Growing up in Mississippi, the poorest state in the USA, when the country’s economy wasn’t doing so well left me with the opportunity to explore tons of abandoned places as a child.
I’m not so sure that was a good thing but it was fun. Nonetheless it’s left me with a lust for exploring abandoned places as an adult. It makes me feel like a kid again. For obvious reasons, there’s no real tally on what country has the coolest and most abandoned things to explore but I’d be willing to bet money that the countries which make up former Yugoslavia would all make it on there. Bosnia and Herzegovina would surely land somewhere near the top.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was both geographically and politically at the center of the Yugoslav Wars. I mean, you could even say WWI technically started here in Sarajevo since that’s where the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand took place on June 28, 1914. For better or worse, this turbulent history has left a lot of interesting abandoned things to explore. In Mostar alone you’ll find an abandoned underground Yugoslav Airbase, the complex architectural feat that is Partisan’s cemetery, and a building that was once a modern Croat bank but used as a sniper tower during the Mostar Siege.
The conflicts here would devastate cities and towns leaving vivid reminders that can still be seen today. Walking past deserted houses with bullet holes left in them in the center of a fairly modern city is a surreal experience. It’s crazy to think that in just 1984 Bosnia Herzegovina was the center of the world when they held the Winter Olympics. Sarajevo found itself competing against all odds with Sapporo, Japan, and with the joint application of two Swedish cities, Falun and Göteborg. This all happened only a few years after.
I feel insanely grateful in being able to visit this region today while having so many good friends from all of these countries. The region’s beauty is astounding and the friendly people really make it somewhere special worth visiting. I think what British journalist Pet Bedford stated before the Winter Olympics vote still holds as true today as it surely did then: “If you choose Sapporo, the Japanese will arrange a plane to visit Tokyo, and if you opt for Falun and Göteborg, Swedes will show you the fjords and icebergs. But if your choice falls on Yugoslavia and Sarajevo, you will find friendly people, a great heart, and beautiful mountains”.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten all of that out of the way, let me tell you step by step how to get to the abandoned Mostar (technically village of Gnojnice ) aircraft hangar. Not much is known about it aside from that it used to be a hidden Yugoslavian Army air base under Josip Tito. Fighter jets were ready to deploy at all times from the bowels of this mountain unbeknownst to the local villagers.
*Edit* A local actually informed me that the majority of the people knew about this base. The biggest surprise for locals was actually finding The Ark which was Tito’s private nuclear basement built underneath the city of Konjitz. The Ark was built during the 60’s under the code-name ”Istanbul” project. It is the most preserved nuclear shelter in the Balkans. No one knew about this until 1997.
I’ll preface by saying it’s about an hour and 15 minute walk out of Mostar old town but fortunately you’ll get to pass by the Oldbridz Craft Brewery halfway there. There are still un-exploded mines in Bosnia & Herzegovina so try not to venture off the path. Also, as it goes with visiting abandoned places, bring a flash light and be safe (it’s pitch black and creepy in there.) Follow google maps to the first destination – M6.1 – and I’ll guide you from there. This is where it gets tricky. If you thought you were just going to walk straight there on a perfectly paved road up to the hangar think again: Directions
Step 2. Walk along the right side of the median and turn right at the break in the fence to enter the field. There’s a path you can take that’s safer than walking on the highway to get across.
Step 3. The path you start walking on should look like this. Walk down it for about 5 minutes.
Step 4. The path you’re walking down should look something like this.
Step 5. You’ll come to some train tracks and this bridge/the highway you didn’t want to walk across because it didn’t have a median.
Step 6. Walk under the highway/bridge to your left then cross over the train tracks and walk up the adjacent side of the hill.
Step 7. Once you cross over the train tracks you’ll walk up this little path to exit on the other side of the bridge/highway.
Step 8. You should walk up the hill to find yourself on a dirt path like this one.
Step 9. Now you’re just going to walk on the median of this highway for another 20 minutes or so.
Step 10. Okay, so, step 10 is kind of a combination of steps but you’re pretty much there. Just follow the steps – in order – on the photos to find yourself inside an abandoned Yugoslav airport hangar.
That’s it. Hopefully you followed these directions and found yourself inside exploring a very interesting, yet creepy for me personally, abandoned air base hangar. Finding these spots is usually a pain so for every one I visit and figure out I plan to post a guide on how to get there. I already have a few more in the works that I’ll post in the coming weeks!