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The Sniper Tower in Mostar

On 29, Oct 2013 | One Comment | In Activities, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Culture, Travel | By kanannie

Destroyed building.

An abandoned building, but still very much standing.

I was 14 when the Bosnian War ended in 1995. I remember hearing about it, but it was a world so far removed from my world that I didn’t bother to learn about it. Later, we all heard and read about the genocides, the mass rapes and the ethnic cleansing that went on as the rest of the world turned their heads. It’s one thing to read about it and another to be in the places where these atrocities happened.

Bullet-ridden house.

Bullet-ridden houses are everywhere you look.

Bullet-ridden walls and doors.

A gate and wall riddled with holes.

Destroyed building.

Roofless building.

We occasionally came across abandoned, bullet-ridden houses in Croatia, but seeing the remaining damage in Mostar was shocking. Rows and rows of pock-marked buildings stood next to brand new ones as silent but sobering reminders of the war. One especially notable place left over from the war is the “sniper tower”, a former bank building that was occupied by Serb and Croat forces.

The Sniper Tower.

The “Sniper Tower”, or the old bank building.

As we made our way to the sniper tower in the afternoon (before the junkies go to the building in the evening to get high), we ran into a traveling American couple we met at the bus station on our way to Mostar the day before. THANK GOD. We wouldn’t have to explore the creepy abandoned building by ourselves!

The Sniper Tower.

The lobby of the bank building, strewn with garbage.

The Sniper Tower.

Shards of glass cover the floors.

The Sniper Tower.

Graffiti on the walls.

The four of us slowly climbed up the main stairwell, completely open on both sides. My palms are sweating just thinking about that climb, even though the stairs themselves were really wide and there was no way I would’ve fallen off the side of the building. I like to be dramatic.

The Sniper Tower.

The main stairwell.

The Sniper Tower.

One of the floors, looking like some type of huge bathroom.

The Sniper Tower.

The top floor of the tower, looking out towards the sniper’s nest.

We got to the top (I think it was 8 or 9 stories high) and found the hole in the wall where a sniper sat and picked off Bosnian fighters and residents of Mostar. Rusty bullet casings still littered the ground among the glass, condoms (!!!) and god-knows-what-else.

The Sniper Tower.

Interesting art on the walls.

Rusty bullet casings at the Sniper Tower.

A visitor before us had left a line of rusty bullet casings by the sniper’s nest.

Rusty bullet casings at the Sniper Tower.

Bullet casings litter the ground on the top floor.

Graffiti and messages cover the walls, and while it’s clear that there have been some recent clean-up efforts, ventilation parts, unspooled backup tapes, glass, bank documents and beer bottles are still strewn about everywhere.

The Sniper Tower.

LOVE.

The Sniper Tower.

Overlooking the city from the tower.

The Sniper Tower.

Memory tape.

The Sniper Tower.

Looking down through a hole in the ground to the floor below.

It’s been almost 20 years since the end of the war and the damage is still very much here in plain sight. The locals say the government is so busy being corrupt that they don’t have time to help rebuild these cities. Mostar only has the funds to rebuild house by house, and progress is slow. I wonder how the Bosnian people move on, living amongst these bullet-ridden shells of life before the war. We have yet to speak to a Bosnian about the war, but we’ll have that opportunity once we get to Sarajevo.

The Sniper Tower.

The entrance to the tower.

Don't forget.

A sign by the Star Most (bridge).

For more photos of our stay in Mostar, check out our Flickr album.

Chasing Peacocks And Peahens On Lokrum Island
Don't Forget 1993 Mostar

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