Mostar - divided city

Mostar is still divided - mostly Croats (on the western side of the river Neretva), mostly Muslims (on the eastern side), with very few Serbs living here and there. 

This gorgeous bridge was originally built between 1557 and 1567 by an Ottoman bridge builder, Mimar Hayruddin, student of the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent.  At the time it was built, it was the widest man-made arch in the world; it was an engineering "mystery" for years - how was the scaffolding erected?  how were the stones transported from one bank to the next? and bottom line - how the heck was it held together?!  There were no metal braces or suspension of any kind.

The old bridge, "Stari Most", served the peoples of Mostar for 427 years until it was completely destroyed by Croatian forces on November 9, 1993.  Croatian military leaders said they destroyed it for "strategic military reasons."  That of course is bullsh**.   There was no primary military use for the bridge, especially given the other more modern bridges at different points of the city.  It was pure cultural property destruction. 

The bridge was rebuilt from 2001-04.  The Old Bridge area and the Old City of Mostar were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. 

 here is one of the rare signs of "co-existence" - the way Croatian, "Muslim", and Serbian beer share the same refrigerator.  Of course, even here there is politics.  The Croatian beer Karlovacko gets the prominent position, followed by Sarajevsko (the "Muslim beer"), and with Jelen (the Serbian beer) sharing the bottom shelf with some "internationals" ... but it's a start!  Ziveli! (Cheers!)

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