Pop “Mostar” into a Google search and we can almost guarantee the first thing that pops up is the famous Stari Most (Old Bridge). As beautiful as the stone arch is, our most enduring memory of the city is scaling Mostar Sniper Tower. If you are wondering how to visit Mostar Sniper Tower yourself, read on!
The Sieges of Mostar
The Bosnian War was an incredibly complicated conflict. Three distinct groups of citizens lived together peacefully in Yugoslavia, the Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Christmas Serbs and Catholic Croats. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the instabilities in Yugoslavia worsened and it began to separate into independent states. This erupted into violence in 1992 and led to the beginning of the conflict.
The First Siege
The first phase of war in 1992 saw the Croats and Bosnians fight for independence against the majority Serb Yugoslav People’s Army. Slovenia and Croatia had already secured their independence as Yugoslavia began to splinter. Croat and Bosniaks saw the Yugoslav People’s Army forces in Mostar as an occupying forced and fought against them. the city was blockaded and shelled for around three months. Many churches and 12 out of 14 mosques were destroyed. They also took out all the bridges between the two river banks apart from the Stari Most. Eventually, battle lines shifted and many Bosniaks who had fled returned to the city, along with refugees from the new battle-torn areas.
The Second Siege
Sadly, politics shifted and infighting began between the Croats and Bosniaks. This escalated into yet more warfare in 1993. The city of Mostar, already separated into these two ethnic groups by the river, became a flashpoint. The city was besieged once again and this time the fighting went on for almost a year. The famous Stari Most bridge was shelled into oblivion and it came as a shock to the city’s residents. People wept. The conflict in Mostar only ended with the signing of a freedom of movement agreement on 23 May 1994 in Washington DC. With all the bridges missing, they still couldn’t cross the river though.
Ljubljanska Banka Tower
Officially called Ljubljanska Banka Tower, this concrete block was used as a bank during the Soviet era when Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of Yugoslavia. When thew ar broke out in Mostar, it became the sniper nest for the western bank. Snipers got a clear view across the river valley into the eastern half, taking potshots at will. During the conflict, around 2000 people died in Mostar and some were shot from this very tower.
How to Visit Mostar Sniper Tower
Bear in mind that entrance to the Sniper Tower is “not encouraged” by authorities but it is an open secret that it is possible and done daily, It appears that the city has cleaned up inside but they left the artwork on the walls which seems like a little hat tip to urban explorers to us.
Finding the Mostar Sniper Tower
The tower is just a 15-minute walk from Stari Most. If you have Google, pop in “Ljubljanska Banka Tower” and follow the directions.
If not, follow these directions:
- From the bridge, walk west and take the first right onto Rade Bintange.
- Follow this for around 8 minutes until it joins the main road Buleva.
- From here you should see the block to the north.
- Head up the main road and take a left up Kralja Zvonimira.
The entrance is over a wall at the back of the building but it is worth having a look around the base of the building first. This is where you will find the biggest art pieces.
Over the Wall
Find this driveway in a residential block and pass through it, bearing to the left. Beyond a few parked cars, you will find the wall to jump over.
There is a makeshift pile of rocks and bricks. If you are short like us, be prepared to use your arms to hoist yourself up. Coming back the other way is easier as the pile is bigger and there is a brick halfway up the wall for an extra boost.
The ground floor is the messiest, with plenty of debris lying around (mostly modern rubbish from lazy visitors). Don’t go kicking around in this trash as there is also sharp glass here. There is a well-defined path though all of this to the stairs which will take you to the higher floors.
Climbing the Mostar Sniper Tower
We hope you have your steady legs on as this staircase leads all the ay to the 8th floor but it has no handrails…or walls. It is easy to get distracted by the walls but to avoid tripping, just stop to look and then focus back on wegere you are stepping.
Another spot you’ll want to watch your step is the lift shafts. The lifts are long gone, but the sheer srops are still very much there and unprotected.
Check out all our travels in Bosnia and Herzegovina
As you head up, each floor offers an opportunity to explore and check out some of the cool artwork. There is plenty of aimless tagging going on, but next to these are some fantastic large scale pieces.
You may notice that much of it has an anti-war message (not that much on here but in the building itself). It is this detail that brings you back to the stark realisation that this was the scene of otrcities. Before it was sprayed with paint it was sprayed with bullets. Lone men, armed with long range guns picked off civilians rushing through the streets of eastern Mostar. It is chilling.
If you need to lighten up after that moment of reflection, just head up to the top floors and take in the stunning view. You can see out across the whole city. This is especially fun if you have visited other areas of the city first. As the city is tucked into a river valley, it is all edged neatly in green swatches that stretch to the sky. On a sunny day, it is magnificent. On a dull one? Well, its atmospheric I guess.
You are not allowed to enter this building. During our visit we saw one other couple which made us feel both pleasingly rebellious and happy to know we weren’t alone. Our hostel recommended the Sniper tower and how to get in which leads us to believe they do so for everybody. We let them know we were planning to visit so at least they knew where we were.
7 Top Tips for Visiting Mostar Sniper Tower
1. Do Not Drink Alcohol
There are days on holiday when a little cocktail with lunch is a great idea but this is not one of them. Steep drops with no handrails do not mix with booze so wait until you are safely back at ground level to hit happy hour.
2. Do Bring Water
Please do bring some water though. Again, nobody wants to feel dizzy up on the 8th floor and there is nowhere to get water up the tower.
3. Use the Bathroom Before you Arrive
No running water means no flushing toilets. Don’t be the person who leaves a little puddle in the corner, it’s just not nice.
4. Wear Sensible Shoes
There is rubbish and broken glass around on the ground floor and we wouldn’t want you to get hurt. Plus, jumping a wall and climbing open stairs is much better if you aren’t worried about twisting your ankle so opt for flat, covered shoes.
6. Don’t Visit in the Dark
This includes sunset. As nice as the view would be, it would be very foolhardy to deal with the stairs etc in the dark so just make sure it is nice and bright for your time up the tower.
7. Don’t Forget your Camera
The views are gorgeous and the street art is cool. Need we say more?
Final Thoughts on Climbing the Mostar Sniper Tower
Mostar Sniper Tower is the perfect blend of stunning views, interesting gallery and thrilling exploration. It is a relatively popular “alternative” tourist attraction and it is easy to see why. With a little common sense and a LOT of being careful, visitors experience a sense of getting under Mostar’s skin…a feeling you are unlikely to get down at Stari Most.