It was a great honour to travel with the English Pocket Opera, a London based company, to Mostar where they staged Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet as an opera together with the children of two of Mostar’s schools. During the rehearsals for the performances, I had time to explore the beautiful city.
In the first three photos in the gallery you can see that I had a little companion, a white cross on a hill. It was playing hide and seek with me, “now you can see me, now you don’t”. Visible in many places, it was a useful landmark for me.
However, there is another story to this cross. It’s not little but stands hundred feet tall on Hum Hill which dominates the city. The cross was built by the Croats after the Bosnian war in the 90s. It is offensive to the city’s Muslim population and was meant to be, a flame to keep the hatred alive and a claim to Christian authority over the city.
During the war, most of the damage in Mostar was inflicted from Hum Hill by heavy artillery shelling. In 1993 a tank of the Croatian army pulled up somewhere near the location of the cross and fired round after round at the Stari Most, Mostar’s most famous attraction, also known as the Old Bridge. After a whole day of shelling, the bridge collapsed into the river Neretva.
Today, the Stari Most and the historic old city have been reconstructed and are perhaps more beautiful than ever before, but how long will it be until its inhabitants can think of the white cross as a little companion playing hide and seek?