Mostar’s Ottoman Muslibegovic House & Museum

Mostar is well-known for the UNESCO World Heritage Site Stari Most and the old town. It’s a magnet for tourists from every corner of the globe. Although the classic tourism route in Mostar is certainly attractive, it often leaves out a handful of gems. In the backstreets of east Mostar are the likes of the Kajtaz Family House, an astoundingly well-preserved Ottoman home, and the Muslibegovic House and Museum.

7. Oct 2014. | 17:54 | Tim Clancy

The Muslibegovic even escaped my attention for the first two editions of the Bradt Travel Guide – a mishap I am not proud to admit. But as they say, it’s never too late. So please allow me to properly introduce the Muslibegovic House.

Walking up the small hill through the bullet-pocked Mostar neighborhood of Brankovac, one wouldn't expect to come across a glorious Ottoman estate. Although this part of Mostar took a heavy beating during the war, the Muslibegović House, a protected national monument, somehow avoided the devastation. Although the house did suffer some damage during the conflict, the most vital and valuable aspect of the house – its ancient contents – were spared. Heirlooms such as the intricately hand-carved interior, ancient documents, silverware, and even the bedding were all left intact.

Unlike most Ottoman estates in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the family decided to follow the Spanish model, opening the house as both a museum and a B&B. The attention paid to the restoration and customer service has been rewarded. In 2010 Expedia Travel named the Muslibegović House one of the top ten accommodation locations in the world. Not a small feat in an exceptionally competitive global tourism market.

This pleasant surprise was entirely unexpected to the owner and head of the household, Mr. Tadžudin Muslibegović. “I am still shocked. I know we have a beautiful home … and we have tried to make this a special and intimate experience for our guests, but to be ranked eighth in the world by a survey of over one million people is beyond me.”

The family has a clear vision of how they do business. The rooms and atmosphere alone would charm any guest from anywhere in the world. But they also make an extra effort to make one's stay as unique as the house itself. Breakfast is superb. The courtyard is so enticing, it’s easy to convince oneself to stay and sip rose juice all day and enjoy the silence and pleasant atmosphere. And it’s not at all uncommon for the family to join you for a pleasant chat over a bosanska kafa.

The house itself was built during the 17th century. Don’t be fooled by the Star of David adorning the entrance. Within the Ottoman Empire, the symbol was widely used even amongst Muslims. Guests are obliged, as is Muslim custom, to remove ones shoes before entering. The front foyer has a modest dining set, with two mannequins wearing traditional attire sitting around a custom sinija round table. Most of the traditional outfits worn by Christians and Muslims during Ottoman times were largely the same. Each ethnic group, though, had their own specific color code.

Walking up the creaky stairs each step whines with the tired oak boards. The central room was where the men would meet for business and talking. The selamluk was generally off-limits for the women except when they came in to serve food and drinks or clean up afterwards. The ceilings were decorated with ornate woodcarvings and each room had its own specific ceiling design. The room we stood in was decorated with writings and designs from famous Ottoman calligraphers.

Next door, in a traditional sleeping room, a sleeping mat, which would be rolled up and stored during the day, was covered with a silk and silver cover which were originally imported from the Near East and later produced in the main Ottoman hub towns like Sarajevo and Mostar. The haremluk upstairs is, for me, the best room in the house. If the women were left out of the selamluk, at least they got the best room for natural light and for the once spectacular views. This 18th century era room is cozy and colorful with a large bay window. In the old days, this position would provide a panoramic view of the entire city. Even the Stari Most was visible from here. Today, the skyline is obstructed by a neighboring medical clinic and modern home.

The rooms are a perfect blend of modern amenities, all carefully decorated in Oriental style. They have authentic, handmade furnishings and beddings. Although each of the rooms has their own, specific charm I was wooed by the Pasha Suite. It is a perfect mélange of antique and modernity. Of the 12 rooms available at the Muslibegovic House, the pasha suite is mine. It just has that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that says this is the one. Their website will help you with the rest: www.muslibegovichouse.com.

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