Death. We all fear it, we try to deny it will come. But for them, it was part of their daily life just a little bit more than 20 years ago. Discover post-war Mostar.
As soon as we leave the main street, we start noticing holes from bullets in grey, half destroyed walls. The only more-newly looking building around seems to be the place that will be our shelter for the next two days.
Heroes Living Their Daily Life
"You come from Spain? I have one friend there. I saved his life back then, you know." Sanel, our host in Mostar, welcomed us in his small, but home-y guesthouse with renewed facade.
Just one look at his wrinkled face and you can see all those hard-to-listen stories that his smiling eyes try to hide.
We quickly scanned the room. The entrance of his guesthouse displays helmets, newspaper articles, clothes and other kinds of war memorabilia along with objects from his travels. But there was no time to examine deeper.
"What happened? How?" we anxiously wanted to know.
"Him, with other Spanish comrades, were helping us, bringing food and clothes, when they shot at him. But I jumped and drag him down. The bullet missed." he explained the incident.
"He was so thankful, that he invited me for a two weeks all-expenses paid trip to his home country. It was amazing." his chest was rising with pride and eyes started sparkling while remembering his old friend.
Exploring Effects of the War
For the next two days we didn't stop discovering the impact the war had on the city. You can still see its heavy effect in the streets. Bullet holes decorate facades of every other building, entrance gate or wall. Other ones are completely destroyed. Don't walk close to them as pieces of the walls still fall down from time to time.
Visiting Museum Of War And Genocide Victims gives chills all over your body. Reading the stories, exploring objects and watching photographs and videos is no walk in the garden even for the toughest person. Countless visitants shed a tear during their visit.
Casualties of the Conflict in Mostar
Moreover, the symbol of the city, the Old Bridge, an example of ethnic coexistence for years (exactly 427), was torn down as a result of the war that divided the city and the country.
For centuries, both Muslims and Catholics alike lived in peace. But on 6th of April 1992 everything changed as bombarding of the city occurred for the first time. Thus began The Siege of Mostar.
Between 1992 and 1995, around 2000 individuals lost their lives here. Along with Old Bridge, many other emblematic buildings became casualties of the conflict.
Today, Mostar has regained its splendor, but aftermath of the hatred of the war can still be seen. We knew we would encounter reminders of the past in some places, but we didn't expect that they would be so easily found. You can feel the recent past from surrounding buildings, from its people.
The most surprising for us were locals. The people whose families died, who were injured or their houses destroyed. Those, who have all the reasons to just hate everything around and not go out of their homes. But despite all that, they welcome you with huge smiles on their faces.
Bosnia offered us a different landscape from the rest of the Balkan countries. Perhaps for that reason, Mostar became one of our favorite cities of the trip. Its richness in history, the mix of oriental and soviet architecture and its tranquility caught us from the first moment.
It is essential to know the history and not forget the past. As stones say on both sides of the Old Bridge: "don't forget '93"