For a long time I longed to go to Mostar. I learned a lot during my study at the University of Amsterdam in between 2001 and 2004 about the history of the former Yugoslav countries and the wars in the '90s, but it was only in 2004, just after the opening of the most famous image of the former Yugoslavia, the Stari Most, the old bridge of Mostar, and just after my graduation, that I had the opportunity to visit Mostar. I went again in 2006 and 2015 but, unfortunately, I had to cancel my scheduled visit to Mostar for March 2020, like the one to Sarajevo, due to the outbreak of the pandemic. I really wanted to make some more and better then & now duo's, but I believe the photos below are still worth sharing, because Mostar and its bridge are impressive, as always. 

A first glimpse of the reconstructed Stari Most just after the its reopening in the summer of 2004. We did not use a digital camera yet and even used black and white analog film rolls next to coloured rolls.

On the 31st of july 2006, we visited Mostar for a second time. This time I rephotographed Kurt Hielscher's photo on the bridge.

On the bridge,1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Mostar, 31st of July 2006. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

Strolling the cobblestone streets of the old city in Mostar in 2004.

Mostar, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Mostar, 31st of July 2006. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

Summer of 2004

In 2004, I was invited to go to the top of the minaret. You can see me waving. On my way down, that didn't seem to come to an end, I discovered what claustrophia must be like. So in 2006 I didn't went up again.

At the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, Mostar, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

At the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, Mostar, summer of 2006. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

In and outside the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, Mostar, 2004.

Stari Most as seen from Lučki most, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Stari Most as seen from Lučki most, 26th of July 2015. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

Župna crkva svetog Petra i Pavla, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 26st of July 2015 

Summer of 2004


Kim posing in front of the renewed Stari Most in 2004.

In 2004 we asked at this hotel if it was okay to spend the night on their parking lot. And it was!

Blagaj and the source of the Buna river

Here the photo of the source of the Buna river with the famous Tekija, the Dervish House in Blagaj, next to it. I have been here several times, well at least twice, but not with the intention to capture the photo from Kurt Hielscher again. This is a lucky shot. 

Source of the Buna river in Blagaj near Mostar, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Blagaj, 26th of July 2015. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

Kurt Hielscher took his photo probably from a bigger distance than I did. I remember us eating the delicious trouts here in 2006 and again in 2015. Last time we were with the kids and visited the Tekija at the end of the day. After we had our trouts, it was already getting dark and the Dervish house was already closed for visitors I think, because we could not pay an entrance fee. But it was open and we could just walk in, which we did, but ofcourse with respect for the religious importance of the place. Kim had to cover her hair with a scarf. And the kids did that too. I know this is a popular place to visit, but both times we were in the Tekija we were lukcy to experience it on our own, and though I am not a religious man, I was touched by the place in a way that goes beyond its beauty. I can't explain. Afterwards we walked to a nearby campsite where we stayed with the campervan for the night. In the morning we went for an icecold swim, or better said some dipping, in the Buna, which made us feel very alive and ready for the upcoming heath that day.  

Inside the Tekija or Tekke, the Dervish House in Blagaj in July 2006. The Tekke dates back to 1520, but it was rebuilt from time to time on several occasions. It was a fmous place during the Ottoman period and open until the last sheikh Sejdo Sehovic died in 1925. After the Second World War, under Communist rule, religious activities were officially banned here. Till the '70s the complex was managed by the Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but after a period for several years without any care, the Islamic Community started using the house and prevented it form further decay.

Blagaj summer of 2015.

Probably going for pastrmka, delicious fresh trout, again. And this time with photos from the Tekija after sunset and with the boys.

River Camp Bara is situated on walking distance from the Tekija with a very cold undeep and fast streaming Buna. But it was a great  refreshment after in the morning. Here breakfast with the red campervan we could borrow from my parents at the time.

At the Neretva river somewhere in between Jablanica and Mostar with our Peugeot J9 van that would bring us all the way to Istanbul in a three month jourey crisscrossing the Balkans. This photo is form the summer of 2006.

Below: strolling around on the bridge in 2004.

In the footsteps of  Kurt Hielscher