Cliff Diving at Mostar, BosniaHerzeGovina

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Thronging the Bridge to see the Cliff Dives – Mari Nicholson

I must confess that when I visited the world famous Mostar Bridge in Bosnia-Herzegovina a few weeks ago, my attention was easily diverted from the historical reasons for my visit.  Surrounded on all sides by the travelling fans, plus hundreds of local fans of the Red Bull Cliff  Divers, I jostled with everyone else fo a place from which to view the adrenalin fuelled dives of these young men and women.

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Preparing to do a Back Somersault off the Platform – Mari Nicholson

I had been unaware of the event until I got there so had to do a quick check on who was in what position, something I found fairly easy as the Mostar locals are all big fans.  I was even informed that my own countryman, the young British diver Gary Hunt, was lying in fourth position at the time (he subsequently came in second in this trial).

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Checking that all is well

You can read about the Stari Most Bridge (colloquially known as the Mostar Bridge) in my earlier post put up this afternoon so I need not go into its historical importance here, nor mention the terrible war in which it was destroyed.

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Awaiting the “rescue” divers below.

The Iconic Stari Most bridge served as launch point for 22 male and female athletes during the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series’ 7th stop on 24 September 2016 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Five-time champion Gary Hunt had missed out on a win in the previous two stops – in the past six seasons the brilliant Brit has never gone more than two stops without a win.

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It may be a coach with the diver – Mari Nicholson.

I haven’t seen any of these Cliff Diving Championships before live, although I have watched some of them on media outlets but the stunning setting of Bosna-Herzegovina’s most renowned landmark, where diving has been a tradition dating back to the 17th century, has made me a total fan.  The city’s diving enthusiasts have warm-heartedly welcomed the 22 World Series athletes for many years now and introduced them to their preferred take-off point high above the Neretva River.

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There are Vantage Points Everywhere – Mari Nicholson

“This town lives for diving and lives for this bridge,” my waiter told me as we gave our order in Restaurant Teatro, a balconied eatng place that offered a fantastic view of the bridge, the crowds, and the amazing turquoise river below with the colourful rescue canoes and the wet-suited divers.  He seemed to know everyone in the competition, from much respected Columbian Orlando Duque right down to the 25-year-old wildcard Australian female diver Rhiannon Iffland, here to battle it out with Canada’s Lysanne Richard.

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The Diver Enters the Water and rescue is at hand should it be needed – Mari Nicholson

The first dives off the bridge date back more than 400 years, my waiter told me, but in the current competition, the men dive from a platform 28 metres high and the women from the bridge at 21 metres high.  Eternalized in the city’s flag and coat of arms, life in Mostar has been centred on the humpback bridge ever since its construction in the 16th century as the young men plunge into the Neretva River to prove their courage in a test of maturity.

Eternalized in the city’s flag and coat of arms, life in Mostar has been centred on the humpback bridge ever since its construction in the 16th century as the young men plunge into the Neretva River to prove their courage in a test of maturity.

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The colour of the water looks inviting – but from 85 feet??  – Mari Nicholson

Competition cliff diving dates back to 1770, when King Kahekili, the last king of Maui (Hawaiian islands), leapt from Kaunolu, a 63-foot (19-meter) cliff and entered the water below without causing a splash.  Later, he made his warriors jump from cliffs to prove their courage and loyalty.  It is probably the easiest sport for the enthusiast to enter as there is no equipment to buy and no special clothing to wear.  All you need is nerve, a fit body, and the ability to sail through the air from a dizzy height and plunge into waters below, avoiding cliffs and jutting rocks as you descend.

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Old Mostar and the bridge – Photo Pixabay

The teams tour the world as they compete in different countries each month in front of top judges from the sport.  More information and pictures can be seen here.   It really is thrilling.

See also:  Mostar, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bosnia Herzegovina.

MOSTAR, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Dalmatian Sights:

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Modern day Mostar – Mari Nicholson

Famous for the bridge that was destroyed in the 1990 conflict in the Balkans, the historic old town of Mostar in Herzegovina that spans the deep valley of the Neretva River, is somewhere that should be visited by anyone who travels to Dalmatia.   Most of the old town, as well as the bridge, was destroyed in that dreadful war, signs of which are still in evidence around the area.

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Mostar, Astride the River – Mari Nicholson

Dating back to the 15th century, Mostar was developed as an Ottoman frontier town and was further developed during the 19th and 20th centuries when the Ottomans were seemingly unstoppable as they pushed at the gates of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

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Old Bridge – Photo Pixabay

Long known for its old Turkish houses and the iconic bridge, Stari Most, after which the town is named (mostari meaning the bridge-keepers) many of the dwellings in the Old Town were restored or rebuilt in 2004 with the help of UNESCO.   The Old Bridge was originally designed by the architect Hajruddin, under the direction of his famous architect teacher Sinan, and its reconstruction was based on thorough and detailed analyses, use of authentic materials and techniques: the reconstructed portions have been left visible.

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Before the war, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, mosques, churches, and synagogues existed side-by-side indicating that the Roman Catholic Croats, the Eastern Orthodox Serbs, and the Sephardic Jews, had lived peaceably together with the Bosniak-Muslims for more than four centuries and the town is an outstanding example of a multicultural settlement with its pre-Ottoman, eastern Ottoman, Mediterranean and western European features. cafe-near-entrance-to-the-souk-mari-nicholson

It is hoped that the reconstructed old bridge and city of Mostar will serve as a symbol of the coexistence of the diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities in this region.

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Old Houses, Mostar – Photo Pixbay
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Mostar Bridge today (watching the Cliff Divers)
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A Plea from the Heart – Don’t Forget the Past – Photo Pixabay