Our Balkan Tour continued with two epic days wandering old towns in Bosnian and Montenegrin locations: Mostar, Medjugorje, Kotor, and Budva. I didn’t have the slightest expectation on what to see in these places and didn’t bother checking them out on the web. In my mind, travel experiences are always the most compelling when least anticipated. 🙂 After going through Slovenia and Croatia, could this trip possibly keep getting better? Sure. There was just enough time to see several of the main sites. I’m glad we didn’t waste any of it since our itinerary was well tailored and taken care of, thanks to Mulan Travel Service Corp. In this post, discover the four best tourist spots in our travel.
4 Best Places We Visited in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina
1. The Old Town of Mostar
Mostar is the capital of Herzegovina region. With a rich and long history dating back to the 15th century, it is a perfect example of solidarity and tolerance among people. From all the things our guide mentioned about Mostar, I mostly remember the story about Stari Most (a UNESCO site).
Stari Most is a 16th century, Ottoman-style bridge and Mostar’s most notable architectural landmark. It connects the two sides of the Neretva river. Rocks on the bridge are quite slippery, and lots of people (myself included) were slithering even though the weather was dry. After much struggle, on our way back, I found an easier way to cross! Tip: Instead of walking on the velvety soft and ivory-colored shimmering surface, step on the stoppers in between. 🙂
The bridge was destroyed during the Bosnian War in 1993 and was later rebuilt in 2004. It took long before its completion because getting materials based on the original wasn’t easy. These days, fearless locals collect money from tourists to jump from the bridge to the river for entertainment. The practice of diving off the bridge started in 1664 and became a tradition for the young men of Mostar. In 1968, the city held a formal diving competition, and it still continues today.
Surrounding the bridge are cobbled streets lined with bazaars and restaurants, souvenir shops, turkish houses, public buildings, catholic and orthodox churches, synagogues, and mosques. It’s amazing how people of various nationalities, culture, tradition and religion co-exist in this multicultural city. Islamic, judaic, orthodox and catholic buildings on a relatively small area create a good architectural mixture.
Located 25 kilometers south-west of Mostar, Medjugorje is a small town picturesquely situated between the mountains. The town is famous for the apparition of the Virgin Mary to 6 children which took a place in 1981. Since this time, Medjugorje has become the destination of the Catholic pilgrims from all over the world. It is not officially approved by Catholic Church, but thousands of people come here to pray every year.
In Medjugorje, we saw the White Cross Hill where parishes raised the cross in 1934 in memory of the 1900th anniversary of the Passion of Jesus and The Apparition Hill with the statue of the Queen of Peace. It’s exactly where the children first saw Virgin Mary and received her message for the world: “I have come to tell the world that God exists. He is the fullness of life, and to enjoy this fullness and peace, you must return to God.” There was a church nearby and we took some time to relax and pray.
3. The Old Town of Kotor
Kotor is the star of the Montenegro coast. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once home to one of the Mediterranean’s busiest harbors. The main square, Piazza of the Arms, has a beautiful old stone clock tower which has a Pisa-esque angle because of the numerous earthquakes that have shaken Kotor over the years.
Stepping into the old historic center of Kotor can make you think you’ve absentmindedly passed through Italian border control. Many buildings here have typical Venetian arches and balconies. The Venetians may have imported their flair and creativity from the far side of the Adriatic, but the substance is local. The architecture thus looks more like a hybrid of Montenegrin stoicism and Italian panache.
There’s also a number of monuments of the medieval architecture whose beauty is complemented with the multitude of narrow streets, squares, and markets. Churches, cathedrals, palaces, and museums kept your eyes busy for a while.
4. The Old Town of Budva
An ancient town with a sexy modern twist, Budva is known as the oldest settlement in the Adriatic. Nowadays, it offers beaches and hotels that make it the most desirable tourist destination in Montenegro. Apart from its natural beauty, Budva is rich in historic monuments.
The Old Town of Budva looked almost as pretty as the one in nearby Kotor, filled to the brim with bars, restaurants and limestone houses. We started our day tour entering the arched doorway in its medieval walls then walked through Budva’s Citadel, the highest structure in the area. This Citadel serves as a stunning lookout point just as it was meant to do over thousands of years ago. It was built as a protective entity for the city, and from the top, the surrounding sea could be scanned from any possible attacks.
On the other side, there’s a path leading to the pebble beaches of Mogren I and II. We saw the bronze sculpture of a ballet dancer, a symbol of Budva, performing a graceful arabesque as she gazes out to sea…
…and we tried to approximate its pose. 😛 #justforfun
All photos were taken using Fujifilm XT2 + 14mm lens.