Brief history of Mostar, gleaned from google
In the 15C Mostar was a relatively small settlement with two towers around the bridge,. The name translates to the 'bridge keepers'. The historic town of Mostar developed in the 15th and 16th centuries as an Ottoman frontier town and during the short Austro-Hungarian period in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mostar has been long known for its old Turkish houses and the Old Bridge – Stari most, an extraordinary technological achievement of bridge construction. The historic part of Mostar is a result of interaction between the natural phenomena and human creativity throughout a long historical period. The essence of centuries-long cultural continuity is represented by the universal synthesis of life phenomena: the bridge and its fortresses – with the rich archeological layers from the pre-Ottoman period, religious edifices, residential zones (mahalas), arable lands, houses, bazaar, its public life in the streets and water. Architecture here presented a symbol of tolerance: a shared life of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Mosques, churches, and synagogues existed side-by-side indicating that in this region, the Roman Catholic Croats with their Western European culture, the Eastern Orthodox Serbs with their elements of Byzantine culture, and the Sephardic Jews continued to live together with the Bosniaks-Muslims for more than four centuries. A specific regional architecture was thus created.
In the 1990 conflict, however, most of the historic town and the Old Bridge, a masterpiece designed by the famous architect, mimar Hajruddin (according to the design of his master-teacher, great architect mimar Sinan), were destroyed. The Old Bridge was rebuilt in 2004 and many of the edifices in the Old Town were restored or rebuilt with the contribution of the international scientific committee established by UNESCO.
The Old Bridge Area, with its pre-Ottoman, Eastern Ottoman, Mediterranean and Western European architectural features, is an outstanding example of a multicultural urban settlement. The reconstructed Old Bridge and Old City of Mostar are symbols of reconciliation, international cooperation and the coexistence of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities.
By the end of the day i was overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness, on so many levels. The local Muslim museum shows some of the television footage we saw in the 90's. A grim reminder. Rebuilding the bridge is very symbolic of reconciliation. Dig a little deeper and you discover that education in the city is segregated. Muslims and Catholics going to school under the one roof, but there are two schools run quite separately behind the school gate.
And then there is Ruby.
I met this delightful young woman ten minutes before I had to leave and I was 11 minutes from the bus!! Nevertheless she represented the hope everyone has for the future of Mostar, aside from tourism of course. Ruby and her sister were born in an underground shelter. No medical assistance, no pain killers, no support. Her family left their farm and lived there for five years. She spent the first four years of her life living underground. When the war was over the whole family moved to Zagreb, mostly for the girls education. Ruby has chosen to come back to Mostar, renovate the family home, make the land productive again, finish her Masters in international relations. She wants to actively be a role model for reconciliation. She's a marvellous young woman and I'm so glad I met her, sorry I didn't have more time to talk with her. So there is HOPE.
Ruby keeps body body and soul together by guiding. Her company iHouse Travel, run day and half day tours such as- the death of Yugoslavia, -Top secret, Titos bunker, -MOSTAR shelters as well as cycling, rafting and winery tours. I should go back to Mostar . . .