Garden—note the high wall
One of the lovely carpets in the house
We took a guided walking tour of Old Town Mostar with Alma. She explained many things about the city and its history, took us to the New Muslim Cemetery, the Old Bridge, the Tanners Mosque, and a Turkish house.
Mostar has three traditional Turkish-style houses open to the public, but this one—the Muslibegovic House—is the one she likes to recommend. And we had fun learning about this style of living.
It’s a Bosnian National Monument, and is now a luxury hotel and a museum. The museum section was opened to the public in April 2006. The pamphlet tells us that the complex is one of the most representative monuments of the Ottoman residential architecture in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The house was built in the 17th century, but the main residential quarter was reconstructed in 1871.
Bower in enclosed garden
It consisted of two main areas; a quarter for the family (haremluk) and a quarter for business (selamluk).
The Musilbegovics represented a noble lineage in many parts of Herzegovina, where its members were governors for many centuries. They established themselves in Mostar at the end of the 17th century after the fall of Herzegovina to the Venetians.
We entered through a gate into the family garden, surrounded by a high wall. This was for protection from the sun, from thieves, and from prying eyes, so that women could take off the veil that they had to wear in public. The garden also has a pretty bower, with trellised roof of green leafy plants, and white curtains—a nice place for the family to sit outdoors.
After buying entrance tickets (4 KM/adult, less than US$2), we removed our shoes to enter the house.
It is furnished with items and documents that provide an insight into the life of a wealthy bey family from the Ottoman period. Downstairs is a reception room, with gorgeous carpets and woodwork (and two mannequins representing the owner of the house and his wife).
Upstairs is a living room (divanhan), with more lovely woodwork (arches and open slats that serve as a room divider), a decorated ceiling, beautiful carpets on the floor, and cushioned benches along the wall and at the windows. Alma shows us examples of a traditional costume for a man and a woman.
Nath and Sonya in the living room
Alma demonstrates a female ethnic dress
And the male costume
Bedroom—note stove and the baby crib
We also saw a typical bedroom of the time, with a mattress on the floor, a stove for heating, and more benches along the windows. What was really interesting here was one whole wall of built-in cupboards with wooden doors. Amazingly, one of the wooden doors opens into the bathroom.
In the bedroom, Alma shows a wall of cupboards….
…one of which opens into the bathroom
Declaration of faith
In another room we see examples of the writing of Ottoman calligraphers, and manuscripts and letters from the Ottoman period. Of note: First, The declaration of faith, one of the pillars of Islam, done in outstanding calligraphy; Second, the Temesuk (permission) from 1569 for the citizens of village Pribinovici, Kadiluk of Mostar, for pasture of cattle around Mostarsko Blato. Name of places and borders are detailed and named. The original is in Turkish language; Third, a tapija for property from 1890. A tapija is the rights to till land, often given to deserving military commaders (information taken from the English translation on the information boards).
It is open mid-April to mid-October, 10am-6pm. Closed in the off-season.
The hotel consists of 10 luxury bedrooms and 2 suites. All are a blend of past and resent, fully furnished in Ottoman style with a decorated ceiling, but also offering modern amenities, such as air conditioning, internet connection, and cable TV. It’s on a quiet residential lane a couple of blocks uphill from the Old Town and the main pedestrian street. The hotel is closed Nov-Feb.
Address: Osmana Dikica br 41, Mostar.