This traditional sight for tourists in Herzegovina seems to come up regularly in Google Searches. You can read my impressions of Bosnia and Herzegovina while I was working there in 2007 here.
We had an interesting day out. Two successful meetings and we arrived safely despite our driver's risky overtaking on bendy roads. We shan't risk him again.
Although Mostar doesn't look far on the map, it took two and a half hours, through fantastic green scenery. Even the water of the Neretva river was (a healthy looking) green. I realised why the hills were even greener than England: they had trees, deciduous trees in all their new-leaved glory, instead of the ranks of marching pines that have been used to reforest hills in the UK. There were huge cliffs and mountains in the distance still with a bit of snow. Houses sat on the hills with fantastic views, of which we were very envious.
Mostar was a bigger city than I anticipated. It is famous for its old bridge.
The elegant bridge spanned the River Neretva and was designed by the Ottoman (Turkish) architect Mimar Hayruddin. It was completed in 1566 after nines years of building and the surrounding town became a thriving trading centre. The bridge was 29 metres in length and stood at a height of 20 metres, a classic example of a single span, stone arch bridge and was an example of advanced technology in its time. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site during the twentieth century.. more
That website also explained how "divers" jumped off the bridge in an annual competition. This is how they did it :)
However, in the recent war, the Croats destroyed the bridge. It was reopened in 2004 by our very own Prince Charles. The rebuilding seemed to involve EU money and it was claimed that a lot of the original stones were recovered from the river and reused.
However the result does not look quite so good. The railings at the top of the bridge looked more like reinforcing bars than 16th century.
Nevertheless, boys are still jumping off the bridge for the tourists. Now they try to collect money. The going rate was apparently 25 Euros per jump. Business was slack and we only saw one jump. But there were several contenders.
As you can see from the very first picture, the bridge is actually part of an ensemble of towers and other buildings. There are also several restaurants on the side of the river giving excellent views of the bridge which is floodlit at night. Unfortunately the restaurant we chose catered the usual low quality food for tourists so it was not something we would choose to remember about Mostar.