Given the Bosnian War that happened in Bosnia & Herzegovina in the early 1990’s, Mostar is full of history. Some of it is uplifting because you can see how far they have come and where people are at today in terms of tolerance and acceptance, but there are also sad parts that remind you of what happened not too long ago. The Mostar Sniper Tower is one of the somber memories of the war that exists today. However, it’s truly in climbing the Sniper Tower where you truly feel its chilling impact.
The Neretva River divides Mostar into an east and west side — the Muslim side and the Croat side. This was essentially the dividing line in the war. The Mostar Sniper Tower sits just west of the river. It was originally A Yoguslav Bank that was taken over by Croat and Serb forces during the Siege of Mostar.
Due to its strategic location and height compared to surrounding buildings, it was used as a sniper tower during the war. Snipers aimed at Bosniaks across the river who were out in public walking, driving, running errands, or even just in their homes. It’s incredibly depressing and humbling to even imagine living where you are in danger of being shot simply for going to get food because of your religion and where you are from.
How to Get Into the Sniper Tower
The Sniper Tower in Mostar is technically not open to the public. However, plenty of travelers and urban explorers, venture up the Sniper Tower every year. It is not all that dangerous, but it is very eerie and chilling. This was a site of death for many years. People “worked” in this building and killed many innocent people as part of their “job.”
That being said, the bottom of the Sniper Tower is blocked off, and there are no official openings for you to enter. If you go around to the back, people have made a little step with rocks and bricks where you can hoist yourself over the wall and enter. Getting in the Sniper Tower is more difficult that exiting. You exit at the same place, but there are more bricks and a small step in the wall to help you out.
Climbing the Sniper Tower
Since the Sniper Tower in Mostar is not an official place for people to be visiting — as you could tell by the “entrance” — there are no safety rails or anything to protect you from hurting yourself. It is an abandoned building. Enter at your own risk.
Once you are over the wall and inside the Sniper Tower, you will want to be careful where you step as there is garbage, broken glass, and debris all over the place. This is why we recommend that you wear shoes when climbing the Sniper Tower in Mostar.
As you walk through the abandoned bank building, you will see tons of graffiti and street art, old office equipment, and, as mentioned, garbage. Make your way through the hallways to the stairway. Be careful going up the stairwell as there are no railings. You could easily slip and fall over 7 stories down. This is the primary danger of climbing the Sniper Tower, and it’s why it is still technically off limits to visitors.
Be aware of your surroundings when climbing the Sniper Tower. You obviously don’t want to step on glass or fall. However, it’s also an abandoned building, so there could be other people in there. Just be smart and aware of what’s around you. On top of that, there is an elevator shaft that you will want to watch out for. Falling down that will certainly ruin your visit to Mostar.
When you reach the top of the Mostar Sniper Tower, you will probably be conflicted with some of the same feelings we were. The first thought that popped into our heads was ‘Wow! What an incredible view!’, but that was quickly thwarted by the thought and realization that this is where snipers actually sat and this is what they actually saw when they were killing people.
It’s an incredibly eerie and strange feeling. You are surrounded by a beautiful city and the thrill of being in an abandoned building, yet you are directly conflicted with the atrocities of war and genocide. These complex feelings hit home even harder here because the Sniper Tower in Mostar is a place of solitude where they can truly sink in, especially because you are standing with a killer’s vantage point of the city.
While climbing the Sniper Tower in Mostar is a stark reminder of the tragedies that happened in Mostar, there are reminders throughout the city. It’s a remarkably beautiful city, but with a grim past that is still very much present. Mostar is definitely worth visiting as we can all learn from the past.