Photoblog: ‘Ruin Porn’ in Mostar

***Featured on Bosnian website Bljesak’s lifestyle section, 2/12/14***

If you know just one thing about Mostar, it’s likely to be the picture of that iconic bridge, destroyed in the ferocious Bosnian War of 1992-5. 20 years later and the bridge has been rebuilt, the city is gorgeous, and the whole country of Bosnia-Herzegovina is seeing a spike in tourism as word gets out about its natural beauty and stunning cities. Yet no matter how pretty the old town is, or how blue the Neretva River is as it snakes through the city, there are reminders of the city’s troubled past all around. I took pictures of just a few of the ruined buildings dotted around, many of them still standing due to unresolved tussles over land ownership.

NB: I feel uncomfortable about the phrase ‘ruin porn’ – it’s weird and distasteful to fetishise buildings with such a dark past. But it’s the phrase that’s stuck to describe buildings such as these, so I’ll reluctantly use it.

Inside the sniper tower.

Sniper tower

One of several destroyed buildings in the centre of the city, opposite the Stara Gimnazija (Old Gymnasium), a beautiful school building built in Moorish Revival style.

Irony: the same building being next to a mural proudly announcing the bridge was rebuilt a decade ago.

A ruined building along the pedestrianised Nikole Šubića Zrinskog street, further down than the gymnasium and opposite Zrinjevac Park. There’s nothing to stop a curious viewer climbing in and having a look (although I chose not to in case I got in trouble with the locals)

Ominous: a destroyed house on the right of the local A&E ward.

Skeleton of a building down Bulevar, a main road, abandoned for so long that trees are growing out of it.

Also down Bulevar.

Boulevard of Broken Houses: yet another abandoned wreck down Bulevar.

View of a large ruin visible from the minaret of the Karagöz Bey mosque, the largest in Mostar.

Ruin by Musala bridge – some nice paintwork still visible, if faded. Not sure if the structure underneath is new or old, or what it’s meant to be. Interesting to look at nonetheless.

Ruined houses are just a part of normal life, with the area around this one in the back streets near the Old Town being used as a car park.

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