I was told about the so-called ‘sniper tower’ in Mostar within minutes of being picked up from the bus station. I didn’t think it sounded like the most chirpy of tourist attractions, but one I was nonetheless drawn to as a big piece of the war still standing in Mostar.
This building used to be a bank, which was evacuated and captured during the war and used as a sniper base. The windows are still smashed, with shards of glass scattered as far as you can see. Documents dated back to the early 90s are still strewn all over the floor with no hopes of being cleared. The elevator shafts remain hollow, as does what was once the revolving door, now just a semi-circle of metal in the middle of an open entrance. With no signs of desks, or any office equipment, it is hard to believe that this was ever the hub of activity one would expect from a large bank in a city centre. The building stands as empty and scarred as the bullet shells littered all over the floors.
I was nervous as I walked up to it. Somehow it felt threatening; this big and bold piece of history, untouched for public viewing, the shock-factor staring you beautifully in the face. As you walk through it, careful to watch where you place your feet for fear of stepping on something sharp, you rebuild the bank in your mind. Then look around in the emptiness and become overwhelmed with the poignant ending it all came to. Look out onto the streets below, and you can see exactly what those snipers were aiming at – the evidence lying as bullets holes in buildings.
Not the most conventional of museums, not a museum at all in fact. There has been no attempt by anyone in Mostar to try and turn it into a toursit hotspot, but each person I met in the hostel made sure they went there. It is free to see, as you just walk in, no one there to stop you. I wouldn’t encourage you to go at night, due to the fact that it can be a hangout for drug users (you’ll see a number of needles dotted about) and the glass all over the floor would be a bit of a hazard in the dark.
It was a priviledge to see, but an experience I didn’t cling onto for too long. It almost felt like we were intruding on a part of Mostar that must hurt a lot of people to see. I certainly didn’t feel like it should be an attraction for us foreigners to revel in. It is definitely a must-do for anyone in Mostar, but be aware that you are walking into the belly of the beast.