Mostar, Bosnia – I experienced this as a sad, haunting place. For me, Mostar was full of memories from the mid-1990’s of destruction and terror witnessed via the TV in my front room. This was our recent past. A European war – the victims of which looked just like us – they wore trainers, tee-shirts with American slogans and jogging trousers. The population was harassed and menaced; many still remain dispossessed. Genocide and ethnic cleansing were endemic in this entire region. It took ages for anyone in the West to take notice and even longer to take action. This was a war in our own backyard. 15 years on the emotions remain raw and hurting. As a tourist in Mostar I felt like a voyeur; uncomfortable and out-of-place.
Below is the ‘Old Bridge’ – the Stari Most over the Neretva river – blown up in an act of utter aggression by Bosnian Croats in November 1993 – and rebuilt along with the rest of the town with $15m of international funding in 2004. The original bridge had stood on this site for 427 years before the tragic events of the Balkans war (1991 – 1996).
The old bridge area of Mostar is now a UNESCO World Heritage listed site.