarje - Muslimansko groblje
Mezarje is Bosniak name for cemetery, and is usually located near the mosques. Unlike the Christian graveyards it can not absolve the fence, unless specifically cemetery where are buried the Muslim priests and dignitaries.
Mezar is name for the grave, which is marked with "nišani", upright tombstones in white color.
Turbe is mausoleum, usually of richer or well known person of the community....
Restaurants with the view
Maybe these restaurants in the pictures are not the best in Mostar, but their location is just perfect and provide the most attractive view of the Old Bridge and the River Neretva. They are located in the immediate vicinity of the bridge, on the left and right banks of the green river. Thick greenery around terraces creates a special atmosphere and relaxing peace that disrupts only the murmur of the river nearby...
In Mostar you do not need to change money unless you have pounds or dollars as both euro and croatian Kuna are accepted. The good thing is they don't just accept euro or Kuna but they give you the change in the currency you pay: just perfect for a day trip.
- Budget Travel
Local currency - Convertible Mark
Bosnia and Herzegovina has one of the most interesting currencies in Europe. The local currency is the Convertible Mark (Konvertibilna Marka) comprised of 100 Feninga. The Convertible Mark (KM) was introduced in 1998 and at that time fixed at par to the German Mark.
As the German Mark has been replaced by the Euro in 2002, the Convertible Mark is now pegged with the Euro at a fixed rate of 1,96.
All bank notes except the 200 Bosnian Mark note come with two different designs; one for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and one for the Republika Srpska. All banknotes are valid all over the country.
As Mostar is a popular day trip destination from the Croatian coast, many prices are stated in three currencies: Bosnian Convertible Mark, Croatian Kuna and Euro. Especially the Euro is usually exchanged at a very fair rate, close to the fixed rate of 1,96 KM.
- Budget Travel
Diving from the Bridge
An old tradition keeps being regularly respected: some boys, after collecting a small amount of money from the curious visitors, jump from the bridge, diving in the river 30 meters below.
Tradition says that they must hit the water with the chest and not with the head, but I couldn't confirm it: everything is so quick that I'll wait to see it in slow motion in the video. I'll let you know!
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Jumping off the Stari Most
...seems to be a remarkably popular activity. Sitting at a restaurant just along from the bridge of an evening, there must have been at least six jumpers during a period of somewhat less than a couple of hours. Apparently it used to be a tradition for men who had just had their proposal of marriage accepted to jump off, as a kind of demonstration of virility, or something like that. Word is now that some people accost tourists and ask them to pay them to jump off, which is rather less poetic, but ingenious none the elss. And it is a long way down....
Don't Forget '93
A marker on the Muslim side of town is engraved with the words "Don't Forget '93". The Bosnian War started in 1992 and finished in 1995. So why remember 1993?
When the war started the Croats and Muslims were natural allies against the Serbs, who subjected the town to an 18th month siege. Once the Serbs had been defeated, however, the allies turned on each other. Croatian forces started to ethnically cleanse the city, before Bosnian forces launched their own brutal counter-campaign.
The front line of the conflict still exists today, and it's easy to see just how fierce the battle was. Fighting carried on across this street for months, with massacres being committed on both sides. Today everyone mingles together peacefully, Muslim and Croat, but it's less than 20 years ago since they were tearing each other apart.
Choice of Beer
It seems even a simple thing like a bottle of beer is not immune to the divisions of the past. Around the Old Town and eastern side of Mostar the beer of choice is generally down to Sarajevsko or Hercegovacko apart from the generic imported beers. However I was surprised to hear that in general, Sarajevsko Beer is not available in bars across town in the western side!!!
As a natural sceptic I had to try this and asked for a Sarajevsko in a bar in the western side of town and sure enough...no Sarajevsko. Thankfully this request was not accompanied by the expected glare of disapproval but with a cheery recommendation of Becks. This is when the glares did come out...from me....awful stuff that Becks!!!