MOSTAR -- The unofficial capital of Herzegovina, southern region of Bosnia-Herzegovina, centered around its famous stone archy "Stari Most" bridge binding two banks of the emerald Neretva river.

This is a city of poetry, a city of stone, sleepy, narrow, winding streets, the city of industry, academe, and Velez, a local soccer darling team. This is a city where a traveller from the North feels first dashes of Mediteranean air imbued with scents of citrus and sea. This is a city where a traveller from the South reaches first glimpses of the continent beyond. Here is where southern rains may change into northern snows at any moment in late fall. In true sense of the word, this is the city where West meets East meets North meets South. In this city on a faithful day of June 20, 1907, my father was born.

Mostar first appeared in the 15-th century when a small settlement began to form around wooden bridge suspended on chains, on the left bank of the River Neretva. Its name is probably rooted in the word "Mostar" (a bridge guard). In 1566 a new stone bridge was opened to travellers and merchants. The Old Bridge, as it is popularly called, served many purposes throughout its 400-year life. Most memorably, it served as a point from which the city youth dove into the green waters below and thus showed off their courage and perhaps made few coins from on-lookers and picture-takers. One of its last roles was to aid Muslim defenders of the "left bank" cross the river and take supplies from and to their supporters and people whom they defended. Its very last role was to enrage and sadden immeasureably all its many admirers upon its death by fire in November 1993. It withstood many centuries, but it could not survive concentrated effort to demolish it.

This city suffered like few others during the barbaric war against common people in years 1991 through 1995. This city is trying hard to recover and find its innevitably new identity. Wish it and its inhabitants lots of good faith and wisdom in creating their common future.

Dubravko Kakarigi, Tallahassee, Florida, October 1995.

CREDITS: Photographs 1 and 3 counting from the top were borrowed from "Herzegovina", a brochure published by Privredni Vjesnik, Zagreb, Croatia in 1985. Photographs 2 and 4 were borrowed from "Mostar" a street map published by HEMOS, Mostar.