Crossing into Bosnia and Herzegovina the next day brought on a drastic change. Mosques started showing up in villages instead of just churches, cars from the 90s were traded for cars from the 70s, houses were far more utilitarian…but there were still plenty of stray dogs. I arrived in Mostar (unofficial capital of Herzegovina) and had plenty of the day left to see a bit of the city. In 1992, the Serbian Orthodox church (in eastern Mostar) was destroyed. Today, they are just now starting to rebuild the church.The ruins of the original church are still at the site. They were able to retrieve the church bells from the rubble, which will be used again in the new church.
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The old bridge in Mostar is the icon that the town is most known for. On November 9, 1993, it was destroyed by artillery fire. Žika was hiding out with friends near the side of the river and watched as it was destroyed. In 1997, reconstruction of the bridge started, and it was finished in 2004. Pieces of the original old bridge were removed and set on the bank as a reminder of what happened. The original old bridge was built by the Ottomans in the 16th century. It was the only passage across the Neretva river in the area, so historically was a very important trade route. The bridge keepers, who both protected it and collected fees for crossing it, were called Mostari, which is where Mostar got it’s name. The bridge is not just an attraction by itself…it’s also well known because of the locals that jump from it. Its a bit of a right of passage to manhood for the local Bosnians to jump from it. They also keep a record of all foreigners who jump from it, and I’m comfortable with the fact that my name will not be entered in that book. It’s a 25 meter drop, there have been numerous injuries from jumping, and even some deaths…no thanks…