Remembering Through Street Art and Architecture

During the Bosnian War, the city of Mostar underwent more than one siege. The first siege lasted a few months in 1992, and the second siege lasted for nearly a year (1993-1994). Today, bombed, bullet-pierced, graffiti-filled buildings still stand all throughout town. They demand that citizens and tourists alike remember the country’s past. This post’s goal is to provide a glimpse of what Mostar’s people experienced between 1992-1994 and to commemorate their experiences.

I wanted to create this feature post/photo-essay to share the significance of what we saw during our time in Mostar and the impact the city had on me. As a Canadian-trained history teacher, I am committed to offering some explanation about what led to the city’s war-torn architecture and giving some information about a war that is not studied in depth in many Canadian schools.

In very general terms, the sieges of Mostar were the result of a war where the relations between different political and military groups and civilians kept changing. These relations were also influenced by the ulterior, sometimes contradicting, motives of the various people in power within each group.

A newspaper article published on March 9th, 1994 in the New York Times offers some insight into the conflict:

Mostar’s Muslims and Croats were allies defending their city against Serbian attackers for three months in the spring of 1992. After they managed to fend off the Serbs, the city enjoyed a year of relative peace. But when Muslim forces in other parts of Bosnia began retaking Croatian strongholds from which they had been expelled earlier in the war, Mostar’s Croats began a local “ethnic cleansing” campaign of their own.

They drove thousands of Muslims from the mostly Croatian side of the Neretva to the Muslim side of the east bank. Then they began their campaign of bombardment. Human rights workers in eastern Mostar counted more than 1,000,000 mortar and artillery impacts in the nine months that followed. Its residents huddl[ed] in dark basements while their community was destroyed and more than 2,000 of their neighbours were killed or wounded.

The two paragraphs above only skim the surface of the conflict’s complexity, and I must leave the task of gaining a thorough understanding of the Bosnian War to a qualified historian.

Below, you will find photos juxtaposed with quotes which strive to portray the fear, terror, cruelty, bravery and hope experienced and shown by those living in Mostar between 1992-1994.


Jerry Hulme, the head of the UN High Commission for Refugees in the Bosnian region, visited Mostar in 1994. The Wall Street Journal (March 9, 1994) reported:

The city he enters hasn’t a single unscathed building. Every one of the 20 mosques, some of them six centuries old, has either had its dome gouged by shelling or its minaret toppled. Apartment blocks gape with blackened mortar holes; graceful Austro-Hungarian facades have been peeled away, exposing rooms and pillars within as though they were dollhouses. 


The Windsor Star, May 12th, 1993:

Explosions of artillery shells and heavy machine-gun and sniper fire echoed through Mostar…despite the ceasefire.


mostar graffiti

The Windsor Star, May 12th, 1993:

“Due to constant shelling, no one dares to approach the wounded who are crying out for help,” stated a Mostar press centre. 


The New York Times, March 9th, 1994:

Muslim soldiers nearby still fear snipers, and recommend that pedestrians cross one at a time so that snipers will have only single targets.

Originally a bank, the building below became a sniper tower during the 1993-1994 siege.



The Wall Street Journal, March 9th, 1994:

Despite the motives of those in power, Vanja Bujina, a citizen of Mostar during the siege in 1994 explained, “I don’t want to live in a so-called ‘Muslim city of Mostar. We used to live together, and that’s what I want.”


The Wall Street Journal, March 9th, 1994:

When a cease-fire…went into effect 12 days ago, Mr. Handzic’s tourist agency was the first to reopen. Mr. Handzic sits in range of still-active snipers to bear witness to what was, and what he believes will be again.


Thank you for reading.


  1. Incredibly informative post, love your writing style thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Your pictures, words and quotes really “brought to life” what was going on with the human side of the Bosnian war (in Mostar). What an eye opener for me. Amazing job!!

  3. Pingback: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina | snowtoseas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *