The best urban exploration in Mostar

For those of you who are interested in urban exploration, then head to Mostar.

 

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina's communist history, its weak economy and recent political turmoil has resulted in countless abandoned structures, a playground for urban explorers.  Mostar is the crown jewel of Bosnia and Herzegovina; and most tourists visit for the fairy tale-like bridge, Stari Most. Which is a good enough reason to visit in itself, but Mostar is an important city to understanding the troubled history that has plagued the former Yugoslavia.  

 

 

As Yugoslavia began to fall apart, nationalism replaced communism as the dominant force in the Balkans. Republics started to claim independence, and the Serbs who lived there were determined to keep the Federation together, to create a greater Serbia.

 

In Bosnia and Herzegovina this resulted in an ethnic war between the Serbs, the Croats and the Bosniaks. Mostar is still scared by the interfaith conflicts. The devastation of Mostar was primarily due to its geography. The city sits in a valley, surrounded by hills which gave the Croat and Serb forces the capability to easily shell the city below which resulted in the destruction of nearly 75% of all buildings.

 

The horrors of the war are still visible throughout the ethnically divided city. And one of the buildings which played a key role during this dark period is the former Ljubljanska Banka Tower, now better known as Sniper Tower.

 

 

The former bank towers over Mostar. It's unique vantage point meant that it was the perfect snipers nest during the conflict. Exploring the building and knowing the part it played in ethnic cleansing in Mostar makes it an eery and haunting experience.

 

Although it isn't exactly closed off to the public, there isn't a fence or a 'no trespassing' sign; it is clear that they are trying to stop people entering. If you don't feel confident getting inside the building, it is still worth the 10 minute walk from the centre, because the outside is just as interesting.

 

 

The outside of Sniper Tower is covered in graffiti. And the longer I looked at it, the more I realised that the majority of it had a political message. Every year since 2012 Mostar holds a Street Art Festival, artists all around the world come to Mostar and leave their mark on the dilapidated buildings.

 

 

Directions: 

To get inside the building, if you are headed from the city centre, walk around the left side of the building, you will see a little dirt track. If you keep going, there is part of the wall which is lower than the rest. We layered a few rocks on top of each other to use as a step and climbed over.

 

 

The building feels as though it is stuck in time. Only the shell of the building remains, with no windows and missing walls.

 

 

There are rooms still littered with papers, books and computers from when it was a bank. There were rusted bullet casings left on the floor and shattered glass everywhere, an awful reminder of what happened here. And just like the outside, it is covered in graffiti.

 

 

Although there was no one else there when we were, we had been warned that the tower was now the home to Mostar’s seedy underbelly. Sure enough, as we explored there was evidence of this, smashed alcohol bottles and used needles weren't hard to spot.

 

 

If you take the stairs all the way to the top floor, you will get a chance to see the best view of Mostar the city has to offer.

 

 

 

 

 Top Tips:

  1. Make sure you are wearing trainers, not only are you going to have to scale an 8-foot high wall, but there is shattered glass everywhere.

  2. If you can avoid it, I wouldn't go by yourself. My advice would always go with at least one other person.

  3. Go during the day, this didn't seem like the type of place you wanted to be while it's dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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