Like much of the Balkans, Mostar felt very safe. The burned out, bullet ridden buildings that still haunt the town can give parts of it the feeling of being in ghetto crime zone, but I don't think you'll be in danger of a mugging anywhere. I felt comfortable walking around during the day or night, especially in the old town.
Sweat was dripping down my neck in the 35 degree heat of a scorching summer day in Split when we told a local we were heading to Mostar. Whew! He said. Be careful of the heat. He wasn't kidding.
Mostar is a cauldron of heat in the summer. The town sits in a natural bowl surrounded by mountains, and the temperature soars on summer afternoons. It was around 40 every day we were there.
Thankfully the mountains also mean it tends to get very cool in the evenings. It's a really good idea to plan your day around the heat, and do your sightseeing in the morning and early evening. The light is best around this time anyway. Take pictures at midday and that scolding sun will white out your pictures.
This 30 meter cross is on Hum hill and overlooks the city of Mostar. It is illuminated at night. Built in 2000 it stands here "to spread the fruit of peace to all sides of the world,” according to Mostar Bishop who spoke at the opening ceremony. The Muslims on the east side of town, remember that this was the hill, where the artillery fire came from, that destroyed their homes and killed their people. One can argue that some of the Arabian sponsored mosques in Bosnia are not exactly architectural gems, but at least they don't put them on top of mountains, where you cannot avoid the sight.
Some Bosnian humor on the subject:
Mujo and Haso, are people from Bosnia & Herzegovina famous for jokes:
They asked Mujo, who is a Bosnian Muslim a question:
“Mujo, what do you think about the huge Cross which the Croatian Catholics erected on top of Hum Hill in Mostar?”
Mujo, thought for a minute then replied:
“Hmmm.. Well I think it is a big PLUS for Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
Ruins in Mostar
Even in the city centre of Mostar you will still notice quite a few ruins from the war in the first half of the 1990's.
Most of them are marked with a warning sign stating in Bosnian something like:
Danger of possible collapses.
Do not approach to the ruin.
A local person told me on the bus to Blagaj that the city of Mostar wants to keep most of the ruins as memorials to the war. Honestly speaking, I couldn't really believe this story, as the ground in the city centre is probably limited and sooner or later will be needed for new buildings.
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Don't spend all your money
Make sure you save some coin for the public toilet . The guy at the bus terminal took his job very serious and wouldn’t think of letting you in free!! I wouldn’t care except it was filthy…I wondered what we were paying for!!
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Keep Out of Abandoned buildings
It was quite safe to roam around Mostar freely but you have to heed the warnings posted on many ruined buildings " Keep Out Dangerous Ruin" They are not to be taken lightly. These buidlings were not safe and could fall and the real threat of unexploded ammunition also exists!! Lets hope these are soon cleaned up, 12 years is a long time!! where is world help , we wondered.
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Beware the Local Loos
I had a bad tummy the day I arrived in Mostar and I was frantically in need of a bathroom.
I went into a smart looking local coffee shop and asked to use the facilities. I couldn't believe it - they were literally a hole in the floor.
See pic attached.
I am told that they are not all like that, but I didn't check any others to verify;-)
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I have written in several of my pages that I collected photos of school warning road signs. This one is of the modern type found in several European countries but has the word s^kola written underneath.
I will soon have enough school warning road signs photos to collect them in an album!
Real and present danger
You cannot help but notice the signs warning you to stay clear of ruined buildings as you walk around Mostar. They may look as though they've been there for years - as indeed they have - but they are to be heeded. It's perfectly safe to walk around Mostar but don't be tempted to climb on that crumbling wall for a great photo angle. The danger is more from unstable masonry than anything else but there is still the possibility of unexploded ordinance lurking, undiscovered and unstable.
Similarly, in the countryside, keep to clearly defined paths and areas where there have obviously been people passing or stopping before you, especialy in remoter areas - unattractive as it is, litter is a sign that that picnic place you're looking for has been used before.
There has never been a tourist blown up by a land mine in BiH but that does not mean to say the danger does not exist.
Don't enter any empty neglected buildings!
Mostar is a very attractive and beautiful place, but as you all know it was a scene of war not so long time ago. Unfortunately there are still many kinds of unexploded ammunition left. But don't worry, you will be OK if you keep on the city area - and never enter an empty, neglected house. Often the dangerous places are marked, but not always as not all mines and ammo have not been found 100%.
Just obey the rules and signs and if you want to explore the nature (hike in out of paved areas), always listen to or ask for local's tips first.
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Beware of the heat.
Pre-conceptions die hard, and if you visit Mostar in the summer dressed as though you are visiting the grim and grey images from your TV screen ten years ago, you will suffer. Mostar lies in a valley between mountains and is an absolute sun trap. It's hot by ten and by mid afternoon can be bordering on unbearable. Dress lightly and conservatively - bearing in mind the Muslim population of the city, wear what would be appropriate sight seeing in the Middle East. The streets around the bridge are steep, uneven and narrow, and it's easy to work up a sweat negotiating them. Take it easy, stroll around, take on plenty of water. The bridge itself seems to be held under a magnifying glass for the sun, so be careful of sunstroke and sunburn.
After war many buildings in Mostar are dangerous because they are ruinous. Is better if you avoid walk near them althought you can think they may be safe because have support. I hope the day when this tip will be anachronic and I need delete it.
beware of the gipsies
I saw a lot of gipsies in the streets, like the ones we have in italy.
Keep off them, they have kids coming to u asking for money and when you will be ready to give them a coin, another 10 gipsies will come around and try to rob u or snatch your bag
Aside from the derelict buildings previously mentioned - all of which are well sign posted and the risk of mines - less so around urban areas, there are really no warnings or dangers in or around Mostar. Most people are friendly & helpful and unlike bigger towns or cities in other parts of Europe it's highly unlikely you'll encounter theft or any aggression. A word of caution though, is that there is still some division between Croat & Muslim communities. Getting involved in heated political debate is probably not the wisest idea & try to learn something about the region before visiting so that you are aware of what happened. Each person has their own story and viewpoint of how & why the war started - it's best to lend a sympathetic ear without making value judgements.
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Not really a warning, nor a danger, but more of a reminder that tensions may still run deep in the divided city of Mostar. Use sensitivity when discussing the war if it comes up. We had got an interesting version from a girl who guided us around a mosque, and we were happy to just listen. If you need a reminder just look at some of the buildings, the occassional SFOR soldier, and in a rather sad reaction to the booming tourism... shops selling ever war artefact you can imagine (such as a woman selling things that looked like her husbands posessions). In general... just be sensitive!
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